I often think about Elvis and what his life would have been like without Colonel Parker and going into the Army and how at one point, you couldn’t show him from the waist up or girls would spontaneously get pregnant and by 1969, The King had been in 31 movies. They made them fast, they made them cheap, but even then they weren’t making as much money. But hey — Parker still got a million a movie, even if the films moved to TV.
Change of Habit was supposed to be a Mary Tyler Moore movie until Elvis came on board, but really, it’s still her movie. She plays Sister Michelle, who along with her fellow future Brides in Christ Irene (Barbara McNair, Mister Tibbs’ wife) and Barbara (Jane Elliot, General Hospital) have been sent to the inner city to work as lay missionaires until completing their vows. So yeah, the whole point of this movie is that even a life in service to God is difficult to comprehend after the potential of being pounded by The King of Rock and Roll. Or Dr. John Carpenter, which makes me laugh every time they say his full name.
Actually, this is the mosy upstanding occupation that Elvis ever had in a movie, but when you consider that he played a shrimp fisherman, a photographer, a water skiing instructor, a frogman, a lifeguard, a helicopter pilot, a rodeo rider, a tour guide and a race car driver three times, well, it’s a living.
That said, Elvis himself was doing pretty well. The comeback special had already been broadcast, the album that it sold was a huge success and he’d just finished recording the two songs that would point to his comeback as a force in American music, “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.” His career no longer needed the movies.
Anyways, Change of Habit is a fun time. I mean, nuns and Elvis. You can’t beat that. And Ed Asner shows up as a cop, which is hilarious given his politics, and he and Moore don’t share a scene here but a year later they’d be talking spunk on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
With a trailer and commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson, the Kino Lorber blu ray of this movie is a blast. I kind of like that I have an Elvis movie just waiting to watch whenever I need it. Here’s hoping they release some more beyond this, Clambake, Frankie and Johnny, and Elvis: Return to Tupelo.