by Kilian Fitzgerald
A happy belated birthday to Elvis Presley, the King of rock and roll, born January 8th, 1935. Forgetting to honor the King’s birthday is understandable given the events of these past few months. Throughout his career, the Tennessee native, actor, and fried peanut butter and banana sandwich enthusiast, crossed racial barriers while popularizing rock and roll. During Elvis’s film career that included Blue Hawaii, the romantic comedy that cemented his status as an icon of the Aloha state, the King also graced Napa’s wine country.
Released in the summer of 1961, Wild in the Country, the musical drama set in Virginia but filmed in Napa, was directed by Phillip Dunne. Known as one of the writers behind the Biblical film, The Robe, Dunne was also a vocal opponent of Mccarthyism, in contrast to the public support expressed by Walt Disney and future Governor Ronald Reagan.
Wild in the Country saw Elvis play a Southern bad boy named Glen who was sent to live with his uncle in the hopes of improving his wayward life. During the filming of the movie, overzealous fans of the King drove Elvis out of Casa Beliveau, his Napa hotel and forced him to stay at St. Helena’s Ink House. Thus, Napa has its own history of the idiom “Elvis has left the building.” While Casa Beliveau no longer exists, the Ink House, a filming location for Wild in the Country, is still open today and proudly showcases its history with the King of rock and roll.
Film poster courtesy IMDb: Wild in the Country (1961) – IMDb
Folkart, Burt A. (June 4, 1992). “Philip Dunne, Writer-Director Who Opposed Blacklists, Dies”. Los Angeles Times.
Rule, Sheila (4 June 1992). “Philip Dunne, 84, Screenwriter And an Opponent of Blacklisting”. New York Times.
Wild in the Country. Retrieved February 18, 2021 from
History of the Ink House: https://www.inkhousenapavalley.com/history/