"HE THINKS HE'S ELVIS"
SCREENPLAY TREATMENT
WGA #624814

A comedy set in modern times Branson, MO and Las Vegas, NV.
by Marvin Arnold

At a high school, deep in rural Arkansas, kids are getting out of school. Our hero, Elvis Jones, follows the head cheerleader, Peggy Sue Dodson, to the school parking lot. Kids are running everywhere, boarding buses and conducting horseplay in general. As Elvis and the cheerleader walk towards his old beat up red Cadillac convertible, Elvis asks the cheerleader if she will go to the senior prom with him and she agrees.

Elvis drives home down a rural road to his parents cotton farm, listening to an Elvis Presley tape and singing along with it. When he gets home he pitches in to help his dad with the daily chores and then heads off to his evening job where he works at the local Dairy Queen.

The next day is senior's day at the high school, the day before graduation and there is an assembly in the auditorium. Elvis has always been a little bit of an outsider because of his tendency to dress flashy like his hero, Elvis Presley. At the assembly, the wills and prophecies for the graduating seniors are read. The prophecy for Elvis is that he will become the master of ceremonies at the Honky Tonk Bar & Grill down at the county line. The will which is read by one of the cheerleader, with all her girl friends giggling in the background, is that Elvis leaves his big mouth to anyone who can get his foot out of it.

At the Dairy Queen that evening, Peggy Sue tells Elvis that she can't go to the senior prom with him after all because all of her girl friends and their boy friends are making fun of her for accepting a date with him.

The next morning, Elvis tells his dad, Mr. Jones, that he has decided to leave Arkansas because he wants to pursue a career in music in the entertainment world. His dad tells him that there are some things he needs explain to him before he leaves.

Mr. Jones tells his adopted son that first of all, his name is not really Elvis. He was nicknamed Elvis because from the first time he heard the real Elvis singing on the radio, he began to dance and sing along with the music. Everyone just started calling him little Elvis and the name just stuck.

(Flashback - in black and white) A gray, cold and windy day on the cotton farm and a migrant cotton picker by the name of Presley comes to Mr. and Mrs. Jones and explains that his teenage daughter is pregnant and asks the Jones' if the girl can stay with them until the baby is born. One morning, the girl is gone and the baby is left in his crib with a note which reads, please take care of my baby boy.

Mr. Jones goes on to explain to Elvis that he has always known that he was left with them when he was just a baby, but that his birth certificate reads only Boy Child, father Unknown, mother Presley. Mr. Jones tells Elvis that the year The King died, he was very young, but he must have felt the sadness because he moped around the farm for weeks before he ever started singing again.

So Elvis comes to understand that his name is not really Jones and for that matter his name really wasn't Elvis either. Mr. Jones tells Elvis that he is welcome to use the name Jones because he and Mrs. Jones have always loved him and thought of him as their own son. Mr. Jones hands Elvis the tattered birth certificate and the family Bible where his birth was duly recorded as one Elvis Presley, born on the Jones farm near Poteau, Arkansas. Elvis tells the Jones' that no one will ever be his mom and dad except them, but he thinks that he will use his real name from now on.

His parents wish him well and his dad gives him a twenty dollar bill saying that it isn't much of a start, but maybe it will help out a little. They tell Elvis to please keep in touch and let us hear from you son so that we will know your okay. Elvis leaves driving down the dirt road in his old red Cadillac convertible with the tape deck blaring loudly. Elvis looks back and waves as he turns onto the main road toward town.

On his way out of town Elvis stops at the high school principal's office and has his diploma issued in the name of Elvis Presley. At first the principal doesn't want to put the name Elvis Presley on his diploma. Elvis, knowing that the principal is a good Christian man, shows him the family Bible where his birth was recorded. That is good enough for the principal and he fills out the diploma and shakes Elvis' hand and tells him good luck in whatever his future holds.

Elvis' next stop is at the county court house where he applies for a new driver's license to be issued in his real name. The clerk argues with him, saying that his birth certificate records only that his last name is Presley. Elvis says to the clerk that she has known him all of his life so what does she call him if she wants to get my attention? The clerk agrees that she has always known him only as Elvis. Turning to a near by deputy sheriff, Elvis asks the deputy what he thinks his name is? The deputy agrees that he has never heard anyone call him by any other name except Elvis. A new temporary driver's license is issued in the name of Elvis Presley. Elvis jumps in his car and watches the small town county seat fade in his rear view mirror as he drives out of town on a dusty gray morning.

