Elvis & Nixon photography from 1970. White House photograph by Ollie Atkins
Elvis & Nixon photography from 1970. White House photograph by Ollie Atkins

The Most Requested Moment in Photography

A picture can be worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture is worth a feature film starring Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon.

The photograph that the Elvis & Nixon took together has become the most demanded photograph from the National Archives.


When I look at the black and white picture, the first thing I notice is former President Nixon’s standard fake smile, and the sedated look on Elvis’ face. The film does an excellent job of showing the bags under Elvis’ eyes. It is clear that he was up the previous night, but when you review his drug history, it would also parallel with that time period of his life. His inner turmoil with substance abuse creates a dysfunctional meeting with Nixon.

This photograph could also been seen as one of the early signs of a failed war on drugs.

Think about it. You have the man that started the war on drugs shaking the hand of a man that used drugs during most of his career. That moment is a paradoxical occurrence,  and should also help show how the government has failed at giving medical attention to those in mental help. Instead, the US uses prisons and capitalism to enslave a large section of the population for cheap labor.

This film does an excellent job of providing insight behind the meeting, and the two main characters. I had known that there was a divide between Elvis and Beatles fans, but this film helps me understand a little more on how Elvis viewed counterculture.

Johnny Knoxville adds comic relief to the film with his animated, and Tennessee-based style.

Smithsonian.com reported on the historic event as well. They noted:

On the red-eye to Washington, Elvis scribbled a letter to President Nixon. “Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out,” he wrote. All he wanted in return was a federal agent’s badge. “I would love to meet you,” he added, informing Nixon that he’d be staying at the Washington Hotel under the alias Jon Burrows. “I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a federal agent.”

The film is setup to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 4/18 at 9:00 p.m. EST. The first screening will be held at John Zuccotti Theater at the BMCC

Watch a featurette below via Amazon Studios.

Elvis & Nixon Featurette

Elvis & Nixon Trailer