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This Is Elvis (Two-Disc Special Edition)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This Is Elvis: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)


Originally released in 1981, Andrew Solt and Malcolm Leo's This Is Elvis was one of the first in-depth examinations of the life and work of Elvis Presley. Issued here in a two-disc set that pairs the theatrical version with a 1983 re-edit that adds some 40 minutes to the original, it combines newsreel footage, home movies, television and movie clips, and extensive re-enactments in an absorbing bio-documentary that's well worth watching--if only because interest in the singer apparently never diminishes (the 2007 DVD release date coincides with the 30th anniversary of Presley's death). The success (or failure, depending on one's point of view) of This Is Elvis rides in part on a single decision made by Solt and Leo, who co-produced, directed, and wrote the film: namely, to have the tale told by Presley himself. Not the real Presley, of course; Ral Donner, himself a rock singer of minor repute in the '50s and '60s, provides a reasonably authentic impersonation of Presley's voice (four on-screen actors portray him at various ages in the course of the film). Thus we have an "Elvis" who returns from beyond the grave to hold forth on such matters as the death of his beloved mother, his stint in the Army, his marriage to Priscilla and the birth of Lisa Marie, the skein of awful movies that preoccupied him during the '60s (thus sidelining him from the pop music scene while the Beatles and Bob Dylan were changing the world), and his descent into the maudlin, hyper-medicated fashion disaster that was Elvis in the '70s (his assessment: basically, "Geez, I wish I'd seen that coming"). It's nice to think that the actual Elvis could be so candid about both his successes and his missteps, but by and large this material is unconvincing, at best. Still, the real footage mostly makes up for it. Clips from his earliest TV appearances, even embarrassments like the Steve Allen show (on which the smug host had Presley wear formal attire and sing "Hound Dog" to an actual pooch), leave little doubt as to why he was the King; Presley's electrifying presence, not to mention his voice, great backup band, and seminal rock songs, were like nothing before or since. Had Solt and Leo dispensed with all the fakery and concentrated on the genuine article, their film would have been better for it. Sure, the final scenes of the fat, drugged-out Elvis onstage in his final months are brutal (a performance of "Loving You" featured in the longer edit is truly cringe-inducing), but they're part and parcel of the most fascinating and enduring story in American music history. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ral Donner, David Scott, Joe Esposito, Paul Boensch, Johnny Harra
  • Directors: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt
  • Writers: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt
  • Producers: Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt, David L. Wolper
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Restored, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007
  • Run Time: 246 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QUUD5Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,957 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "This Is Elvis (Two-Disc Special Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Dean Wisland on May 21, 2007
Format: DVD
This is Elvis is a Documentary that traces the life of Elvis from his early days in Tupelo and Memphis, his audition for Sam Phillips at Sun records, his first rush of fame, his early TV apperances, the contraversy over his performing style, his army years and his first meeting with Pricilla, his movie years, his 1968 comeback, his touring years in the 1970, up to his death in 1977. This is elvis combines actual footage of Elvis with reenactments with actors representating him at 11, 23, and 42 years old. It is narrated by Ral Donner, an Elvis impersonator who sounds excatly like him. Also other people in Elvis life, including former girlfreind Linda Tompson and road manager Joe Espisito, also provide narration.
As noted in previous reviews, you do get to see upstairs at Graceland, as well as how it looked when Elvis died. Scenes from his early TV apperances, including the Milton Berle performance that caused a scandal as well as the "above the waist" performance on Ed Sullivan. Concert scenes from his 1968 show, Thats the way it is, Aloha from Hawaii, and from his last filmed show in 1977, are here as well. The 1977 show has never been on DVD, manily because Elvis was in bad health and it was just seven weeks before his death. Still he sings a good verison of My Way.
This DVD set will include the original Theactral version from 1981, and the version that has been on VHS that had more footage. As noted in a review, Elvis does make some off color remark to his friends about a woman he had been with the night before, in the home verison, Ral Donner overdubed something less off color. Also the theatracial verson, in the 1977 concert, had the version of Are You Lonesome Tonight, where Elvis fouls up the spoken part of the song saying plus tax etc. In the home version, it is replaced with Love Me.
Thanks to The Elvis Presley Estate for finally releasing this on DVD. It is a must for all Elvis fans, young and old.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Bryan on August 9, 2007
Format: DVD
A must own DVD for every Elvis fan. I'm glad to see both versions are included. I first saw this on HBO in the early 80's when I was a kid and remembered almost all of it. I was surprised to find, years later, that they changed it for the VHS version.

The most notable changes between the 2 versions are: In the newer version there is, obviously, a lot more performance footage. But there is also a censored remark that Elvis made about a groupie during the 'Promised Land' montage. His voice is overdubbed by a guy that sounds like him saying 'she could raise the dead'. You can see the difference by playing the 80's version after watching the newer version. Also, the ending is different. In the older version, Elvis sings 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' and 'My Way' on the newer version they take out 'Lonesome' and replace it with 'Love Me' in which you get to see him do his whole scarf thing that he passes out to the screaming women in the audience. The change defeats the whole purpose of the thing - which is to watch it and feel sad at how much he's messing up "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" on stage(it is mentioned that the show was performed 6 weeks before he died). But the man can still sing, even during his weakened state. Strange how they edited his comment on stage: When he said "If you think I'm nervous... your right", on one version they cut to the crowd cheering and clapping yet on the other version, they show a quiet bewiledered audience. The kind where you would hear crickets chirping. That just doesn't make sense and it seeems like the editors wanted to make Elvis look even worse with the quiet audience.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Joe O'Brien on August 17, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I first saw "This is Elvis" in the theatre when it first came out in the late summer of 1981.I decided to go see it after reading a several page layout about it in Rolling Stone and after watching "Siskel&Ebert" give the movie a good review on their show(back when they were on PBS).Gene Siskel said that even people who weren't fans of Elvis Presley may enjoy the movie. I've been a fan of Elvis for well over 20 years.Have more than 40 of his albums(on vinyl, not the CDs)some have even become collector items since then.I must say that I enjoyed this biography very much.Even went back to see again a couple of months later with some other family members.This was the first bio that was given the blessing of the Elvis Presley estate and certain members of the so called "Memphis Mafia" and Colonel Tom Parker were technical consultants on the picture.This was the first time anyone was permitted to film inside Graceland.This was a few years before it became open to the public.The film was produced by David L.Wolper(who produced the mini series "Roots") and directed by Andrew Solt and Malcolm Leo(who made documentaries on Marilyn Monroe,The Beach Boys, the very good theatrical bio "Imagine-John Lennon" from 1988,and "The Best of Ed Sullivan" specials for network television).The producers were allowed to use actual home movies and never before seen footage.

The highlights:Elvis' first TV appearances in 1956,scenes from his most popular movies,"Love Me Tender","Loving You" and "Jailhouse Rock", his first TV appearance after being discharged from the U.S.Army in 1960 on a Frank Sinatra special and newsreel footage from news conferences in 1960 and 1972.And,the home video version includes 45 min. of footage not seen in the theatre version.
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Vernon Presley
The version you're looking for is on the movie, "This Is Elvis" and it's also on "Elvis In Concert", which was shown on October 3, 1977 (which can't be found and won't be released by EPE due to the state of Elvis's heath at the time).
Jul 27, 2010 by Tony Lee Trout |  See all 2 posts
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