Elvis 75th Anniversary DVD Collection
This box set caters to fans of The King, Elvis Aaron Presley, with 17 fiction films and documentaries headlined by Elvis between 1957-1981. It includes Jailhouse Rock (1957), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Tickle Me (1965), Harum Scarum (1965), the posthumous semi-documentary This is Elvis (1981), and more. Bonus supplements include commentaries and featurettes, 10 reproduction memorabilia pieces, a 36-page concert program reproduction, and more.This western saga finds Jess Wade (Elvis Presley) as a reformed gunfighter who is stalked and captured by his former band of outlaws. Vince (Victor French) is the heavy who orders Jess' cheek to be branded with a hot iron. The gang terrorizes a small town by threatening to use a gold-plated and jewel-encrusted Mexican cannon on the innocent population. Presley sings only one song (the title track) in the last dramatic role of his career. The feature has the look and feel of the popular spaghetti westerns of the time. This routine western would be followed by the truly gaugeable The Trouble With Girls and Change Of Habit. Presley revived his live performing career soon after the forgettable last two films and continued touring until his death on August 16th, 1977.This documentary offers a look at Elvis Presley on and off-stage as he embarks upon a cross-country concert tour in the early '70s.Elvis: That's the Way It Is offers a candid look at Elvis Presley at a point when he decided to permanently abandon movie roles and return triumphantly to concert gigs. It shows him strutting around Vegas with his entourage, Elvis painstakingly preparing for his stage show, Elvis relaxing backstage and trading jokes with his vocal accompanists, and, of course, Elvis before a live, loud audience. Photographed by Lucien Ballard the film was directed by Denis Sanders of Shock Treatment fame. This film was hugely reedited and reissued in 2001, with around 40% new material that replaced preexistent fan footage with musical performances and revelations; it also works in a a version of 'Love Me Tender' that finds The King strutting through the audience. That cut of the film - which received heightened critical kudos - rates 4 stars, and qualifies as more of a performance film than a documentary.One of Elvis Presley's most popular vehicles, Girl Happy is also one of the most typical. Elvis plays Rusty Wells, the leader of a four-piece rock group, consisting of Gary Crosby, Joby Baker and Jimmy Hawkins. Hired by Chicago gangster boss Big Frank (Harold J. Stone) to protect the virtue of Frank's cute daughter Valerie (Shelley Fabares), Rusty and his buddies follow Valerie to Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break. The girl falls in love with Rusty, then falls out of love when she learns that he's in her dad's employ. Valerie then becomes involved with a slick Italian playboy (Fabrizio Mioni), forcing Rusty to break up the romance lest he end up in a cement overcoat. It all ends happily, of course: after all, Elvis hadn't died on screen since Flaming Star. A bikini-watcher's dream, Girl Happy is less successful as a musical; of the many songs, the title number is the only one with lasting value.Elvis Presley plays singer/actor Johnny Tyronne in this formulated quickie directed by Gene Nelson. While on a promotional tour of Pakistan, Johnny is drugged, kidnapped, and whisked away to a mythical Middle East country. Jay Novello plays the scheming Zacha who vows (for a price) to help Johnny in a world that is 2,000 years behind the times and sealed off from the outside world. With the help of Baba (Billy Barty), they hope to get Johnny back to the comforts of the modern world. Elvis shows off some neat karate moves, but he looks bored and resigned to the fact no one in Hollywood (or Colonel Tom Parker) will give him a serious screen role. Filmed on sets that were originally used for Kismet (1944) and Cecile B. DeMille's silent classic The Ten Commandments. As for the songs, only "Mirage" and "Hey Little Girl" are memorable. The generous Presley, perhaps feeling nostalgic, donated $50,000 to the motion picture relief fund after completing the film. On hand at the celebrity press conference were such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Bud Abbott, and silent-screen veteran Chester Conklin.One of the best of Elvis Presley's pre-Army films, Jailhouse Rock offers us the sensual, "dangerous" Elvis that had won the hearts of the kids and earned the animosity of their elders. Presley plays a young buck who accidentally kills a man while protecting the honor of a woman. Thrown into prison, Elvis strikes up a friendship with visionary fellow-con Mickey Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy suggests that Elvis perform in the upcoming prison show. Ol' swivel-hips scores a hit, and decides to stay in showbiz after his release. Together with pretty Judy Tyler (the former Princess Summerfall Winterspring on Howdy Doody, who would