Docu is based on David Adler’s “The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley,” one of at least two books on the subject — the other being Brenda Arlene Butler’s “Are You Hungry Tonight?”
Overall tone is established early, with several Elvis impersonators seated at a long table chowing down; film concludes with testimony of several people who claim to have encountered Presley after his “death.”
Film runs more or less chronologically, positing that as a child in Tupelo, Miss., Presley dined to a notable degree on critters — rabbits, squirrels, opossums and the like. Marsh checks with cooks at Humes High School in Memphis, who venture that Presley (like everybody else attending high school across the country) ate a lot of Sloppy Joes; in the Army in Germany, we’re told, he consumed creamed chipped beef on toast, as did every other G.I.
Pretty banal, though Marsh tries to make such delicacies as pig’s feet, cheeseburgers and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches — Marsh fixates on these — sound exotic or declasse; this from a man whose nation feasts on jellied eel, steak and kidney pie and Wimpy burgers. Presley’s problem wasn’t what he ate (most of these dishes sound pretty tasty) but the amount, and the lack of nutritious food to balance the fun stuff. George Christy, representing Hollywood, suggests that what Presley really needed was “somebody who’d say, ‘Let’s have a lovely filet of Dover sole.’ ” Dr. George Nichopoulos — the famed “Doctor Nick”– notes that Presley was experimenting with a diet of papaya juice toward the end, but doesn’t get into Presley’s reliance on medication prescribed by you-know-who.
Several friends, acquaintances and staff members are interviewed, some reeking of sour grapes (a Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter is still peeved, 40 years later, that Presley wanted to finish his meal before submitting to an interview). Others, including Presley’s longtime cook Mary Jenkins, and nurse Marian Cocke, clearly doted on the man, and still do.
Program features several recipes, plus a surprising definition of “chitlins” as “chicken feet.” Maybe in England. Here, they’re deep-fried pig intestines. Mmmm.