Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968

By: David Troedson
Source: Elvis Australia
September 11, 2015 - 2:02:00 AM
Elvis' Movies, Elvis Articles, By David Troedson

Elvis Presley's twenty-eighth movie was the 1968 MGM film 'Live A Little, Love A Little' directed by Norman Taurog, who had directed several previous Presley films.

This was to be Taurog's final film. Principal photography began on 3/13/68. Unlike many previous films which involved 'location scenes' shot against a backdrop, Presley was able to do more scenes on location than usual. Locations included the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, Marineland, the Hollywood Citizen News building, the Los Angeles Music Center and the streets of the Hollywood Hills.

In 'Live A Little, Love A Little', Elvis Presley plays Greg Nolan, a newspaper photographer who lives a carefree life - that is, until he encounters an eccentric, lovelorn woman named Bernice (Michele Carey) on the beach. 

Greg Nolan (Elvis) must also must deal with Bernice and her eccentric ways. Bernice assumes different names and personalities whenever the mood hits her. (She introduces herself to Greg as 'Alice' but she's known to the delivery boy as 'Susie' and to the milkman as 'Betty.')

After having her Great Dane dog, Albert (which was reportedly Presley's real-life dog Brutus, although Priscilla Presley has stated that it was a trained dog used for the film), chase Greg into the water when he insults her after a kiss, Bernice invites him to stay at her beachfront home. She later manages to make him lose his job and apartment after drugging him, which leaves him in a deep sleep for days.

Bernice manages to get him a new apartment, but it is so expensive that he has to take on two full-time jobs to make the payments: one for a Playboy-like magazine owned by Mike Lansdown (Don Porter), the other for a very conservative advertising firm co-owned (with other partners) by Mr. Penlow (Rudy Vallee). The two jobs are in the same building, forcing Greg to run from one to the other (up and down the stairwell) without being detected.

As Greg hustles back and forth between the two photography jobs he still finds time to romance beautiful Celeste Yarnall and belt out two songs; Almost in Love and Wonderful World.

Elvis Presley Video Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968 Official Trailer (02:15)

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The Music

The second of Elvis Presley's five final movies during the 1960s made with just a handful of musical numbers, the recording session of the four songs written for the film took place at Western Recorders in Hollywood, California on March 7, 1968. The producer in nominal charge of the session, Billy Strange, had worked with both Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and attuned to current trends in popular music brought in a group of musicians outside of Elvis' usual stable and written arrangements that went afield from Elvis' usual sound. Strange's method of using written charts was foreign to Elvis' more casual style of recording. 'Almost in Love' was given a late-night cocktail-jazz quality, 'Edge of Reality' was a piece of pseudo-acid rock, and 'A Little Less Conversation' written by Strange and his new discovery who would write several more songs for Elvis Presley, Mac Davis, bordered on funk.

The film introduced the song 'A Little Less Conversation' an alternative take of which would form the basis of a remix that returned Presley to international music sales charts in 2002. 'A Little Less Conversation' was released as a single with 'Almost in Love' on the b-side on September 3, 1968, RCA catalog 47-9610. It peaked at #69, while its b-side scraped into the Billboard Hot 100 at #95 independently. Over three decades later, a remix of 'A Little Less Conversation' became a global #1 hit record, although the version sourced for the remix was actually a later re-recording Elvis did for the soundtrack of his 1968 NBC 'Comeback Special', and not the movie version. 'Edge of Reality' appeared on November 5, 1968, as the b-side to RCA single 47-9670 'If I Can Dream'.


Celeste Yarnall, who played Ellen, recalled the making of the film and her impressions of Elvis Presley:

I adored Elvis. When I met him for the first time he immediately put me at ease. We had to film our kissing first and neither of us heard the director say, 'Cut!' For me, it was love at first kiss! We became very good friends. He was warm and kind and full of love. He had this tremendous desire to please people. We watched the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. together over lunch in his trailer. He cried. He really cared deeply. He was far more handsome in person with deep blue eyes and a Roman profile. He held jam sessions on the set and would play cars with George Barris or play football with the 'boys' who traveled with him everywhere. He was truly 'The King'.