die in a horrible traffic accident shortly after completing this film), Elvis sets up his own record company. Alas, success goes to his head, and soon Elvis plans to ditch Tyler in favor of signing with a big-time label. Shaughnessy shows up long enough to punch out Elvis for his disloyalty; as a result, Elvis' vocal chords are damaged and he is unable to sing. Deserted by his flunkeys and hangers-on, Elvis learns the value of friendship and fidelity when Tyler and Shaughnessy stay by his side in his darkest hours. His voice restored, Elvis climbs back up the charts--but this time, he's a much nicer fellow, and a lot more committed to Tyler. Usually the musical numbers in a Presley picture (this one has a doozy, complete with chorus boys dressed as convicts!) are more compelling than the plot. Jailhouse Rock is a perfect balance of song and story from beginning to end; seldom would Elvis be so well showcased in the future.Elvis Presley plays a double role in Kissin' Cousins. When the U.S. government wants land owned by the hillbilly clan headed by Pappy Tatum (Arthur O'Connell), they send Air Force Lieutenant Josh Morgan (Presley), a cousin of the Tatum's, to try and secure the land for a proposed missile base. Josh comes face-to-face with Jody Tatum, his blonde-haired look-alike. Glenda Farrell plays Ma Tatum, and distaff interest for Elvis is provided by Cynthia Pepper, Yvonne Craig, a busty Beverly Powers, and Hortense Petra. Watch for Maureen Reagan as one of the Kittyhawks, a group of desperate, man-hungry females out to get some love. This film was the first of the low-budget movies that would unfortunately plague the rest of Elvis' movie career. The song selection also reflects a decline in the quality of both recording and acting parts offered to Presley. Once he fulfilled his contractual obligations for the forgettable features, Elvis ended his film career and devoted his efforts exclusively to live shows and recording.Singing stars from two very different generations appear in Live A Little, Love A Little. Elvis Presley plays Greg, a photographer who divides his time working for a skin magazine and a conservative newspaper. Rudy Valle plays Penlow, the veteran newspaper publisher. Lansdown (Don Porter) is the publisher of a girly magazine as Greg tries to work for both without the other finding out. Greg falls in love with a fashion model (Michele Carey) in this situation comedy that even die-hard Elvis fans have a hard time swallowing. By this time, Elvis planned to fulfil his remaining movie obligations and return to the stage, as his 1960s film career had failed to take on the dramatic seriousness he desperately sought.Steve Grayson (Elvis Presley) is a swinging racecar driver whose manager Kenny (Bill Bixby) has bet his money on the horses. Most of the horses didn't win, causing Steve to be visited by IRS agent Susan Jacks (Nancy Sinatra). Gale Gordon plays Hepworth, her stuffy supervisor, and William Shallert has the role of Abel Esterlake, former racecar driver who helps Steve on the track. Steve engages in the stock-car races at the Charlotte Speedway to get back the money to keep him and his manager out of jail. Presley delivers 11 songs, the most notable being "Let Yourself Go." Elvis by now was just playing out the innocuous string of movies that his musically insensitive, cigar-chomping manager Colonel Tom Parker had contracted for him. Soon Elvis would undertake the most successful live comeback by any performer in history and leave these trashy features behind.Elvis Presley plays rock singer and racecar driver Mike McCoy in the typical musical romp Spinout, directed by Norman Taurog. His band includes Curly Jack Mullaney, Larry Jimmy Hawkins and the female tomboy drummer Les Deborah Walley. Mike is coveted by a bevy of beauties that include the intellectual journalist Diana St. Clair Diane McBain, Susan Dodie Marshall and the spoiled rich girl Cynthia Foxhugh Shelley Fabares. Cynthia's millionaire father Howard Carl Betz wants Mike to race his newly built auto. All the girls want Mike, but he manages to marry them off to different paramours and in the end falls for his replacement drummer Susan. The 12-song album of the same title contained a musical curiosity, Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time." It was the only Dylan song ever recorded by Presley -- and the longest, at over five minutes in length.This forgettable comedy finds Joe Lightcloud (Elvis Presley) as a mixed-blood Indian with strong ties to his tribe and his father Charlie (Burgess Meredith). Joe tries to get government assistance for the tribe in exchange for permitting the local congressman to graze cattle on Indian land. Maime (Quentin Dean) is the object of Joe's affection, but they are under the watchful eye of her mother Glenda (Joan Blondell), who owns the local saloon. The Jordanaires back up Elvis on a few songs, most notable being "U.S. Male" by guitar-great Jerry Reed. By this time, Elvis was extremely tired of