Tuesday Weld, Elvis Presley’s sometimes girl, was also his costar in the wonderful Wild in the Country (1961), where they play two individuals who, at first, circle warily around each other, like cats who either want to fuck or fight, or maybe both (why choose?). His first words to her in the film are a soft gentlemanly, “Excuse me”, but he says it to her because she has purposefully and kind of rudely stood in the doorway, blocking his passage. She does so to make him deal with her. It takes willpower for him to slip past her, and his body language as he moves by her, trying not to touch her is one of his most erotic moments as an actor (yes, even more so than the “That ain’t tactics, baby, it’s just the beast in me” moment in Jailhouse Rock. It’s more so because it’s subtle, and the moment requires self-control and repression, which is inherently hot when you’re talking about two sexual powerhouses such as Tuesday Weld and Elvis Presley.)
What he does in the moment I’m talking about is simple as can be, natural and un-pushed, but eloquent and deep. From that moment, you know those two are going to go at it. Presley and Weld’s characters in Wild in the Country are bad news together when they finally hook up, but it is awesome cinema when Elvis is allowed to be wild, dirty, troubled, and careless, with a gal by his side who is even more so, a woman who has had a baby out of wedlock, eats with her mouth open, lets her dress strap fall down on her shoulder, and laughs with her head thrown back. They’re electric together.
Tuesday Weld said, in re: Presley:
He walked into a room and everything stopped. Elvis was just so physically beautiful that even if he didn’t have any talent . . . just his face, just his presence. And he was funny, charming, and complicated, but he didn’t wear it on his sleeve. You didn’t see that he was complicated. You saw great needs.
As electric as she is in Wild in the Country (and it’s unbelievable to think how young she is, to give such an assured performance), I love her especially in Pretty Poison with Anthony Perkins. It recently got a run at Film Forum and it was awesome to see it on the big screen. Her beauty is undeniable, and it works almost like an assault in the film. She is irresistible. But as the film goes on, you start to see/feel other more creepy sides. With the last frame, you are left with more questions. Her presence enlarges the second the film ends. It’s a character you walk around thinking about.