Elvis Aaron Presley would’ve been 75 this year, and Warner Brothers has brought all of their Elvis films together in this box set. Still, buyers should beware of some quality control issues.
Elvis was a phenomenon that possibly started maniacal hero worship or at least brought it to the forefront of the nation (I’d wager Valentino and Chaplin helped out).
He sang hit songs, made hit movies, and wowed the crowds at live sold-out concerts. Unfortunately the rigors, wealth, and excess of such fame turned out to be the death of him and the end was not pretty.
His film output would not win any awards (well, one since Elvis on Tour won a Golden Globe) but his fandom would eat them up and make them hits and make bundles of cash for Elvis and his handlers. I always love an instant collection and this one does come in a nice looking box with some swag. However, they don’t deliver what was promised.
They say that Jailhouse Rock (1957) is the newer special edition that has a commentary, featurette, etc. Unfortunately, what has been included is the older disc that only includes the 2 minute trailer so you don’t get what they’re telling you you’ll get. I think the newer disc has also been remastered so you’re also getting a poorer print as well. I don’t know if this was just my set or a more widespread problem.
This quality control issue is a bit much considering the change that Elvis merchandizing has put in studio’s pockets. The other omission might be more deliberate in that the documentary film This is Elvis (1981) was released on DVD in two cuts – the original theatrical cut and an extended version that added 40 minutes of extra footage.
That extended cut is not included and you just get the theatrical version, even though there is space enough for that second disc as it would resemble the setup in the first box of the set.
The completionist in me cried foul, but since the documentary struck me as a bit garish and ham-fisted with its reenactments I was tempered a little. Elvis on Tour (1972) does feature a widescreen presentation that preserves its multi-screen concert footage (available separately if you have all of the movies and just need this one).
The remainder of the films include It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963), Kissin’ Cousins (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Girl Happy (1964), Tickle Me (1965), Harum Scarum (1965), Spinout (1966), Double Trouble (1967), Stay Away Joe (1967), Speedway (1968), Live a Little, Love a Little (1968), Charro! (1968), the Trouble with Girls (1969), and Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970).
Harum Scarum and This is Elvis is presented in widescreen (1.85:1) and are enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The rest of the films are presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and are enhanced for 16x9 televisions.
Special features are familiar and a bit repetitive if you’re an Elvis fan. I’ve mentioned the Jailhouse Rock problem, but Viva Las Vegas does deliver the goods as promised as it is the newer special edition and includes a commentary by author Steve Pond, the 20 minute “Kingdom: Elvis in Vegas,” and the 3 minute trailer. Kissin’ Cousins, Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Stay Away Joe, Live a Little, Love a Little, and Charro(!) all feature their trailers (all 2 minutes except 1 minute for Charro).
It Happened at the World’s Fair and Harum Scarum feature the same 13 minute Elvis trailer gallery. Spinout, Double Trouble, Speedway, and the Trouble with Girls all feature the same 10 minute trailer gallery. So you get multiples of many trailers.
That’s the Way It Is has text bios, behind the scenes, and on Elvis’ films. You also get the 9 minute “Patch it Up” on the reconstruction and the 2 minute trailer. This is Elvis has the vintage 9 minute “Behind the Gates of Graceland” and the trailers for This is Elvis and That’s the Way It Is (both 2 minutes each).
Elvis on Tour has nothing but the film. It all comes housed in a nice box set that includes reproductions of Elvis’ checks and a commemorative book.
Elvis film output was very similar (famously aped in the Elvis on Tour clip montage), but it is breezy fun and was nirvana to his fans. It may look quaint to our modern eyes, but it still has a simpler times appeal.
If you’re a fan you probably have all of these films already, but others may want to get this instant dose of the King.
Unfortunately, the Jailhouse Rock screw-up left a bad taste (no word on how widespread it is or if a replacement program will ramp up), but the King’s charming onscreen presence help to alleviate it… somewhat.
Visit the DVD database for more information. Elvis on Tour – Remastered & Restored, plus several other Elvis film favorites including Viva Las Vegas and Jailhouse Rock are now available for the first time On Demand and for download via iTunes.