Elvis' best movies, according to AI — and roles he could have played – Commercial Appeal

Elvis was a trend-setter. Newspapers are trend-chasers. 
So it is perhaps to be expected that this newspaper would want to connect Elvis with a “trend” that apparently is here to stay, namely, AI, i.e., artificial intelligence, as represented by ChatGPT, the publicly accessible “AI-powered chatbot” that is capable of having what might be called a conversation (“generating human-like text based on context,” in the company’s own words) with any human entity that cares to engage it.
For this story, I was asked by the powers that be at The Commercial Appeal to chat with the chatbot about “best Elvis movies.” The chatbot’s answers were rather rote — unlike “best Elvis songs,” the topic “best Elvis movies” does not inspire much disagreement — so I quickly moved on to other Elvis movie topics, for my own amusement and, I hope, yours.
So, here are some excerpts from our “conversation,” very much edited for space. (Believe me, our chat went on and on and on. The chatbot actually answered every question with multiple paragraphs, and each answer repeated, with slight variations, assertions about Elvis’ “iconic” status.)
JB (pulling a JR, Joan Rivers): Can we talk?
ChatGPT: Of course, we can talk! I’m here to help with any questions or topics you’d like to discuss. What’s on your mind?
JB: I’m curious: Are you an Elvis fan?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal feelings or preferences, so I don’t have the capacity to be a fan of anything, including Elvis. However, I can certainly provide information about Elvis Presley and his music if you’re interested!
JB: What do you know about the movies in which Elvis Presley appeared as an actor?
ChatGPT: Elvis’s movies were often musicals or comedies that showcased his singing and dancing abilities. While some received mixed critical reviews, they were generally successful at the box office and contributed to his status as a pop culture icon.
JB: What are the best Elvis movies? 
ChatGPT: The perception of “the best” Elvis movies can vary depending on individual preferences and tastes. Some Elvis fans might enjoy his early films for their classic rock ‘n’ roll and musical numbers, while others might prefer his later, more mature roles. Nevertheless, here are some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed Elvis movies… 
The chatbot’s choices did represent pretty much a consensus of the “best” Elvis movies. The eight titles it listed, apparently in order of accepted “bestness,” were: “Jailhouse Rock” (1957); “King Creole” (1958); “Viva Las Vegas” (1964); “Blue Hawaii” (1961); “Love Me Tender” (1956); “G.I. Blues” (1960); “Kid Galahad” (1962); and the documentary, “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” (1970). 
Each film offers something different, whether it’s the music, the performances, or the overall entertainment value. If you’re an Elvis fan, it might be fun to explore these movies and see which ones resonate with you the most!
After a few followup questions that elicited dull answers, I decided I needed to stop talking about the movies per se, and focus instead on movie-related topics. The chatbot’s polite, diplomatic and seemingly deadpan responses to my increasingly absurd inquiries did (to borrow the title of an Elvis movie) tickle me.
JB: What is the dumbest Elvis movie song?
ChatGPT: Opinions on what constitutes the “dumbest” Elvis movie song can vary widely, as it is a matter of personal taste and perspective. One song that is occasionally mentioned in this context is “Do the Clam” from the movie “Girl Happy” (1965). Some critics have referred to it as one of the sillier and less sophisticated songs in Elvis’s movie repertoire.
JB: Why don’t you like “Do the Clam”?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal feelings, likes, or dislikes. I don’t have the capacity to form opinions or emotions.
JB: Seems like you’re hatin’ on “Do the Clam.”
ChatGPT: I apologize if my responses gave the impression that I was “hatin’ on” or expressing negative feelings towards “Do the Clam” or any other song.
JB: Can you name some specific movies that might have been a good fit for Elvis in the lead role, instead of whatever actor actually was cast?
ChatGPT: Certainly! While it’s impossible to know exactly which specific roles were considered for Elvis Presley, there were several movies produced in the 1960s and beyond that might have been a good fit for him in lead roles. 
The chatbot then listed these intriguing possibilities: Elvis instead of Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”; Elvis instead of Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”; Elvis instead of Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde”; Elvis instead of Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy” (in fact, Elvis reportedly was considered for that role); Elvis as “one of the iconic bikers” in “Easy Rider”; Elvis instead of Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; and Elvis instead of Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” (the only suggestion that I don’t think would have worked).
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JB: Was Elvis believable as a frogman?
