Review : Elvis : Behind The Image DVD

By: Elvis Australia
March 12, 2016


Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 1 DVD

The legendary DVD 'Elvis Behind The Image Vol. 1' heralded a completely new era of Elvis documentaries and entails a series of first class issues, which not only revitalized the 8mm-genre, but revolutionized it. The historic material has been digitalized directly from the 8mm-reel by a new developed and highly sensitive laser scanning technique. By using this equipment it was possible to bring the previously unreleased 8mm movies on DVD in a never before known quality.

You know the legend...
... now meet the man

As the first product of the 'Behind The Image' series, 'Elvis Behind The Image Vol.1' was not conceived and compiled by 'Praytome Publishing', but by the successful film company 'Spotlight Films' in Hollywood. The first edition of the DVD has been pressed in the USA and not in Europe like the follow-up productions.

THEN 'Praytome Publishing' produced the definitive version, the revised version of the DVD 'Elvis Behind The Image Vol. 1'. (Volume 2 is a totally new release).

What is different? First you'll notice that the menu is interactive now, similar and in the same style like the second volume of this successful series. The design has been adapted also to the second part. Some miscolored or distorted pictures have been corrected or replaced by previously unreleased pictures. In front of every 8mm film has been placed a mini - documentary, which gives background information about the shown material and very rare candid pictures of the relevant concert. In addition all so far released trailers have been integrated as a bonus on this DVD.

The DVD impresses with unbelievable and sensational Super 8mm movies presenting Elvis Presley on stage at different locations, e.g. in Los Angeles, California at the Forum Inglewood Nov. 14, 1970 with an afternoon show and an evening show. In the evening Elvis wears the fabulous 'Fringe Suit', a jumpsuit with very long fringes. This suit has been worn by Elvis only a very few times. It has been on one hand very extravagant, but on the other hand very inexpedient, because during the show the fringes wrapped around Elvis and constricted his appearance. You will find only a handful of photos of this jumpsuit and no one had ever thought about 8mm shots before the release of 'Elvis Behind The Image' Vol. 1.

Moreover you can see a very dynamic Elvis on stage in San Diego, California Nov. 15, 1970 wearing the 'I Got Lucky Suit' at the Sports Arena. Wonderful shots of different appearances in Las Vegas, Nevada at the International Hotel from January and February 1971 complete the 8mm concert movies.

Nevertheless, this super rare 8mm concert footage is not the ultimate sensation of this DVD, but the 8mm material, which shows us the 'man behind the image', the private citizen Elvis and his residences and the interior of his houses in California. Before this DVD was released this had been a black hole in Elvis' life - totally unknown and unexplored.

These fantastic 8mm footages completes the remarkable and interesting documentary. In the documentary close friends of Elvis, e.g. Kathy Westmoreland (soprano of Elvis' orchestra) or John Wilkinson (rhythm guitar player of Elvis' orchestra), talk about Elvis and give impressive background information.

If you still don't have this classic, you should now jump at this chance to order the revised version of the DVD 'Elvis Behind The Image Vol.1'. At the first appearance of this DVD it set the pattern for a very good price-performance ratio and generated enthusiasm from the press and the fans.

Because of the revision the running time extends up to 99 minutes.

The Documentary :

If you look at the cast of the documentary it is like reading the 'Who is Who?' of the Elvis world.

All interview guests of this DVD deliver insight into their life with Elvis and report here exclusively of their private moments with the King of Entertainment.

The DVD starts with 3 long interviews with people who would have seen all sides of Elvis.

Kathy Westmoreland, Elvis' backing singer and girlfriend is first. She tells some very nice stories of Elvis' kindness and humorous side. She talks about the 'real man' mentioning what a sweet & gentle person he was to her, as well as pointing out other facets, like what an avid reader he was. There is also a very telling moment when she reveals that Elvis was the first man that she ever slept with.

She also tells a funny anecdote of Elvis in his 'Long Fringe Suit' which he wore at his LA Forum concert and which we see much more footage of later in the DVD.

