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Deke Rivers


By Ger Rijff

A sunny sunday afternoon in Amsterdam, back in the year 1959. Hundreds of young kids line up outside of the Odeon Cinema. Playing that afternoon is Loving You. In line with me, waiting to buy tickets, are my father and my brother. Our dad is probably the only adult in the crowd!

That weekend we stayed with family living outside of Amsterdam. They were farmers. By sheer luck, during breakfast that sunday morning, my brother noticed a tiny ad in the newspaper’s film-section for Loving You. He and I both idolized Elvis, but we never have had the chance to see any of his four films up till then. Our dad offered to accompany us on the one hour bicycle journey from the farm back to Amsterdam. We didn’t own a car. My parents, both working full-time, 6 days a week, could not afford the luxury of a family car. Hardly anybody working class owned a car in those days.


R6 R1Paralysed
The theater was packed that afternoon. When finally, after several cartoons and a 15-minute documentary about the Papuas in New Guinea, the main attraction started … I was glued to the big plush chair while Elvis’ hiccup hot patato vocal on the title song totally paralysed me.
The moment he drove onto the screen in that weird little automobile, he looked like a visitor from another planet! His fantastic quiff and sideburns, the denim shirt, the faded jeans. Nobody looked as fantastic as Elvis did back then, it was unreal! I was 7 years young and in love for the time.


R3 R5Hot rod, cool rod
The Hot Rod, as seen in Loving You, dates back to the late 1930’s and was build by one John Athan from Southern California. In 1996 the car was restored to its original looks and is currently on display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, California.


hot rod topic R10 R11I know nothing about carburators, chassis or V-8 engines myself, but if you would like to know more about the history of this classic little automobile, please click the following link:


R17 R18Kids in late 50’s Amsterdam, waiting for the cinema doors to open.




10No doubt about it, it was James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause (1955) who had popularised Blue Jeans with the teen crowd of the day. But I didn’t know who Dean was back in the 1950’s. It was Elvis (as Deke Rivers in Loving You) who would forever change my taste in clothes. I was determined to get me a pair of Jeans, and a denim jacket to make the picture complete! But that was easier said than done. Back then no American made Jeans were available in Amsterdam. Only cheap looking imitations were sold. My mom agreed to go shopping with me one Saturday afternoon after she had finished her work in a grocery shop that was owned by her brother. We travelled by tramcar to the centre of the city. I remember being all excited with the idea of showing the (still to be bought) Jeans to my schoolmates the following monday …
At home I had shown my mom a picture of Elvis from Loving You, cut out from a copy of a popular Belgian weekly titled Piccolo. It showed him in the full denim outfit on his knees on stage. My hero!

04After a short walk we would arrive at Peek & Cloppenburg on the corner of the Kalverstraat and The Dam: “Men’s Clothes For All Ages”. Mom explained to one of the shop assistants she was looking for a pair of Blue Jeans to fit my size. “Ah, yes, very popular with the kids of today!”, he replied.

After a few minutes he returned with a stack of Blue Jeans that actually turned out to be Green Jeans. “See, it’s got nice back pocket zippers and a silver colored Sheriff star dangling from a front pocket zipper to match”. “But they are Green Jeans ….”, I stuttered. “It’s the only color in stock”, the assistant replied a little irritated. I did like the zippers and the shiny silver Sheriff-star alright, so I gave in rather quickly. My mom paid the lady behind the counter and we left the shop.

“You like ’em, doncha?”, mom asked on our way out. “Well yes …, they don’t look like the Jeans Elvis has, but he would surely have liked a Sheriff-star attached to his Jeans! And he plays a cowboy in one of his other films, did you know that?”. My mom smiled and we walked into the direction of an Ice cream parlor to celebrate my first pair of Green Blue Jeans …


Below the original jacket, shirt and boots used for the movie.

A4 - horizontaal



Both the jacket and jeans were manufactured by Levi’s. The best in denim design.

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5 Comments Post a comment

    In the Hollywood screen musical “Two Tickets For Broadway”, with Janet
    Leigh (mom of Jamie Lee Curtis) and Tony Martin, who sang There’s No
    Tomorrow (It’s Now Or Never) to the top of the US charts in 1949 headline
    in this typical sugar coated musical comedy. Screen play by Hal Kanter, yes
    the Kanter from Loving You. But the Elvis connection doesn’t end there…
    During the opening scene of “Two Tickets”, Deke’s very own Hot Rod
    can be seen speeding the highway, driven by a couple of College kids!
    It was by sheer coincident I spotted the Rod, last Saturday morning on
    the BBC , while switching channels…
    Kooool !

    May 29, 2013
  2. S.Fischer #

    What a great site :-) … very, very interresting!


    May 29, 2013
  3. Alexander Nijeboer #

    Great to read your personal story, Ger. The site is geting better and better. Also nice to see 50s photos of good old Amsterdam. That cinema is the intimate De Uitkijk on the Prinsengracht, isn’t it?

    May 29, 2013
  4. Yup, it’s cinema De Uitkijk, Alexander. I believe having been there only
    twice in my teen -years. Too far away from where we lived back then.
    With my big brother I went to see Rock Around The Clock…but that turned
    out to be Twist Around The Clock, due to a typo in the newspaper…!
    And with my dad, somewhere in the mid-sixties, I was treated to Jailhouse
    Rock on a sunday morning. My dad, who was a big Fred Astaire fan, loved
    Elvis doing his dance moves during the title song. He was a great dad.

    May 30, 2013
  5. Paul Richardson #

    As also featured in the new issue of ‘The Man & His Music’.

    Keep up the great work, Bob and Ger. The site’s looking great!

    May 30, 2013

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