It is a bright sun shinny afternoon as Elvis rolls into Branson and down main street, the famous Highway 67. Elvis is looking at the sights and reading the show bill signs. That night, he parks his car on a hillside overlooking the lake and sings himself to sleep, strumming on an old string guitar.

The next morning, the sun wakes him up and he starts out down the streets of Branson auditioning for any music job he can find. Elvis goes to one show theater after another (a quick moving montage of country music star cameos). Star after star tells him that he is good, but they can't use him in their show. They ask if he knows any other songs besides Elvis songs? Elvis tells them that those are the only songs he knows.

At the Country Palace Theater, Elvis is waiting on stage with several other performers to audition. Off in the darkness is the Country Palace's female country western star and her entourage who are listening to the auditions. When Elvis performs, some of her entourage make fun of Elvis and the she makes them hush up. The stage manager asks Elvis what his name is and he replies, Elvis, Elvis Presley, sir.

The stage manager laughs and comments that it sure takes a lot of guts to call yourself Elvis Presley. The stage manager remarks under his breath that he thinks somebody else may have already used that name. The stage manager tells Elvis that he doesn't have a spot for him in the show, but suggests that he looks a little lean and could use some fattening up. The stage manager says that they need a buss boy at the restaurant across the street. Elvis, guitar in hand, walks across the street and applies for the job. Of course, with Elvis' extensive experience at the Dairy Queen, he is hired immediately. At this restaurant, the waiters are encouraged to entertain the customers with a song any time the occasion arises. Elvis sings as he works and is quickly promoted to a waiter. In the following days, Elvis becomes a big hit with all the other employees and customers alike.

With his first paycheck, Elvis rents an apartment in Branson. Whenever Elvis has any spare time he works on this screenplay idea he has for a movie about the life of the real Elvis Presley. One afternoon on his day off, Elvis is sitting by the pool where he meets and strikes up a conversation with a young blond haired girl who also lives in the apartments. She works as a singer on the Stern Wheeler Showboat that cruises on the nearby Lake. Elvis and the girl visit all afternoon and Elvis explains how he came by his name and about this idea he has for going to Hollywood an making a movie about the real Elvis Presley. Elvis asks her to go out that evening and she accepts. As she leaves to go back to her apartment, Elvis remembers to ask her what is her name? She replies, Priscilla, Priscilla Sir. Elvis laughs saying, boy now that's a coincidence, but I've never heard of anyone with the last name Sir!

The following evening, the comedian who is the warm up act for the at the Country Palace, gets drunk and can't go on. Desperately in need of a performer, the female country western star remembers the kid named Elvis who had auditioned a few weeks before and she sends one of her band members over to the restaurant and get Elvis. She tells the band that Elvis is going to be her new warm up act. If the people don't accept Elvis, then they will laugh at him and either way its bound to work.

Elvis is hurriedly dressed and pushed onto the stage. He stands there for a couple of minutes, takes out his comb and combs his raven black hair. The crowd starts to murmur, who is this guy anyway. The band starts to play. Elvis brings down the house with his performance of the American Trilogy. He is a big hit and is offered a regular job performing at the Country Palace.

One afternoon, while Elvis and Pricilla are caught in a traffic jam on Highway 67, the old red Cadillac starts knocking and steam rolls out from under the hood. Elvis turns off the road and pulls into the nearest car dealership where the large sign reads, 4.5% Financing and $1,000 Cash Back. Elvis is greeted by a car salesman who tells Elvis that he saw him preform just the other night at the Country Palace and thinks he is great. Thank you, thank you very much, Elvis replies doing a cheap impersonation. The salesman slaps his side laughing. Elvis points to a white Eldorado convertible parked nearby and asked the salesman what the down payment would be on that one. The salesman tells Elvis the down payment would be fifteen hundred dollars. Elvis asks how much his old red Cadillac would be worth as a trade in and the salesman says about five hundred dollars max. Great, says Elvis, shaking the salesman's hand. Five hundred for old red and a thousand cash back, where do I sign?

