Review: ‘This Is Elvis’

A real curiosity item, This Is Elvis is a fast-paced gloss on Presley's life and career packed with enough fine music and unusual footage to satisfy anyone with an Interest in the late singing idol. An imaginative combination of docu-footage, home movies and docu-drama recreations of more private moments has been bolstered with a double album's worth of top tunes to good effect.

A real curiosity item, This Is Elvis is a fast-paced gloss on Presley’s life and career packed with enough fine music and unusual footage to satisfy anyone with an Interest in the late singing idol. An imaginative combination of docu-footage, home movies and docu-drama recreations of more private moments has been bolstered with a double album’s worth of top tunes to good effect.

Pic opens with day of Presley’s death at 42 and subsequent funeral mob scene, and is thereafter narrated by uncanny Elvis sound-alike Ral Donner in fashion of William Holden telling tale of Sunset Boulevard, even though character is dead.

Much of the docu-material has been kept under wraps by Col Tom Parker for years only to be released here through his participation as technical adviser.

Included are glimpses of the 1950s sensation in his earliest television appearance, some previously unseen press conference footage, harsh, often racist, anti-rock ‘n’ roll diatribes by bluenoses of the period, the celebrated Ed Sullivan performance, extensive coverage of his army indoctrination and stint in Germany, comeback appearance with Frank Sinatra, clips of a few feature films and a look at his smash 1968 TV special.

Elvis’ bloated condition by 1977 is genuinely shocking, effect being akin to seeing Robert De Niro in middle-age in Raging Bull. Narration has Elvis from above intoning, ‘If only I coulda seen what was happening to me, I mighta done something about it.’

This Is Elvis

Production

Warner. Director Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt; Producer Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt; Screenplay Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt; Camera Gil Hubbs; Editor Bud Friedgen, Glenn Farr; Music Walter Scharf; Art Director Charles Hughes

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Johnny Harra David Scott Paul Boensch III Lawrence Koller Rhonda Lyn
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