View Full Version : Change Of Habit (1969)

09-25-2004, 08:42 PM

Theatrical-Release: 1970
Studio: NBC/Universal
Producer: Joe Connely
Director William Graham
Film Length: 93 mins
Colour/B&W: Colour


Dr. John Carpenter - Elvis Presley
Sister Michelle - Mary Tyler Moore
Sister Irene - Barbara McNair
Sister Barbara - Jane Elliot
Mother Joseph - Leorna Dana
Lt. Moretti - Edward Asner (Asner starred as "Lou Grant" in later years)


Elvis plays a hip, devoted doctor who runs a clinic in a Latin-Negro slum neighborhood.
Three young nuns, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara McNair and Jane Elliot, are instructed by their order to do social work in the ghetto and change their habit in favor of modern dresses.
Their mission however is misunderstood by the conservative part of the Church and they are forced to take up te habit again.
Then Elvis realises that he has fallen in love with a nun (Mary Tyler Moore).

After a short while the nurses are sent back to their convent where Mary can't forget about Elvis. She returns to the neighborhood and watches Elvis leading a rock and roll mass.
Then she must make a choice: Elvis or the Church.
Which she chooses is left for the audience to decide.

Behind The Scenes:

Change Of Habit was Elvis' 31st movie and his last dramatic role.

Production began in early March 1969 and was complete in May. Most of the exterior scenes were filmed around 5th and Main Streets in downtown L.A.

During the opening scenes of the movie a bus passes, advertising radio station KDAY, Los Angeles. Unfortunately the movie's location was supposed to be New York.

Change Of Habit reached No.17 on the years end list of top-grossing movies.


Change Of Habit
Have A Happy
Let Us Pray

Movie Trailer: (no trailer, scene from movie)

YouTube - Elvis Presley Change Of Habit

Related Links:

Pictures: www.tcb-world.com/gallery/browseimages.php?c=82&userid= (http://www.tcb-world.com/gallery/browseimages.php?c=82&userid=)

09-25-2004, 09:00 PM
:excl: This moviereview has been taken from Ken's World Of Awful Movies (http://www.jabootu.com/kwamarchive/Default.htm):

A Change Of Habits
by Ken


It?s seldom pretty when two film genres collide. Particularly these two: the "Elvis" movie and the "Social Relevance" flick. It?s 1971. Running out of steam after thirty (!) other mostly mindless teenybopper musicals, The King decided to roll the dice on a Socially Conscious movie that the rebellious kids could "dig". To help bring in the middle-class, more bourgeois audience, they also enlisted TV?s sexiest housewife: Mary Tyler Moore, then from the "Dick Van Dyke Show". After this disastrous attempt at film stardom, Mary wisely retreated to the tube, starring in the classic "Mary Tyler Moore Show".

We open in a convent, where we meet our first three protagonists: Sisters Michele (Moore), the leader; Barbara, the political firebrand; and Irene, the inevitable Black, streetwise nun. Their mission: Quit the useless task of trying to succor mankind through the Word of God, and instead go out to the Streets, where they can have an immediate and more concrete impact. To aid in this noble mission, a little deception is necessary. For if they allow themselves to be known as Nuns, well, The People will see them as members of the "Old Order". No, if they are to be effective, The People, as Michele informs us, must "accept us first as Women, then as Nuns". This "Undercover Nuns" bit is the film?s only real attempt at any sort of a plot, setting up complications both "comical" and "serious".

So The Sisters leave the convent, go forth to a salon, buy civilian clothes (?a change of habit. Get it?) and get their hair done. Reemerging out on the busy New York streets, The Sisters (actually, let?s call them "The Women", now that they?re, you know, incognito and all) quickly learn some of the dangers they now face by forsaking the convent. First, they?re almost mowed down when they try to cross a busy street against the light. I guess living in a convent has left them ill prepared to deal with manifestations of the outside world like "traffic". A cop, who was respectful to them when they wore their habits, now yells at them. Guys on the street try to pick them up. Finally, garbage thrown from a window almost bonks them in the head. Thus we learn, along with Our Heroines, of the myriad dangers involved in surrendering their identities as nuns (wow!).