ChatGPT: In the movie “Easy Come, Easy Go,” released in 1967, Elvis Presley plays the character of Lieutenant Ted Jackson, a Navy frogman. A frogman, also known as a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land), is a highly trained special operations soldier with expertise in maritime operations, such as diving and underwater demolitions. Some fans and critics may have found it challenging to envision Elvis in the role of a serious and highly skilled Navy frogman. However, it’s important to note that the film is not intended to be a documentary-style representation of Navy frogmen or their missions.
JB: Would Elvis have been good in the title role of “Dirty Harry”?
ChatGPT: While Elvis had the versatility to try various roles, it’s challenging to envision him in a character as iconic and gritty as Harry Callahan. Elvis Presley was known for his charisma, musical talent, and on-screen charm, but his acting career primarily focused on musical comedies and lighter fare.
JB: You say Elvis focused on musical comedies. Would he have made a good replacement for Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl”?
ChatGPT: While Elvis excelled in musical roles and had a charismatic stage presence, his image and style were quite different from what was needed to portray Fanny Brice. In summary, while Elvis Presley’s musical talents were exceptional, he and Barbra Streisand had different acting styles and strengths, making it unlikely that he would have been considered as a replacement for her in “Funny Girl.” 
JB: How about Elvis as Gilligan?
ChatGPT: Gilligan is a bumbling, lovable first mate of the S.S. Minnow, and Bob Denver’s portrayal of the character became an iconic part of the show’s charm and humor. Elvis Presley, with his comedic timing and charisma, might have brought a different but equally entertaining dynamic to the role if he had been cast as Gilligan.
JB: Would Elvis have excelled in the role of “The Little Mermaid”?
ChatGPT: Elvis Presley as “The Little Mermaid” is an imaginative concept that could have been intriguing to explore, but it’s important to note that “The Little Mermaid” is a beloved animated musical film released by Disney in 1989. It’s fascinating to consider how Elvis might have approached a voice acting role in an animated film, but the idea of him playing Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” remains a playful “what-if” scenario.
JB: I don’t mean voice acting, I mean a live-action version. 
ChatGPT: I apologize for the misunderstanding. In a live-action version of “The Little Mermaid,” Elvis could have potentially excelled in various roles… (The chatbot went on to discuss, in depth, the notion of Elvis portraying such male characters as King Triton, Prince Eric and Sebastian the crab.)
JB: Why couldn’t he play the title mermaid?
ChatGPT: My sincere apologies for the oversight in my previous responses. You are absolutely right; there’s no reason why Elvis Presley couldn’t have portrayed the title character, the mermaid Ariel, in a live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” I appreciate your patience, and I apologize for any confusion caused.
In a live-action version of “The Little Mermaid,” casting choices could certainly be more flexible, allowing for actors to portray characters regardless of traditional gender or physical attributes. The concept of Elvis Presley playing Ariel, the young mermaid princess, would indeed be an imaginative and intriguing idea. With Hollywood embracing more diverse and unconventional casting choices in recent times, such a portrayal might have been an exciting possibility.
JB: Could Elvis have played Lassie?
ChatGPT: As much as we may enjoy imagining creative and playful scenarios involving iconic figures, like Elvis Presley, portraying beloved characters such as Lassie, it is important to remember that Lassie is a fictional character known for being a collie dog.
JB: Could Elvis have played the shark in “Jaws”?
ChatGPT: While he had a versatile career, the idea of him portraying a shark in a thriller film like “Jaws” would have been a significant departure from his typical roles.
By this time I felt the chatbot was an indulgent aunt, patiently waiting for me to tire of my nonsense. So I steered us back to more conventional territory.
JB: If you could watch only one Elvis movie for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal preferences or the ability to watch movies. However, if I were to recommend one Elvis Presley movie for you to consider, it would be “Jailhouse Rock” (1957).
JB: Do you approve of Elvis’ tactics when he grabs his co-star and kisses her and explains “It’s just the beast in me” in “Jailhouse Rock”?
ChatGPT:  As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions or emotions. However, I can provide some context and analysis on the scene you mentioned in “Jailhouse Rock.” While “Jailhouse Rock” is a classic film and a product of its time, the portrayal of such behavior would not be seen as acceptable in today’s context. In modern times, consent and respect for personal boundaries are recognized as crucial aspects of any healthy relationship, whether on-screen or in real life.
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JB: Did Elvis deserve an Oscar?
ChatGPT: While Elvis had a significant impact on pop culture and entertainment, his acting roles were not usually of the caliber that garnered Oscar recognition. That said, it’s important to acknowledge that awards and recognition are subjective, and Elvis’s contributions to the entertainment industry and his influence on popular culture are undeniable.
JB: Nice talking to you about Elvis! I think I will end this chat now.
ChatGPT: It was a pleasure talking to you about Elvis Presley!