Aired Feb 11, 1979. Kurt Russell and Season Hubley married in real life on March 17, 1979 See more »
In the movie during Elvis' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show the producers and director say a few times to shoot Elvis "above the waist". In reality it was actually the 3rd time Presley was on the show, NOT the first time. See more »
This landmark made for television biography came at a time when the death of the beloved entertainer and pop culture icon was still fresh in peoples' minds. It's written & produced by Anthony Lawrence, who'd written or co-written such Presley film vehicles as "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" and "Easy Come, Easy Go", executive produced by Dick Clark, and directed by John Carpenter, who'd recently established himself as a hot property with his hit horror film "Halloween". It's all done with the utmost respect for Elvis, and touches upon various key moments in his life, starting with his childhood when he found his own way to deal with the death of his twin brother. We learn what makes Elvis tick, and what motivates him. He wanted nothing more than to entertain people, and hopefully provide a better quality of life for the parents, Gladys and Vernon (played by Shelley Winters and Bing Russell, star Kurt Russell's own dad) who were always loving and supportive. Framed by the depiction of Elvis's big comeback performance at the International Hotel, it shows him meeting all of the important players in his life - Sam Phillips (Charles Cyphers), Colonel Tom Parker (Pat Hingle), and Priscilla Beaulieu (Season Hubley, to whom Russell was subsequently and briefly married). Russell is just tremendous as Elvis, completely immersing himself in the role and managing to make us forget that we're watching a performance. Of course, it's worth noting that Russell, as a child, had acted with The King in "It Happened at the World's Fair" and would return to the role - sort of - in 2001's "3000 Miles to Graceland". One of the highest rated television movies in history, it earned three Emmy nominations, including best television movie and best actor for Russell. This is a true warts and all affair, showing the darker aspects to Elvis's personality, and as such is riveting. It's a long but engrossing story, and was also historic for first teaming Carpenter and Russell; they would work four more times together over the years, on "Escape from New York", "The Thing", "Big Trouble in Little China", and "Escape from L.A." It also firmly established Russell as a mature actor of note after his time spent as a youthful star of formulaic Disney comedies. Everything is buoyed by genuine poignancy and, of course, a generous serving of classic Elvis songs. Well worth watching overall. Eight out of 10.
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