Top positive review
Fun, strange, historic little film
Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2019
This was Elvis Presley's final non-documentary film. That alone makes it worth owning for any 20th century popular culture enthusiast.
As for the content, it's a trip. Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara McNair and one more actress play nuns out of their habits and plunged into the inner city. They sign on as nurses for a young, idealistic doctor who looks and sounds a heckuva lot like Elvis Presley, who turns in a very good but uninspired acting performance. The director's name in this picture featuring religion is Billy Graham. No foolin'!
It has the feel of a TV Movie of the Week, and that's generally how it plays today. Very easygoing social consciousness drama with a bit of music and the strange, unintentionally comic situation of Elvis falling for a nun, and she for him. Elvis looked stunningly fine in 1969 and one realizes that Sister Mary has a difficult choice to make.
The only drawback is the still disturbing "rage reduction" sequence with an unknown child actress named Lorena Kirk, in her only acting role, before or since. The scene prompted Moore to call her husband to the set to see if this was even legal. At the time, an M.D. was pushing his pet treatment for autism, which has been totally discredited and not permitted in many states in the decades to come after this film was made. Elvis was coached by the M.D. and encouraged by Billy Graham to do the scene as instructed. It's still rather chilling.
Beyond that, it's an earnest and amiable film about urban life in America in the latter half of the 20th century in the turbulent late1960s. A word of caution, though: there is R-rated language thrown around and a genuinely frightening rape scene.
The songs are a cut above most previous 1960s Elvis Presley movie music. In one scene he jams with The Blossoms vocal group featuring the legendary Darlene Love.
It's in DVD standard definition, but seems to upscale quite well on a Blu-ray player.