DVD Review : Elvis The Hollywood Collection
There is nothing like an Elvis movie to make viewers nostalgic. You may not have lived it, but with Elvis as the star, you certainly feel a part of the action. Anyone up for 'doing the clam?'
Charro! - Most Elvis Presley movies fit neatly inside a whirlwind formula of girls, songs and who-do-you-love complications. Like its loner title character, the gritty western CHARRO! is different. The Elvis on screen here isn't the clean cut all American kid ready to hit the beach or dance floor. Instead, a barbed stubble covers his face. His hat hangs low over his eyes. And a bandanna hides the ugly scar that marks him as a killer. Written and directed by Charles Marquis Warren (creator of TV's Gunsmoke, Rawhide and The Virginian) this stark sagebrush saga follows an ex-outlaw trying to go straight. First-time widescreen video release.
Girl Happy - Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale. It's the perfect time and place for a girl, a guy a beach blanket and for a box-office bonanza when Elvis Presley goes Girl Happy. He portrays club singer Rusty Wells, who, when not wowing the crowds has the added task of making sure the daughter of his boss (Harold J. Stone) doesn't fall for any revved-up bikini chasers while on vacation. Shelley Fabares, Presley's favorite leading lady plays the daughter.
Special Features: New Digital Transfer of Complete Original Theatrical Version with Startin' Tonight Song Sequence Now Back in the Film.
Kissin' Cousins - Elvis takes on Elvis! Seeing double? You will be when Elvis Presley takes on two roles in the backwoods romp Kissin' Cousins. In his 15th film, the King plays dark-haired Air Force Lt. Josh Morgan and blonde good ol' boy Jodie Tatum.
Includes New Digital Transfer of Complete Original Theatrical Version with Smokey Mountain Boy Song Sequence Now Back in the Film'.
Live a Little, Love a Little - In demand photographer works 9am to 5pm and 9am to 5pm. You read that right. Greg holds two simultaneous jobs: one for the publisher (Don Porter) of a girlie magazine another for an adman (Rudy Vallee). In his 28th film, Elvis takes a chance with his public image by doing more 'adult' comedy.
Stay Away Joe - Just when Navajo rodeo star Joe Lightcloud has it all figured out, his plans go up in smoke. His idea about raising cattle on the reservation is a good one. But you know that great chow Joe and everyone else enjoyed at the barbecue? Turns out somebody's barbecued the herd's only bull!
Tickle Me - New man in Zuni Wells. Handome. Knows horses. Looking for part-time work until rodeo season opens. But when the ranch job Lonnie Beale snaps up turns out to be a stint at a dude ranch/spa for actresses and models, we are all in for full-time fun! First time widescreen video release.
In this Elvis - The Hollywood Collection are six different films, each restored to theatrical length, with bonus feature of trailers. In addition each film has inserts of four card sized black and white stills and a card sized color movie poster.
This DVD set is the NTSC picture format which is the standard format for the USA, Canada and Japan. If you are from Australia or Europe you need to have a TV capable of playing NTSC.
PAL is the standard format for Australia, although most new TV can play both PAL and NTSC. You can read more about PAL and NTSC here.
Review : Elvis The Hollywood Collection #2
By Dave Lifton -
As Elvis Presley's popularity declined in the mid-1960s, so did the quality of his films. What began as a promising career eventually devolved into a seemingly endless series of embarrassing movies. The main problem was that, rather than find good projects suited to his client's talents, Col. Tom Parker routinely slashed the budgets to maximize his own profits. Also, since all the songs had to go through Elvis' publishing company, they were no longer written by solid hitmakers, but by hacks willing to give up their rights for the exposure.
To coincide with the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death, Warner Brothers has taken six Elvis movies, of varying degrees of quality, from this period and put them in a DVD box set called The Hollywood Collection, Vol. 1. Each DVD is presented, for the first time, in widescreen format with the theatrical trailer, and comes with five photo cards.
Nearly all Elvis movies feature cheesy dialogue, a handful of songs, and lots of beautiful girls, so, using those criteria, here is a chronological guide to the six movies in the set:
Kissin' Cousins (1964)
Plot: The Army wants to build a missile base on top of a Tennessee mountain, but the family that owns the land doesn't want to sell. It's up to Lt. Josh Morgan (Elvis) to convince his distant cousin, Jodie Tatum (also Elvis, in a blond wig) to make the deal.
Quality of songs: Weak, including some Hollywood takes on Appalachian bluegrass. The songs are as interesting as their titles - 'Barefoot Ballad', 'Smokey Mountain Boy', and 'Catchin' On Fast' - suggest.