The interviews are interspersed with some lovely rare photos (many from Sandi Miller's personal collection) and clips of Elvis on stage. But with Kathy's interview being 17 minutes long, I felt the production could have been improved with a little more innovative editing and a little more Elvis footage in between the stories.

Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 1 DVD.
Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 1 DVD.

The Return To Live Performing:

This part of the documentary deals with the historic period between the end of the Hollywood-era and Elvis' return to stage in Las Vegas in August 1969.

Kathy Westmoreland - An Intimate Relationship:

Kathy Westmoreland.
Kathy Westmoreland.
The accredited soprano singer joined Elvis' increasing stage crew in August 1970. She replaced, as 'the girl with the beautiful high voice', Millie Kirkham and on this DVD tells her personal story for the first time, how she met Elvis and how she became a background singer for the group.

The viewer doesn't only experience much about the artist Elvis Presley, but also about the 'Man Behind The Image'. Kathy, embossed by her job-related and musical experience, characterizes and judges Elvis' vocal ability and also manages, by her emotional telling, to take the fan back to the time she spent with Elvis.

It's incredible how open and how deep she speaks about the human being, Elvis Presley, and her love and sexual relationship. The interested viewer gets here not only the usual information, readable in the tabloids but learns facts never before read or heard. Not only in this interview but in the whole documentary you get a lot of information concerning the fabulous 'Fringe-Suit' footage, which is also included on this DVD. Due to Kathy, being there with Elvis on stage, the fan hears for the first time details of this legendary appearance on November, 14, 1970.

John Wilkinson - A Perverse Sense Of Humor;

James Burton, Elvis, John Wilkinson.
James Burton, Elvis, John Wilkinson.
The famous guitar player and solo artist John Wilkinson (July, You're A Woman) was already a member of Elvis' stage band at the legendary comeback concert on July, 31, 1969. Besides James Burton, John was the only musician to be on stage with Elvis during all the concerts from 1969 to 1977.

Their passion for music was not the only aspect that connected Elvis and John, but also a deep friendship John always felt connected to, as you can see in the interview. Here, the depth of the documentary continues in unbelievable intensity. Wilkinson, already as a child amazed by Elvis, tells here for the first time about his own musical development, how he met Elvis several times and became a member of the TCB Band.

This interview includes never before heard background information and stories about Elvis and attaches great importance of the humor of Elvis the person.

Sandi Miller.
Sandi Miller.
Sandi Miller - My Friend Elvis;

Fans waiting in front of the gates for hours for a glimpse of Elvis were called 'gatepeople'.

During the 1960's Elvis spent a lot time in Los Angeles, where he had several houses, due to his movie commitments.

And fans waited at the gates of his homes hoping to see Elvis or to have a short conversation with their idol. During the 60's Elvis wasn't yet as protected as compared to later years, so it was possible for some fans to get a closer contact to Elvis. Sandi Miller had the huge fortune to develop a friendship with Elvis during several years. Due to that she got insights like no other in the private life of the star during his Hollywood years.

Elvis and Sandi Miller.
Elvis and Sandi Miller.
In her situation she had the opportunity to take photos and footage (together with Sue Wiggert, known from the movie: 'Elvis - That's The Way It Is') which are unbelievably important time documents for the fan today. This private photos show a completely relaxed Elvis who doesn't have to brace himself because the Hollywood camera is pointed at him; an Elvis, who as a private citizen who wears cool clothes, and can also fool around like you and me. The unique candid footage shines not only because of its own rarity, but because of the places were it was filmed: For the first time we see the private Elvis in front of his California houses. At latest now, every Elvis fan will be stunned - the scene where Elvis walks straight to the camera and  it seems he will soon push his nose against the lens thrilled and titillated every Elvis fan.

With this documentary the fan sees for the first time the California houses in moving pictures, the unpublished photos illustrate the interesting stories of the interview guests.

Original Screenshots from the DVD 'Elvis: Behind The Image - Volume 1'.

Original Screenshots from the DVD 'Elvis: Behind The Image - Volume 1'.

