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Kissin' Cousins


Kissin' Cousins
2.6 / 5
Released: 2007/08/07 by Paramount Home Video
In his 15th film, the King takes on two roles, playing dark-haired Air Force Lt. Josh Morgan and Morgan’s adversary, blonde good ol’ boy Jodie Tatum. Lt. Josh’s assignment: try to convince his look-alike cousin Jodie to allow a missile site to be built on his land. A fistful of tunes "Barefoot Ballad", "It’s a Long Lonely Highway,""Tender Feeling,"the title song and 6 others), some whoop-it-up-dancing and 13 mountain cuties called Kittyhawks add to the down-home delights.

ElvisNews review

The King saw Cynthia Pepper on TV, suggested her for 'Kissin' Cousins' role

Elvis Presley had seen her in a TV sitcom and suggested her for a role in a 1964 movie in which he would tell her she was "as purty as a little ol' speckled pup."

The movie was "Kissin' Cousins," in which Elvis played a dual role as an Army officer and as the officer's hillbilly cousin. It was the hillbilly character, Jodie Tatum, who used the puppy pickup line on actress Cynthia Pepper.

Cynthia Pepper and Elvis Presley were on the cover of the July 22, 1964, edition of Everybody's, an Australian teen magazine, for a story about "Kissin' Cousins."

"I played hard to get, but I succumbed," says Pepper, 67, of her character in the film that still earns her residuals 43 years after its release.

Now living in Henderson, Nev., Pepper will be in Memphis Sunday to take part in an Elvis Insiders Reception and Graceland tour, part of a four-day celebration of Elvis' birthday. He would have been 73 on Jan. 8.

For Pepper, "Kissin' Cousins" was a brief chance to know -- and kiss -- a sometimes self-doubting Elvis. The movie was shot in only 17 days as part of the money-making formula that protected Elvis' wholesome image, but wore on his patience.

"It was entertaining and innocent. The movies obviously were lighthearted. We all know he could have done a lot better. He was a better actor than the movies allowed him to be," says the actress.

Pepper was a veteran actress by the time "Kissin' Cousins" came along. Daughter of a vaudeville actor, she was on stage at age 4 with actress Julie Harris on Broadway. She had her own sitcom, "Margie" set in the Roaring '20s; had a recurring role on "My Three Sons" and played Sandra Dee's roommate in the movie "Take Her, She's Mine." After "Kissin' Cousins," she made guest appearances in several TV episodes, including "The Flying Nun" and "The Jimmy Stewart Show," and last appeared in a cameo role in the 2005 film "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous."

Pepper says she was given the part in "Kissin' Cousins" on short notice. She got a telephone call and was given two days to report to the set.

"My agent said Elvis had seen me on TV and suggested me for the part," says Pepper. Some of the cast members would become better known in other realms. Maureen Reagan, daughter of eventual President Ronald Reagan, had one line in the movie. Teri Garr, who would become a well-known actress, was a dancer in the film.

Pepper played an Army stenographer assigned to accompany a lieutenant (Elvis) to the hills of East Tennessee to negotiate the sale of land to build a missile base. There, they encountered angry property owners, including the lieutenant's cousin (a hillbilly Elvis in a blond wig).

The hillbilly Elvis fell for Pepper in the movie, leading to a romantic scene in which Pepper says she kept "flubbing" lines in order to repeat a kiss with Elvis. "I got to do it six or seven times. I could have done it in one or two takes, but why would I?"

Pepper says she came to know Elvis as a "regular guy. He was a little unsophisticated at the time. He would sit around and talk about trucks and would say 'Miss' or 'Ma'am.' There weren't any airs about him."

As filming went on, Pepper says she realized Elvis wasn't sure of himself at that stage in his career.

"I felt that he was quite insecure at the time," she says. "He said to me one time, 'I don't know what I'm doing here.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I should be back home driving a truck.'

"I think he had all the insecurities that we all had. I think that's one reason he had all those guys (his entourage known as the Memphis Mafia) around him -- to buffer himself from the outside."