Elvis and Pricilla drive off in the white Eldorado convertible. Elvis tells Priscilla that there was a talent agent in the audience during last night's show and that he came backstage and offered Elvis a job performing in one of the casino showrooms in Las Vegas. It pays about three times as much as he is making now, but he won't go without her. Priscilla agrees to quit her job on the Showboat and go to Las Vegas with Elvis.

(Night scene - Driving into Glitter Gulch downtown Las Vegas) Elvis and Priscilla arrive in Las Vegas. Priscilla stands up in the convertible looking around at the lights. Elvis becomes one of the headliners in the Great Performers of the Past show at one of the big casino showrooms. Priscilla gets a job as a Keno runner. Elvis explains that she doesn't have to work because he is making more than enough money to support both of them, but she insists on continuing to work while still looking for a singing job.

One of the performers in the show that Elvis works in is a Marilyn Monroe look alike and she puts a move on Elvis. Priscilla walks into the dressing room while Marilyn is hanging onto Elvis. Priscilla runs away crying and Elvis runs after her explaining there was nothing going on between him and Marilyn. Priscilla is the only girl he loves.

Elvis was always good at math in high school and he works out an odds system for playing the crap table. Each night he goes to a different casino and shoots crap for a few hundred dollars. His system wins about twice as many times as it loses and so that over a period of a a few hours, Elvis can double his money. Elvis is an odds player so he doesn't bet big and therefore he doesn't have to worry about losing big either.

Marilyn's boyfriend, Tony, is a con man who promotes phony real estate deals. Marilyn tells Tony about Elvis' system at the crap table. Tony is also involved in a money laundering scheme for some mobsters back east. They send Tony large amounts of money which he launders for twenty percent. The Feds are onto Tony, so he is looking for someone else to run the money over the crap tables besides himself. He approaches Elvis with the idea of how would Elvis like to have some real money to play with. Tony will stake him to as much gambling funds as Elvis wants. After the first night of gambling, Elvis loses about ten thousand dollars of the one hundred thousand dollar stake. Unknown to Elvis, the mobsters consider that an acceptable loss for laundering their money. Tony tell Elvis not to worry about it, but Elvis declines to gamble with Tony's money anymore.

Tony and Marilyn talk Elvis into endorsing a desert real estate land project by using his name to promote the property. Elvis and Priscilla go with Tony and Marilyn out to an area near Lake Mead where the real estate development is taking place. On the way back to town, its starts to rain and they pull into a roadside casino to put the top up on the convertible. Tony and Marilyn decide to stay at the casino and Elvis and Priscilla head back to town.

A tanker truck pulls up along side of Elvis' Eldorado and forces them off the road. Elvis and Priscilla jump clear of the car just before it rolls off a cliff and into Lake Mead. They stand watching the car as it sinks into the water. Elvis brushes the dirt off his pants and laughingly says that that wasn't too bad. He knew fellow who came out to Las Vegas in a twenty thousand dollar Lincoln Continental and went home in a two hundred thousand dollar Greyhound bus.

Elvis tells Priscilla that the only thing of value in the car was his family Bible, his high school diploma and his birth certificate. Elvis suspects that the accident with the truck was not an accident at all, but that someone is trying to knock off Tony. They probably didn't know Tony and Marilyn had gotten out of the car earlier.

Elvis had received fifty thousand dollars in cash from the real estate endorsement, so the next day he and Priscilla go to a car dealership and buy a new custom built red Cadillac convertible. Elvis talks the body shop mechanic into working all night to finish the custom top by the next morning when he would pick up the car.

The next evening there is a knock on Elvis' hotel door and he is arrested for being part of a money laundering scheme. When Priscilla finds out that Elvis has been arrested, she goes to see her casino boss. Her boss sends her to see his cousin Benjamin Bernsteen, who has just graduated from Harvard Law School and is setting up his own law practice in Las Vegas. The attorney, Benny, and Priscilla go to the Metro Police Station and meet with a task force investigator. The investigator is convinced that Elvis is not part of the money laundering scheme.

The investigator suggests that Priscilla and Benny discuss the matter with the district attorney (a woman). The district attorney works out a deal with Elvis. If Elvis will agree to one more money laundering spree for the mob, they will drop the charges against Elvis. The plan is to substitute the mobster's money with marked money that will be used as evidence against the money laundering ring when the money goes back East.

