As soon as shooting began on The Reno Brothers the now familiar media circus went berserk. When Elvis had arrived at the airport thousands of fans had gathered, many of them holding up banners that proclaimed, “Elvis for President” but that was only the tip of the iceberg and day after day fans and journalist lay siege to the film studios. Security was set at an all time high – Elvis was in town and no one in Hollywood, no stranger to big stars, had ever seen anything quite like it.
The first recording session for the soundtrack took place on the second day of filming. That first day Elvis cut the ballad that was to be a running theme throughout the movie. The song was a rewrite of the Civil War ballad, “Aura Lee” and everyone was amazed at the way Elvis nailed it – at that point he was known for belting out rock and roll songs and the tenderness with which he sang this beautiful little number was refreshing. The song, Love me Tender, would become the name of the movie after the original Reno Brothers tag was dropped.
When the film was released the critics were not impressed – “Elvis is an obscene child.” Cried out the Hollywood Reporter while Time famously compared him to a goldfish and a sausage. The New York times were also under whelmed by the film but impressed with the vigor of the young singer, saying that he went at his role as if it were Gone with the Wind. In fairness the film is no worse than a lot of B-western made around the time and a lot better than most. Presley, while often awkward on screen, proved his ability in several key scenes.