Actually, the falling garbage turns out to be an elegant metaphor, for we immediately cut to Elvis? pad, where he?s serenading a multi-racial group of youngsters with the tune "Rubberneckin?". This establishes two vital pieces of info: 1) Elvis is "down" with the kids, possessing the "street credibility" that The Women are seeking, and 2) we shouldn?t expect to hear any decent music in this flick. The Women, in fact, end up right outside Elvis? digs, also the home of the Washington Street Free Clinic. Irene then refers to Michele as "Sister Michele". Michele herself then concludes that, if they don?t want people to know that they?re nuns, they probably shouldn?t address each other as "Sister". This strategic prowess shows why Michele is the leader of our little group.
Elvis lets them into the clinic, and a "humorous" round of mistaken identities occurs. Michele asks to see the clinic?s head doctor. Ha Ha! For the studly Elvis is the head doctor. But then Elvis himself joins the fun by assuming that the obviously non-ghetto threesome are here to try to obtain abortions (this is supposed to be funny). "All Three!", he whistles. "Just out of curiosity, was it the same guy?!" Finally, Elvis gets the picture: they want to help out at the clinic. Elvis predicts that they won?t last, but eventually relents.

In spite of the fact that Change of Habit is a short movie, it now jumps from sub-plot to sub-plot so quickly, and deals with so many different characters, that it?s hard to cover them in sequence without writing a very lengthy piece. For those who are interested in such, check out my insanely long text-only review, or download the zipped Word document of same. For those with less patience, let me cover the bases as fast as I can.

Michele, Irene and Barbara are our heroes, trying to bring justice and health to the downtrodden. They are joined by the hip Elvis, who, we eventually learn, came to the ghetto because a guy from Washington Street died saving while saving his life in (presumably) Vietnam. On the good side is a hip cop played by future "Mary Tyler Moore Show" co-star Ed Asner, and also fairly benign are two Black Panther-ish "Brothers", complete with Afros and Dashikis, who first confront Irene about whether she?s "really" black (ahh, the noble tradition of Black Americans questioning each other?s "authenticity"), but later help out (sort of) when Irene proves herself to them.


On the bad side are some Evil White Guys Exploiting the People for Their Own Personal Gain. These include "The Banker" a stereotypical big, fat gangster in sunglasses who drives around in a big, black Caddie, as well as the owner of the local Ajax Market, who exploits The People with high prices. This, for instance, keeps them from "buying toys for my children", as one women laments. Add in Father Gibbons, a sexist and reactionary Priest, along with two busy-body old Irish ladies who are racists and (of course) hypocrites to boot, and we are presented with a none-too-subtle array of the kind of white folks who in their various ways help keep the "underclass" oppressed and exploited.


Then there are The People themselves, who provide us with our necessary sub-plot. Pretty young Desiree has a crush on Elvis, and is jealous of Michele, as she doesn?t know she?s a nun. Elvis, also not knowing Michele?s a nun, keeps hitting on her. Michele, in spite of the fact that she does know she?s a nun, is, of course, attracted in turn to Doc E. Little girl Amanda is "autistic", and ends up getting cured in one of the most amazing and offensive motion picture scenes ever (again, see my long review or get the zipped Word file for complete details). The imaginatively named Julio Hernandez (he?s Hispanic, you know) is a violence-prone stutterer, who is suffering from an all too obvious self-esteem deficit. He instantly develops a fixation on Michele, and near the end of the movie tries to rape her in one of the less charming scenes I?ve seen. Father Gibbons tries to have The Sisters tossed out of his parish. Barbara decides that what The People need is a Block Party, in honor of some vaguely Marxist Catholic saint. Irene borrows money from the Banker in some obscure scheme to cause his downfall, which of course somehow works. Barbara takes on the owner of the Ajax Market. So on and so on. In the end, all is well, and the picture finishes with the fate of Michele (thinking of leaving the convent to marry Elvis) up in the air.


The film, if one actually bothers to examine it, is deeply offensive on a number of different levels. First is its basic gutlessness. The film wants to be hard-hitting (which it is, in a manner of speaking) and "relevant", but also wants to play it safe enough not the scare off the middle class audience members. This leads, on top of the constant and inane Lefty moralizing, to the film?s unpleasant mixing of "serious social issues" with a lot of truly awful comic "relief". So we see drug abuse, attempted rape, just avoided gang-rape, "autism", racism, and much, much more dealt with in inept fashion. These are "leavened" with comic elements such as Barbara vamping some guys to get them to move The Women?s furniture in; a guy sniffing house paint to get a contact high as he helps fix up The Women?s apartment; The Women being mistaken for hookers by both the busy-body neighbors and The Banker; the aforementioned "Elvis thinking The Women are pregnant" scene; lame one-liners by Doc E. and much, too much, more. And rest assured, all accompanied by awful and woefully obvious "comedy" background music.
The movie?s racial politics are especially egregious. The People have, of course, no control over their own destinies. Their problems are caused by Bad White People, and, ultimately, solved by Good White People. The fact that this is deeply racist in itself apparently never occurred to anybody working on the film. The only minorities who do anything positive are the "Brothers", and they don?t really do anything, the script just acts like they did. Black Sister Irene does manage to bring down The Banker, but that only works if you believe she could goad him to assault a nun in full habit in front of hundreds of witnesses. Um, is that how they got John Gotti? Besides, even if that happened, another White Exploiter would immediately fill his shoes. And if he didn?t, then some Black or Hispanic guy would (forgive me for being cynical). And in spite of Barbara?s bragging about her "victory" over the Ajax Market, we see absolutely nothing during the course of the film to indicate that she, in fact, accomplished anything there. Oh, well, at least little Amanda is completely cured of her "autism".