World events

While Elvis was making this movie, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Elvis took the news very hard. He was known to commit famous speeches to memory and would often quote from or recite them thereafter. Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech was one of Elvis' favorites to recite. Just two months later in June, while working on his 1968 TV special, Elvis expressed his deep feelings about the loss of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King to producer Steve Binder. Binder who was so moved by Elvis' comments said, 'I wanted to let the world know that here was a guy who was not prejudiced, who was raised in the heart of prejudice, but who was really above all that'. It was then that Binder resolved to have a song written expressly for Elvis to close his show with. 'If I Can Dream' was born of this conversation. 'If I can dream--of a better land, Where all my brothers work hand in hand, Tell me why, oh why, can't my dream come true, Oh why?'.

Live A Little Love A Little - 1968
Live A Little Love A Little - 1968
Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips by Dan Greenburg

'Live A Little Love A Little' was adapted froma novel 'Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips' by Dan Greenburg.

Other titles also considered including 'Bumblebee Oh Bumblebee' and 'Born Rich'.

Dan Greenburg was born and educated in Illinois. He received his Masters Degree at UCLA and became an award-winning ad copywriter. Later he was managing editor of 'Eros' magazine. He became a best-selling writer with his 1964 book 'How To Be A Jewish Mother'. Greenburg went on to write other productions including 'Oh! Calcutta!'.

Writer, director and producer Michael A. Hoey was born in London and came to the U.S. as a child. Son of character actor Dennis Hoey, he grew up around the Hollywood movie studios. He worked with director Norman Taurog on several Elvis movies: 'Tickle Me', 'Spinout', 'Stay Away Joe' and 'Live a Little, Love A Little'. He received two Emmy Award nominations for his work on the TV series 'Fame'. Among his credits is having produced several Emmy Award shows.

Live A Little Love A Little - MGM 1968 - Belgian Poster
Live A Little Love A Little - MGM 1968 - Belgian Poster.

Michele Carey

Elvis' somewhat kooky love interest Bernice/ Betty/Suzie/Alice was played by actress Michele Carey who had been a top model for the Powers Agency. Her film credits include 'El Dorado' and 'Dirty Dingus Magee' among others. She was also the voice of 'Effie' the computer on the Robert Conrad TV series 'A Man Called Sloane'.

Michele Carey Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968.

Elvis Presley and Michele Carey. Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968.
Elvis Presley and Michele Carey. Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968.

Rudy Vallee

Rudy Vallee was a popular singer and band leader in the 1920s and 30s known for his trademark of singing through a megaphone. He became an actor in a career that spanned over sixty years.

Dick Sargent

Dick Sargent played Harry Baby. He was born Richard Cox, the son of actress Ruth McNaughton and Hollywood business manager Elmer Cox. He had roles in a number of movies and TV series, the most memorable playing Darrin Stephens on the TV series 'Bewitched'. Although he replaced an ailing Dick York in the part, it was Sargent who was first offered the role when the series began. Being already under contract for something else he was unable to take the part at that time. He had a bit part in Elvis' first movie 'Love Me Tender' (1956).

Georgia-born Sterling Holloway had the role of the Milkman in 'Live A Little, Love A Little'. Ironically he began his career in silent films, however, he went on to be the voice of many animated movie characters. Perhaps his most famous voice was that of the beloved character Winnie the Pooh. Eddie Hodges played the delivery boy Woodrow. Hodges stage credits include in 'The Music Man' & 'Critic's Choice'. He has appeared in movies and television and he had several hit records in the 1960s. Outside of a guest appearance on 'Law & Order' in 1996, the Mississippi native gave up performing in 1969 to become a rehabilitation counselor in his home state.

