The life and career of Elvis Presley are chronicled in home movies, concert footage, and dramatizations. Subjects include early performances, army service, Ed Sullivan Show appearance, marriage, 1968 comeback, health decline and death.
Paul Boensch III
My husband almost had to throw a bucket of cold water on me
Sorry, but I'm not made of wood, people. I should probably mention right now as some sort of disclaimer that I'm going to do my best to focus on the details of the new Special Edition DVD here, but I was seriously distracted from technical details because Elvis looks so damn gorgeous and sexy in this footage. I'm not exaggerating, nor am I alone here. I've read at least 20 books about Elvis by those who were closest to him, and they all agree that he hit his peak around 69-70. By 68 he lost all the baby fat he had before and then some, was in the best shape of his life, tan, healthy, and confident. "Thin as a rake and more handsome than 10 movie stars" is the quote from a reporter that kept coming to my mind. Members of the Memphis Mafia said that around this time, they would frequently be looking for Elvis and find him admiring himself in the mirror and saying things like, "Damn, I'm one good-lookin' sonofagun!". Watching this movie, you definitely don't blame him one bit. I better just move on to the actual movie here before I start really embarrassing myself, but I think most people would agree that it's probably impossible for anyone to watch this and not see why Elvis caused women to completely lose control around him.
OK, anyway, where was I? Since this hasn't gone into wide release as of this writing, we were lucky to find a rental DVD copy a few days ago. I'd heard it was great, but expected maybe 1 or 2 new songs or alternate takes and 5 minutes more of rehearsal footage, plus a better picture/ sound quality. This is just like a second (better, I thought) version of the movie. Most of the footage of the fans that went on too long in the first version is gone. I have to admit that some of the original interviews with babbling fans loaded down with every type of Elvis souvenir (and it if it was wearable, wearing it all at once) probably helped cause the stereotype most people have of Elvis fans as lunatics. I've had people (usually, they were born after Elvis passed away) look at me like they way they would at a member of a cult dancing around in an airport when I mention that I'm a big Elvis fan. This version might make those people change their mind, or at the very least, see why Elvis has so many fans in the first place.
Instead of the insane fan interviews, there's plenty of rehearsal footage. Most of it is new, and amazing. It also reminded me strongly of the section of the 68 comeback special (and also "One Night With You") where Elvis jammed with his old band, just having fun. Again, I'm kind of fuzzy on the exact songs and the order they're in, ("Little Sister" was probably the best) but most of it is not in the 1970 version, including him talking to the Sweet Inspirations and joking with the band. The concert footage is amazing. Even though it's spliced together using the best of 6 different shows (not that I would have minded sitting through all of them) the performance is so energetic and intense that I can't believe that Elvis did his act twice a night, 7 days a week. Biographers say that Elvis actually requested not to have a day off because he was having so much fun when he first started playing Vegas, and it's obvious from watching this footage that he was having the time of his life. Most of the patter between songs is different, and so are some of his interactions with the audience. There's an extended version of "Suspicious Minds" that's even more impressive than the other one, using alternate takes (they leave out "I hope this suit don't tear up baby", and put in more of the type of dancing that, how do I put this politely, got him banned from the waist down in the 50's ). Just a complete show-stopper. You have to see it to believe it. And if you already thought Elvis was hot, you might want to have that bucket of cold water handy to pour over your head before you sit down to watch this.
Some of the extras include an extremely entertaining trailer that makes you want to watch the movie again immediately, and a pretty interesting "making of" documentary. Obviously, a lot of care and time was taken to produce this new version; this is not something they just slapped together at the last minute just to cash in on the popularity of special edition DVDs. Elvis fans, you have got to own this-or at least see it ASAP, at which point you'll want to buy a copy. I still haven't picked my jaw up off the floor. At some points when you're watching the movie, it's hard to believe he's gone. But it's not hard to believe he would have been very proud of this edition.
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