Also indicative of the film?s poorly conceived "radical" politics is the deep distrust of authority displayed. Primarily, of course, we see that The Sisters feel they must divest themselves of the badge of the Church?s moral authority, their habits, if they are to accomplish anything useful. Julio?s abusive father, it?s implied, is the cause of all of Julio?s problems. Amanda?s mother caused her "autism" by deserting her at a young age. The grocer at the Ajax Market, as well as The Banker, represent the corrupt authority of Capitalism. Ed Asner?s cop is a benign figure, it?s true, but only because he elects not to use his authority, but allows The People to solve their own problems.

The film?s biggest problem is with religious authority. Father Gibbons, by refusing to reach out to The People with masses in Spanish or "folk" masses (ugh), as well as being accusatory and unforgiving, of course represents the authority of religion "wrongly" used. The movie?s entire philosophy of religion dictates that it is only "useful" if wielded in the name of temporal political causes, as an instrument of Social Justice. This is deeply offensive to those who believe (as I do) that the role of Religion is to put people in touch with something Eternal, that transcends the here and now. Sister Michele attacks Gibbons by saying that he can be counted on to tell it "as it was". But Christianity, or Judaism, or any major religion is driven by the fact the its teachings are not only "how it was", but how it is and how it always will be. Ultimately, the film doesn?t believe that saving souls is as important as saving lives. In the end, Barbara leaves the Church in order to be free of its constraints as she strives to bring justice to the downtrodden, what she perceives to be the one truly worthwhile goal. As well, even though the film wimps out without telling us, it?s strongly implied that Michele will also leave the Church to wed Elvis. Only Irene, whose motive for becoming a nun was mainly to escape the poverty and crime of the ghetto, apparently will stay a nun, and I think we?re to believe that she will still continue to hold her newly awakened racial beliefs at least as strongly as her religious ones.


Doctor Elvis proves that laughter is the best medicine?
Pregnant Woman, being examined out in the waiting room(?): "You think it?s twins?"

Quippin? Doc E (in an accent that sound like a really bad Elvis impression):it?s the "I think Green Bay Packers, that?s what I think!" (Much laughter ensues.)


Later, our mirthful medic points at a waiting patient with a cast on her leg: "Don?t you run off. I?ll be right with you!" (Much laughter ensues.)

The Laughs just keep on comin??

"The Banker" thinks Barbara is a hooker, and: "Who gave you permission to set up shop in my territory?"

Barbara, unaware of his erroneous conclusion: "The Catholic Action Committee."
The Banker, shaking his head: "Well, nowadays everybody?s got a piece of the action!!"


After a fight, a youth explains his actions: "I don?t let nobody calls my sister a dirty, stinkin? *****! [Pause for comedic effect.] She ain?t dirty!"


Desiree, a teenage Hispanic cutie, begins unbuttoning her shirt in an effort to seduce the hunky Doctor E., setting the stage for this masterful comedic sequence:

Desiree: "Oh, Doc, I have such a pain in my left chest."
Elvis: "Your left chest?! Now wait a minute!"
Desiree: "Uh hum. A con-struc-tion!"
Elvis: "A what?"
Desiree: "A construction. I swear it. On my mother?s grave."
Elvis: "Your mother?s alive!"

Elvis explains the street rules for touch football to the neighborhood kids: "Those two trees are the goal at that end, these two trees are the goal down here. Trash cans are out of bounds. Two hands below the waist. You understand the rules?"
Helpful Barbara: "In the words of the Master, ?fake it for thirty-two bars!? "

Tough Black Radical No. 1, to Irene: "There?s no room down here for innocent bystanders. You?re either part of the problem, or you?re part of the solution."
Tough Black Radical No. 2: "We?ve got a feeling you?re neither!"

Elvis uses humor to keep the peace during the football game:
Team Caption Elvis: "Block the defensive tackle comin? in this time."

