200 Cadillacs

20 03 2007

On Sunday evening I saw this interesting little film called 200 Cadillacs. It’s an inside look at Elvis Presley’s habit of giving cars as gifts to friends, acquaintences, employees, fans, and, yes, sometimes total strangers.

Elvis mythology says that he gave away 200 Cadillac cars through the years. Rex Fowler, who conceived and produced the movie, believes that Elvis may indeed have given away 200 cars in his lifetime although not all of them were Cadillacs. The gambit of outrageous gifts extended beyond cars to include expensive jewelry, custom-made jewelry, dogs, horses, and houses among other things.

200 Cadillacs is not an award-winning production, but the movie does an admirable job of capturing the generosity of Elvis’ spirit. While I think his practice of surprising people with fabulously expensive gifts was ultimately a subversive power-trip and a not-so-subtle attention-grabbing behavior, I do think some part of Elvis’ soul was truly altruistic and wanted to help out those who he perceived were less financially well off than he.  And even though I could think of 200 ways of spending such wealth far more efficiently and effectively in a manner that could benefit far more people, I’ve got to believe that, on some level, “the King” really meant well.

In any case, I think the time to watch 200 Cadillacs is well spent. I found the movie listed in the IMDB  and on Netflix, if any of you want to take a peek. The movie soundtrack includes original works from Rex Fowler and the Jersey band called The Cucumbers. Both  Rex and half of The Cucumbers performed live for us following the movie. Rex is a member of a group called Aztec Two-Step.

And bravo to Sanctuary Concerts for making the whole thing possible and providing authentic Elvis food — fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and fried peanut butter, jelly and bacon sandwiches, a unique culinary sensation. I know how hard it is to draw suburban New Jerseyans from the comfort of their over-sized family rooms to attend any sort of culturally interesting, but a little off-beat performing arts event…keep at it…sooner or later they’ll get it!

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