During her Memphis visit, Pepper will be a guest with former Elvis hairstylist Larry Geller and members of the TCB Band at a reception in Graceland Plaza, followed by a special evening tour of Graceland.

JerryNodak wrote on June 10, 2007
It'll be great to have this on DVD with the Smokey Mountain Boy sequence restored.
Dan wrote on June 18, 2007
what happened with the "smokey mountain sequence" to begin with.Never heard about that....
Rating: 3 / 5
JerryNodak wrote on June 19, 2007
When KC was first issued in VHS all the songs were included. Some years later when KC was re-released, the "Smokey" sequence had been edited out due to copyright/music royalty issues. I have a VHS copy of each. Glad that the parties involved have finally settled these issues.
Sean Ryan wrote on June 21, 2007
id actually have that song edited out of this version.Not quite a classic!!!
Rating: 3 / 5
JerryNodak wrote on June 22, 2007
That's NOT the point. The song advances the action.
Mystery Rider wrote on June 24, 2007
Another failure for cover, might sell better if it had a nude of Colonel Parker on it. The art people here have no idea on how to sell a package. Just because its Elvis dosent make it an I gotta have it.
JerryNodak wrote on June 26, 2007
Folks who buy these movies already have a pretty good idea about what they're buying. The cover isn't going to make a bit of difference. They either want it or they don't. Besides a cover with two Elvises and two pretty girls would certainly catch my eye.
Mystery Rider wrote on June 29, 2007
once again why is his name half of the cover somebody finished last in marketing and design
thefunkyangel wrote on July 01, 2007
Yeah I love the blooper at the end of Smokey Mountain Boy where the army soldiers jump out of their jeeps, twice! Man, I am looking forward to all these dvd's being released! Cheers!
Rating: 3 / 5
Narek wrote on July 01, 2007
MysteryRider, Your similar post in all items is very annoying. Please, we all are now aware that you don't like those covers.
Rating: 3 / 5
Mystery Rider wrote on July 06, 2007
i must state what i feel. A poorly market product. Every is trying to make a Buck of the name Elvis. Produce a decent product. in the beginning on 45 rmp too much and all shook up didnt even have his name on the cover just the face and good music. here they splash the name over 50 percent of the cover, plus give you a re-cycled movie that really was something just to fill the movie contracts signed by colonel (50%)parker
Tony D. wrote on July 08, 2007
To nit pick the artwork is churlish. This sort of movie might not be Elvis at his best, but there are many Elvis completists who want to own Elvis' entire cinematic collection. And although we may even only watch this film just once or twice in our life time, it is an Elvis film so we must own it for the sake of completeness.
Rating: 3 / 5
Jumpin Jehosaphat wrote on August 02, 2007
if you really give it a thought this movie could have had Jerry Lee Lewis playing the part after his was really a Kissing Cousin, which knocked him out of the box in the summer of 58.
Iron Man wrote on August 22, 2007
Not the best Presley movie, but much better than the Hawaiian films and some of the late 60-s movies.
Rating: 3 / 5
Jumpin Jehosaphat wrote on December 10, 2007
At this point Elvis should have taken 3 years off and not made any more of these Bad movies
OtisBlue22 wrote on December 12, 2007
Very uninspiring, on par with Girls! Girls! Girls! The songs, while half-decent, fail to stick in the viewer’s mind. Elvis is on charming autopilot and never really looks too interested. The most entertaining aspect of this film is the amateurish editing (even for scenes where we only see Josh or Jodie alone, and not together, they still use a stand-in). Then again, it’s pretty impressive considering they filmed it over the course of 2 weeks. Is that Red West playing Elvis’ cousin? Whoever it is, they have an abnormally large forehead which sticks out, betraying the fact that the head of casting (if one existed) couldn’t be bothered to get someone who looks remotely like Elvis. Viva Las Vegas was so much better, but that was filmed before. Kissin’ Cousins has to be one of Elvis’ most embarrassing outings (Kittyhawks?!); it has no soul whatsoever. Also, Ma Tatum’s solo spot is plain depressing. Jack Albertson -- from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory!!! -- is the best thing going for this film.
Rating: 2 / 5