Youth: "If he tries to get past me, sssst, I cut ?im!"
Elvis: "Cool it! Fifteen yard penalty: Illegal use of knives!"

His scorn is as cold and sharp as a surgeon?s blade?
The Banker, to Elvis: "Hello. I was looking for you."
Elvis: "I can?t help you, Banker. I?m not a veterinarian!

? Ken's World Of Awful Movies

09-25-2004, 09:00 PM
This review has been taken from movieweb.com (http://movieweb.com/dvd/reviews/review.php?upc=025192211829&id=41)

Change Of Habit
by Kerouac (http://movieweb.com/dvd/reviews/list.php?q=A&u=11)

I'm an Elvis man. I dig the King's music. It's amazing stuff, and his influence is everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except in acting. Sure, the King made some decent flicks, but acting just wasn't his bag. He was a showman. He worked best feeding off a live audience. The camera was artificial, and it made him seem artificial in the process. The striking good looks were there, the movement was there, and the voice was there. But that something extra. That intangible THING that made women faint during his performances just didn't translate to the screen.

http://media.movieweb.com/dvd/hi/025192211829.jpgChange of Habit isn't a BAD movie, but it's not a good movie, either. Nor is it your typical "Elvis" movie. Here he plays a doctor working in the ghetto (yes, the song comes into play) who becomes smitten with Mary Tyler Moore, playing, of all things, a nun (who's working "undercover" in plan clothes with 2 other nuns at the hospital). The film plays out their involvement, and Elvis' attempt to get her to turn from a life for a the Church, to a life with him. (hence the catchy title of the film...)

The problem isn't with the movie, or the impromptu singing that is expected with an Elvis movie. It's the fact that we see glimpses of the actor Elvis would have liked to become. SOme of his moments are genuinely touching. And every so often, we're given a peek at some bottled up intensity, but Elvis was never given the chance to really explore these areas.

Mary Tyler Moore does what she can with the role, and she is, as always, solid. Although she's a bit miscast here, she does a fine job, and I have no complaints.

Oh yeah, and this film tries DESPERATELY to be socially conscious. They throw around more issues than a Teen Summit meeting. And for how hard they try, I give them credit. But for how impactful they were, well, they fell way short.

? Movieweb - Kerouac

03-17-2005, 08:38 AM
I think Change of Habit is one of the best movies Elvis did (along with Charro!).
Also the songs used in the movie are a lot better than the typical soundtrack numbers from previous films.
If your planning on buying only one Elvis film on dvd :angry: , make sure it's this one.
You won't regret it. :D

10-29-2005, 01:57 PM


10-29-2005, 08:42 PM
When this movie came out my mother, who did not care for Elvis movies,
actually liked it better than any one she had seen. She said he actually acted in her opinion. Now around our house this was praise from up high.She usually hated anything we listened to or liked to watch.

12-26-2007, 12:07 AM
I like this movie a lot. I can listen to the song 'Change of Habit' all day long. Having such a darn goodlooking Elvis as your doctor...gosh I'd be sick every week!

It's good to see him in a different light tackling social problems like racism, rape and oppression and how he deals with them. It's sad those matters are still very much alive today.

04-15-2008, 01:45 AM
I watched this movie not to long ago, I loved it, but then again call me crazy -I love all his movies :}

08-09-2008, 02:07 PM
Updated with movie trailer.


jean francois
11-03-2008, 11:16 PM
I think that is film is a masterpiece poor especially a nun loves Elvis


12-12-2008, 10:33 PM
This film is a masterpiece!!!Elvis was very sexy and a great actor in that movie...Also the plot is wonderful:notworthy:notworthy:notworthy

01-09-2009, 04:22 PM
I really like this movie.

01-09-2009, 04:47 PM
A movie genial,for my taste,and ELVIS very,very,very SEXY:blush:

04-30-2009, 05:29 AM
my favorite movie of elvis'

04-30-2009, 06:05 AM
To help bring in the middle-class, more bourgeois audience, they also enlisted TV?s sexiest housewife: Mary Tyler Moore, then from the "Dick Van Dyke Show". After this disastrous attempt at film stardom, Mary wisely retreated to the tube, starring in the classic "Mary Tyler Moore Show".

