Gun-toting, cape-wearing Memphis yokel (Michael Shannon) asks for and is given some face time with President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). The only problem with Liza Johnson‘s Elvis & Nixon, which began shooting a year ago in Louisiana, is that the material seems more suited to a 25-minute short than a feature. The karate, handgun and Dr. Pepper bits are good. (The script is by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes.) All along I’ve had my doubts about Shannon’s casting as The King, but I like what I see here. We knew from the get-go that Spacey would ace Nixon. But why isn’t this 4.15 release, a joint venture between Bleecker Street and Amazon, booked into Sundance?

Posted on 2.5.15: Elvis Presley launched his legendary career in part as a symbol of rock n’ roll rebelliousness against the sexual repression and conformity of the mid-Eisenhower era. But by 1970 Presley had evolved into a conservative hypocrite who wanted to do something to stop the scourge of non-prescription drug use (i.e, pot and hallucinogens) among the nation’s youth. On 12.21.70 Presley paid a visit to President Richard Nixon at the White House. Presley had hand-written Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit and suggesting that he be made a “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Six and a half years later Presley died of prescription drug abuse and an overdose of peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches.

Liza Johnson‘s Elvis & Nixon began shooting in New Orleans on 1.12.15. It costars Kevin Spacey as Nixon and Michael Shannon as The King. Cassian Elwes and Holly Wiersma are producing with Autumn Pictures’ David Hansen and Johnny Mac financing and executive producing alongside Byron Wetzel, Robert Ogden Barnum and Jerry Schilling.

(l.) Michael Shannon as 35 year-old Elvis Presley, (r.) Kevin Spacey as Richard M. Nixon in Liza Johnson‘s currently shooting Elvis & Nixon.