Quality of women: Pretty good. Yvonne 'Batgirl' Craig, making her second appearance in an Elvis film, is cute as Josh's love interest, Azalea Tatum. Cynthia Pepper is a WAC who eventually falls for Jodie. There's also a nearby gang of hillbilly hotties, the Kittyhawks, led by, of all people, Maureen Reagan.
Sample dialogue: 'The catfish eyes bring out the flavor in the possum tails'.
Memphis Mafia cameo: Joe Esposito is Mike.
Overall: An example of the lazy, lighthearted comedic fare foisted on us by the Colonel, with lots of stereotypes about mountain folk. Elvis does his best to overcome the material, but it's not one of the better pre-Viva Las Vegas movies.
Girl Happy (1965)
Plot: Singer Rusty Wells (Elvis) and his band are hired by a Chicago gangster to look after his daughter (Shelley Fabares) in Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break, but spend most of their time chasing co-eds.
Quality of songs: The title track and 'Do The Clam' are B-list Elvis classics. The others are mostly fun, silly numbers, with 'Puppet On A String' as the ballad.
Quality of women: Very high. Shelley Fabares, in her first of three Elvis movies, and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley lead a bikini-clad cast.
Sample dialogue: 'I've given up the mental types. This is the type for me. Not much upstairs, but what a staircase!'
Overall: Some good tunes, light comedy, and a beautiful cast. What more could you ask for from a beach movie?
Tickle Me (1965)
Plot: Lonnie Beale (Elvis) is a singing rodeo star working at a spa that caters to models and actresses. They chase him, but he has his eyes on the aerobics instructor. That's all you need to know.
Quality of songs: Despite songs by names like Otis Blackwell, Pomus-Shuman, and Leiber-Stoller, nothing is particularly memorable.
Quality of women: No big name actresses, but there is still plenty of eye candy among the patrons of the spa.
Sample dialogue: 'You know how it is when a pack of women get together- They begin clawing and scratching like wildcats. Try to keep everybody happy, won't you?'
Memphis Mafia cameos: Red West is an extra in a bar.
Overall: It's not a mess like, say, Harum Scarum (the next film he would make), but you could still see that, by this point, they had lost the plot. And I still can't figure out how the title relates to the story.
Stay Away, Joe (1968)
Plot: Native American Joe Lightcloud (Elvis) returns to the Arizona reservation to help it prosper through a cattle-raising deal with a Congressman. There's lots of drinking and fighting. I couldn't figure out much more than that.
Quality of songs: There aren't too many songs, but one is about a bull. The soundtrack wasn't even released, so if even the Colonel didn't want to put this out, that should tell you something. Did I mention there's a song about a bull?
Quality of women: Like the rest of the movie, Quentin Dean as Mamie Callahan is hardly up to Elvis' usual standards. Some cute extras, though.
Sample dialogue: 'Why don't you find out while I rescue a certain white man from being scalped by wild Indians. Female Indians'.
Memphis Mafia cameos: Sonny West as Jackson He-Crow, Joe Esposito appears as a workman.
Overall: After some lovely opening shots of Sedona, Arizona, it's an incomprehensible pile of stink, and its portrayal of Native Americans is practically indefensible by today's more enlightened standards.
Live A Little, Love A Little (1968)
Plot: Photographer Greg Nolan (Elvis) encounters a flighty woman (Michele Carey) who causes him to lose his job and his apartment, and he is forced move in with her. He works two jobs simultaneously, at a nudie magazine and an ad agency, to get her out of his life.
Quality of songs: 'A Little Less Conversation', which became a worldwide #1 hit in a 2002 remix version, is sung during the party. 'Edge Of Reality' offers some late-'60s psychedelic pop, a new direction for Elvis, but without the drugs.
Quality of women: Carey is the requisite beauty, but the others are inconsistent.
Sample dialogue: 'You don't taste bad for a Sagittarius'.
Overall: An attempt at a manic sex farce, but without the sex. As a result, it doesn't quite work, but it also isn't horrendous.
Plot: An historic Mexican cannon is stolen by an outlaw gang and they have falsely accused Jess Wade (Elvis, with a beard!) as the thief. Elvis tries to clear his name and win back the love of the woman he left behind.
Quality of songs: Apart from the title song that plays over the opening credits, Elvis doesn't sing. Instead, there is a decent sub-Morricone score by Hugo Montenegro.
Quality of women: Ina Balin is rather unappealing as Elvis' love interest, and gets upstaged by one of the dancing girls.
Sample dialogue: 'You are, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman I was ever not allowed to look at'.
Memphis Mafia cameos: Charlie Hodge is uncredited as a Mexican peon.
Overall: Filmed shortly after the '68 Comeback Special, it's a surprisingly average Western. It's slow in spots, and occasionally overacted, but it conforms to the expectations of the genre, and Elvis is engaged throughout.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.