That night at the casino, Elvis and Priscilla meet Tony and Marilyn who give them a case containing the one million dollars in money to be laundered. During the evening, moving from casino to casino, the entire one million dollars is passed over the crap tables until all of the money has been laundered. As they leave the last casino, Priscilla switches the money in Tony's case with the marked bills provided by the Feds and throws the unmarked, laundered money in the trunk of Elvis' convertible. As the four start to get in the car, the police converge and the FBI places all of them under arrest.

Back at the Metro Police Station, the investigator and district attorney are talking to Elvis, Priscilla and their attorney Benny. The investigator explains that Elvis has kept his end of the bargain and that he no longer wishes to detain him. The district attorney says that there are now some Federal charges against Elvis that have arisen as a result of the desert real estate development promotion. These charges are unrelated to Elvis' involvement in the money laundering scheme, but Elvis would be charged with fraud in the other matter. You can't use a phony name like Elvis Presley to endorse a product or development the District Attorney explains. Elvis insists that it is his real name. The district attorney asks him how he can prove it. Elvis then remembers that the only proof he had was is in the trunk of the Eldorado that is laying at the bottom of Lake Mead now, and that lake is deep.

Elvis' is released on bail pending the court hearing on the Federal fraud charges. (It is now a few weeks before Christmas and the city of Las Vegas is decorated accordingly.) Priscilla tells Elvis that the district attorney is going to press her testify against him on the land deal when it comes up for trial.

Priscilla tell Elvis to pull into the next wedding chapel because they are going to get married right now. Elvis says that he wants to marry her, but not under these circumstances. Priscilla doesn't care. If she is his wife she can't be forced to testify against him. They enter the wedding chapel. The lady in the wedding chapel asks for some ID and Elvis shows her the only thing he has left with his name on it, an expired Arkansas temporary drivers license. Good enough for her, the lady says and marries them straight away.

The attorney, Benny, is laying in bed in his underwear watching TV with his girlfriend. The movie on the TV is Miracle On 34th Street. Benny jumps straight up out of bed and yells, eureka that is how I can prove he is really Elvis Presley. Benny goes to the postmaster in Las Vegas and gets all of the dead letters addressed to Elvis Presley delivered to Elvis in the court room (like the scene from the old movie). The case is dismissed.

The district attorney escorts Elvis and Priscilla to a back door as there is a large crowd of well wishers and press people waiting out front. As they leave through the back door of the courthouse, off in a dark corner of the alley is a long limousine sitting at idle. Elvis and Priscilla get in their waiting custom Cadillac convertible and Elvis asks the district attorney how he got out of the Federal mess so easy? The district attorney replies, you probably owe a little thanks to someone who is looking after you, as she turns and looks toward the limousine. The chauffeur to the limo opens the back door and seated in the rear of the limo is an aging and overweight Elvis Presley (a true Elvis sighting - white light illuminate the back seat passenger and the Elvis trumpet music intro sounds). The aging Elvis nods and mumbles something under his breath like, good luck kid. The chauffeur shuts the door and the limo pulls away down the darkened alley.

Elvis and Priscilla leave Las Vegas driving off into the sunset and the sign on the highway reads Los Angeles 272 miles.

It is a bright sunny afternoon. Elvis and Priscilla are driving down Sunset Blvd. Priscilla asks Elvis when did the Feds get the laundered money out of the trunk of the car. Elvis explains that he doesn't know what she is talking about. Priscilla yells for Elvis to stop the car! Elvis slams on the brakes and pulls over to the curb. Priscilla jumps out and runs around to open the trunk of the car. Its still here, all nine hundred thousand dollars of it, Priscilla screams.

Pulling into a Federal Express drop, Elvis takes two stacks of fifty thousand dollars each out of the bag and puts them in a Federal Express envelope addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Jones, RR1, Poteau, Arkansas.

The custom Cadillac convertible pulls back into the busy street traffic and the Hollywood hills sign is seen off in the distance. (voice over) Priscilla says, "you know that movie you always wanted to make?" Elvis says, "yeah, we'll just make it ourselves." (triple pull away) Priscilla says, "Elvis Presley, I love you!" Elvis says, "thank you, thank you very much." (freeze frame - roll credits)


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