churning out movies with such dismal scripts. Later in 1968, he would make a triumphant return to live performing with his NBC television special which featured Jerry Reed's "Guitar Man." Elvis was playing out the string of films set up by his controversial manager Colonel Tom Parker, who never wanted Elvis to be considered as a serious dramatic actor. Parker even went so far as to take Elia Kazan to task for even mentioning such an idea. It was such thinking that prompted the King Of Rock & Roll to return to the stage once again after an eight-year hiatus.This Is Elvis wants to have it both ways. At times, the film is a warm, loving tribute to The King. At other times, it merely exploits a dead man's reputation for the purposes of a fast buck. The documentary footage of Elvis in concert, overfamiliar though it may be, is excellent and well-selected. The dramatized portions of the film, featuring a quartet of Presley imitators portraying Elvis at different junctures of his life, range from passable to mediocre. For the record, and not in the order in which they appear, Paul Boensch III is Elvis at 10, David Scott is Elvis at 18, Dana MacKay is Elvis at 35 and an appropriately corpulent Johnny Harra is Elvis at 42. In addition, a fifth actor, Ral Donner, is heard as Elvis, narrating the whole affair.The original king of rock-n-roll (Elvis Presley) stars in this light comedy musical as a singing buck who finds employment at an all femme ranch & spa. After kissing the girls and making them cry, the stud-clad crooner is sent away, but soon comes back to rescue a pretty maiden from the hands of fortune-seeking baddies.Walter Hale (Elvis Presley) is the manager of a chautauqua, a traveling show consisting of performances, lectures and entertainment. Along with manager Johnny (Edward Andrews), he helps some young kids break into show business and contends with the union-organizing Charlene (Marilyn Mason). Vincent Price appears as Mr. Morality. John Carradine, Sheree North and Dabney Coleman also appear in this forgettable film which makes Clambake and Girl Happy classics by comparison. Elvis is limited to three tunes as he plays out the string of poorly scripted vehicles that ended with his next feature, the equally awful Change of Habit. By now, the inane screenplays had done permanent damage to a once-promising film career, souring the King of Rock & Roll on everything in movies except live concert performances.Viva Las Vegas, one of Elvis Presley's most popular vehicles, adheres as rigidly to formula as a Kabuki dance. Elvis plays a race-car driver competing in the Las Vegas Grand Prix opposite his principal rival, Cesare Danova. To finance his entry, Elvis takes a job as a casino waiter. Naturally, he is occasionally prevailed upon to sing, making one wonder why he didn't choose this talent as a means of making some quick cash. As always, Elvis chases all the wrong girls, only to ignore the "right" one, portrayed by Ann-Margret in her considerable youthful prime (We're supposed to believe that A-M is the daughter of irascible William Demarest. So much for the reliability of gene pools). With a pre-fat Presley, an indescribably gorgeous Ann-Margret, and no fewer than 12 songs on the soundtrack, how could Viva Las Vegas help but reap a fortune at the box office?This Elvis Presley vehicle is close to a lemon, even for his die-hard fans. Elvis is Mike Edwards, a pilot of a small plane who has a faithful sidekick, Danny (Gary Lockewood), and a penchant for singing. The story, such as it is, takes place in-between a total of ten different songs, the most memorable being "One Broken Heart for Sale." Mike is tough on the outside but he is willing to take up a good cause when he finds Sue Lin (Vicky Tiu) temporarily abandoned at the Seattle Worlds Fair. Aside from Sue Lin, he also finds an attractive nurse who is not abandoned but might still need attention.Elvis Presley plays Guy Lambert, a musician (so far, so good) who is touring Great Britain (something Elvis never managed in real life). Jill Conway (Annette Day), a wealthy heiress, is a big fan of Guy's who has developed a very serious crush on him; her family wants to keep her away from the romantically-inclined singer, so they send her to Belgium, not realizing that Guy has a string of gigs set up there. En route to Brussels, a pair of hapless jewel thieves (Norman Rossington and Chips Rafferty) hide their loot in Guy's luggage, which makes the singer the unwitting target of three equally inept detectives (Harry, Herbert, and Sylvester Wiere). While wooing Jill and avoiding her treacherous uncle Gerald (John Williams), Guy also finds himself pursued by the worldly Claire Dunham (Yvonne Romain). Elvis sings nine songs along the way, including "Long Legged Girls with Short Dresses On" and "Baby, if You Give Me All Your Love." 18 months after Double Trouble was released, Presley's career was revitalized by his 1968 comeback special, though he would also release four more films before it aired.