It's difficult to say that her attempt at film stardom was entirely disastrous however, in 1981 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in "Ordinary People." She lost her Best Actress award to Sissy Spacek, but the movie went on to win Best Picture and Robert Redford won the Oscar for Best Director.(y)

IMO...I enjoy "Change of Habit" every time I see it. To me, it's one of Elvis' best!:D(y)

04-30-2009, 12:16 PM
CHANGE OF HABIT COOL MOVIE:notworthy:notworthy:notworthy

05-01-2009, 12:01 AM
It's difficult to say that her attempt at film stardom was entirely disastrous however, in 1981 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in "Ordinary People." She lost her Best Actress award to Sissy Spacek, but the movie went on to win Best Picture and Robert Redford won the Oscar for Best Director.(y)

IMO...I enjoy "Change of Habit" every time I see it. To me, it's one of Elvis' best!:D(y)

Some people say Mary Tyler Moore was miscast in this film even though I haven't seen the movie in a long time I don't remember feeling she was.
I remember her being alright in it.

Interesting you mention the film Ordinary people she was good in that
A little bit of Trivia: Mary Tyler Moore beat out Ann Margret for that role.

05-01-2009, 10:43 PM
Some people say Mary Tyler Moore was miscast in this film even though I haven't seen the movie in a long time I don't remember feeling she was.
I remember her being alright in it.

Interesting you mention the film Ordinary people she was good in that
A little bit of Trivia: Mary Tyler Moore beat out Ann Margret for that role.
In "Ordinairy People" MTM played a bit**y, uptight, unsympathetic woman and mother to a tee. She really did a great job IMO and I thought she deserved her Oscar nomination.

05-01-2009, 11:27 PM
I've always liked COH. After a long but erratic movie career it's nice that he bowed out on one of the good ones.
And a killer bass-line in the title track (y)

05-02-2009, 12:21 AM
I've always liked COH. After a long but erratic movie career it's nice that he bowed out on one of the good ones.
And a killer bass-line in the title track (y)

that's how I would describe Elvis movie career and Change of Habit

05-02-2009, 01:27 PM

05-02-2009, 04:16 PM
Updated with clip from the movie

05-02-2009, 11:52 PM
One of Elvis better later 60's movies by far.Wouldn't mind having a doctor like that.

11-02-2009, 03:59 AM
"You're the doctor? You don't look like a doctor." there's always a line in every Elvis movie that just makes me smile, that I always remember. This is it for this movie.
The worst Elvis movie? That was harsh! In my opinion, this is one of the better movies, it did have some harsh scenes, but for the time, it was presented very well. The rape scene, well who likes watching that? Dr. John to the rescue, he outed the rapist and stayed behind to comfort poor Mary.
The carousel song - well, that was as usual out of place, although compared to other movie songs, went well withthe scene. He's singing to a little girl, trying to make her smile. [I've done it - in public, too. And people looked at me funny.]
This being his last movie, Elvis seemed so relaxed, & the movie did not have Elvis in every single scene. He was not the STAR of this movie, even tho his name came first. There were 4 separate stories, plus a series of sub-storylines that dealt with the Clinic people - Amanda, Julio & Desiree.

According to the article, the director was talking to Elvis, giving him some ideas on how to get a better performance from him, only to get shot down by the col. - perhaps he was truly afraid that like Binder, Graham could take his attention away- steal a bit of ole col.'s power :hmm: Well, it certainly didn't make me want to visit the slums, that's for sure. "don't go winning Elvis no Oscars - we don't own no tuxedos!" Well, it wasn't Midnight Cowboy - and that did win the Oscar that year.


12-28-2009, 09:20 PM
one of my favourites along with charro

12-28-2009, 10:43 PM
I love this Movie, and Flaming Star they are my top 2 then on down the line...I really hated to see Elvis in silly girlie movies, he was so much more.

12-29-2009, 09:20 PM
Together with Love Me Tender:wub:,is My Favourite Elvis Movie:wub:!Elvis is So Good,and of course So Gorgeous:wub:!I would have a Doc like this:wub:!

02-12-2010, 12:03 PM
I love this movie, in fact if I had one doctor so sex like Elvis I would get sick all day.

02-12-2010, 04:22 PM
Change Of Habit is the best Elvis movie, and Elvis is a very sexy doctor. :wub::wub::wub:

02-14-2010, 08:49 PM
I love this movie, Elvis is very wonderful, beautiful, yummy and sex there.

02-14-2010, 10:05 PM
It`s one of his best movies..

02-15-2010, 08:27 AM
he looks s*it hot in this.............I'd have a permanent appointment at my doctors if I had one looking like this................Mmmmmmmm

02-15-2010, 08:42 PM
i like Change of Habit, i think it was a brave step for Elvis to play such a differant role

03-09-2010, 01:34 AM


03-28-2010, 02:53 AM
deleted by user

05-21-2010, 02:41 AM

I couldn't resist after reading seyeregit's Mary comment.
This is one hilarious little clip :lmfao: