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While there may be millions of photographs in the National Archives, the most requested was taken in December 1970 of the King of Rock 'n' Roll locked in a firm handshake with the 36th president of the United States.
The story behind the black-and-white portrait and the meeting of two of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century is the basis for "Elvis and Nixon," a breezy odd-couple comedy opening Friday.
An anxious, frustrated Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) flies to Washington, D.C., with friend Jerry Schilling (Alex Pettyfer) with an urgent request to meet with President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Elvis wants to be sworn in as an undercover Federal Agent at Large, which would allow him to help combat America's rising drug problem.
On the plane, Elvis pens a hand-written note that he personally delivers to the White House gate. The letter makes it way to Nixon's aides Egil "Bud" Krough (Colin Hanks) and Dwight Chapin (Evan Peters), who pass it along to chief of staff H.R. Haldeman (Tate Donovan). Initially against the idea, Haldeman relents when he realizes it might help Nixon's image with the youth.
Nixon also balks, until his star-struck daughter Julie says she wants The King's autograph.
Elvis' cross-country trip includes several priceless moments, including a run-in with impersonators; a doughnut shop excursion; and a surprise gift for Nixon that sends White House security into a tizzy.
Shannon, while not a dead ringer for Presley, exposes a lonely and reflective Elvis, with just enough bling and star power to make him believable.
Spacey, who has had practice being the U.S. president in his role as Frank Underwood in "House of Cards," mimics Nixon's voice, mannerisms and hunched posture perfectly. His performance shows a likable side to the much-maligned president.
The meeting between Elvis and Nixon happened before tape recorders were installed in the Oval Office, so there are no official records of what happened that day. Screenwriters Joey Sagal and Hanala Sagal and actor Cary Elwes relied on firsthand accounts from Schilling and Krough.
While history might not have unfolded exactly as "Elvis and Nixon" suggests, it's entertaining to imagine that two people from oddly different arenas became such fast friends.
'Elvis & Nixon'
A breezy odd-couple comedy about a meeting between the King of Rock 'n' Roll and the 36th president of the United States.
Where • Area theaters.
When • Opens Friday, April 22.
Rating • R for some language.
Running time • 86 minutes.