Susan Henning

Among the many models who appear in this film you might spot Susan Henning as dressed as a mermaid in one of Greg (Elvis) Nolan's photo sessions. Susan dated Elvis for a brief time and appeared in his 1968 TV special - she's the blonde in the pink dress to whom he sings 'Let Yourself Go'.

Celeste Yarnall

Actress Celeste Yarnall also had a role in the film as a model whom Greg dates. A native Californian, Ms. Yarnall has a successful career in movies and television, having acted with many stars such as Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Jerry Lewis, Charles Bronson, Melanie Griffith and of course Elvis Presley. A lady of many talents she has also owned a commercial real estate business, managed screenwriters, bred and shown champion cats, and having earned a Ph.D. in nutrition, has written several books on animal nutrition. Today she still works in commercials and lectures on nutrition. She has appeared as a very special guest at several Elvis Week Events in Memphis in the past few years. It was Celeste Yarnall to whom Elvis sang the Mac Davis/Billy Strange song 'A Little Less Conversation' in this film. He recorded another version in June of 1968 that was to be used in his 1968 TV special. It was not used in the special, however, in 2002 RCA/BMG and EPE granted a license to Nike to use it in their televised World Cup Soccer related promotions in Europe and elsewhere. For the commercial Dutch producer/dee-jay JXL was engaged to produce a remix, the first Elvis remix ever authorized by the record company and EPE. The Nike promos started airing and the remix caught fire. A single release had not been planned, but public demand prompted RCA/BMG to rush-release a single in June 2002. It topped singles airplay and sales charts in the U.K. and other territories and topped Billboard's singles sales chart in the U.S. It has since become the theme song for the TV series 'Las Vegas'.

Elvis Presley and Celeste Yarnall : Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968, publicity photo.
Elvis Presley and Celeste Yarnall : Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968, publicity photo.

Vernon Presley

During this film Elvis' father Vernon drove Elvis' Lincoln out to California for him.

While visiting with Elvis, Vernon was given a small nonspeaking part in the movie. He can be spotted as part of the scene in which Elvis' character Greg is shooting a photograph of a man sitting in an ornate chair at a table. That man was Vernon Presley. There has been a long-held myth that Elvis and Priscilla's dog Brutus was used in this movie as Albert the Great Dane. Not believing this to be true, we checked with Priscilla herself. She said it was not their dog but a professionally trained 'working dog that was hired for the film'.

Elvis Presley on the set of Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968.
Elvis Presley on the set of Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968.


Elvis Presley Lyrics Wonderfull World
Elvis Presley Lyrics Edge Of Reality
Elvis Presley Lyrics A Little Less Conversation
Elvis Presley Lyrics Almost In Love

Recorded at: Western Recorders Inc., 6000, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. March 1968.

Musicians: Elvis Presley (vocals), Joseph Gibbons, Neil Levang, Al Casey, Charles Britz (guitars),Larry Knetchal, Charles Berghofer (bass), Hal Blaine, Gary Coleman (drums), Don Randi (piano)

Live A Little Love A Little : MGM 1968

Directed by: Norman Taurog
Writing Credits: Dan Greenburg, Michael A. Hoey (based on the novel Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips by Dan Greenburg)
Producer: Douglas Laurence
Panavision and Metrocolor.

Cast Overview : Elvis Presley .... Greg Nolan, Michele Carey .... Bernice, Don Porter .... Mike Lansdown, Rudy Vallee .... Louis Penlow, Dick Sargent .... Harry Baby, Sterling Holloway.... Milkman, Celeste Yarnall .... Ellen, Eddie Hodges .... Delivery Boy, Joan Shawlee .... Robbie's Mother, Mary Grover .... Miss Selfridge, Emily Banks .... RKC & P Receptionist, Michael Keller .... Art Director, Merri Ashley .... 1st Secretary, Phyllis Davis .... 2nd Secretary, Ursula Menzel .... Perfume Model.

Interviews & Articles

Articles about Elvis Presley Interview with Celeste Yarnall


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