Bonus Features:

Unedited Candid and Concert Footage;

Bud Glass Productions took care for not only the lovers of documentaries getting their money worth but also the collectors of Super8 material. Also here the DVD is a unique. You are not just getting a tiny piece of a few seconds that's supposed to make you beg for more as also the footage used in the documentary is included in the 'Bonus Material' area unedited and in full length.

On every 'Elvis - Behind The Image' product the Super8 material is transferred from the original reels with the most modern laser technology. It is unexceptional unreleased material, which has never before circulated.

Candid Material:

If you analyze the footage of Elvis circulating in the fan world even experts will attest to the statement that the portion of 'candid material' is very low compared to the 'concert footage'.

Candid Material.

Concerning 'candid material' when released, this DVD was the uncrowned King on the market. You couldn't find more, and more interesting, 'candid material' on any other publication than on this DVD. (You will today on the 'Elvis Home Movie, 50s, 60s, 70s' Trilogy DVDs) Places like Memphis, Graceland or Las Vegas come up in connection with Elvis in nearly every release. But the opulence of material, showing the private Elvis at his domiciles in California, is unequaled until now.

But here you get this fantastic quality. Not only because the material was high quality in its initial shape (no camera shakes, extremely sharp and good lighting conditions), but the producers didn't spare efforts to transfer the material to Hollywood-standards.

Concert Footage:

Los Angeles, California - Forum Inglewood
November 14, 1970 - 03:00 P.M. Show

Original Screenshots from the DVD 'Elvis: Behind The Image - Volume 1'

Los Angeles, California - Forum Inglewood, November 14, 1970 - 03:00 P.M. Show.
Los Angeles, California - Forum Inglewood, November 14, 1970 - 03:00 P.M. Show.

The period the movie 'Elvis - That's The Way It Is' shows, Elvis in August 1970 on stage in Las Vegas, caused a very special fascination for Elvis fans all over the world.

But a Las Vegas concert is different to a tour concert. So a lot of fans wanted to see Elvis, after his movie career and his successful comeback in Las Vegas, live on tour. This first tour made Elvis again 'available' for his fans and brought the time off stage to an end. With this DVD we now get for the first time we can also watch Elvis from the first row in one of his most famous outfits, the fan already knows for years from the LP cover of 'I Got lucky'. You're an Elvis fan for many years? You think you know how 'the King' has moved on stage because you saw 'That's The Way It Is', 'Elvis On Tour', 'Aloha From Hawaii' or diverse Super8 movies ...

Let us tell you the truth…

You have seen nothing!

Here, Elvis rocks so hard through his program, that he competes with his famous 'NBC-Special'. On this recordings Elvis never stops moving and you see him nearly without a break in action. You're not only getting a few minutes of this footage the whole recordings possess for Super8 recordings an unusual length.

Los Angeles, California - Forum Inglewood
November 14, 1970 - 08:30 P.M. Show

'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
This suit surely also became famous because of the photo shot by Ed Bonja, which was used for the cover of the 'You'll Never Walk Alone' LP. The 'Fringe Suit' shown here, was rarely worn by Elvis, and today its not clear why there were so many myths about this concert and this suit. Maybe because in several books the rumor, that Elvis got caught in the fringes and had to be cut out of the suit, was spread!? We don't know. Or was it up to that there was no information, photo or film material of this first tour? The myth grew with the time and became even stronger when Paul Lichter released black/white pictures of this concert in his illustrated book ('Thank You Very Much').

32 years later we have the opportunity to make this surely unique footage available for the fans. Maybe it was really up to this film material, that made this DVD so extremely successful in the Elvis world. This material was, also filmed from the first row. We get an outstanding and great Elvis concert and the probably best 'front row ticket' of all times. These recordings are, without understating, historic and the experts nearly tumbled looking for superlatives. In connection with the documentary, which gives you the required background information by the interview partners at first hand, it is an especially great pleasure to lean back at home with the 'Elvis - Behind The Image' - DVD in your home cinema and letting this collector's dream come true after all this years.

Original Screenshots from the DVD

Elvis: Behind The Image Volume 1

San Diego, California - Sports Arena
November 15, 1970 - 08:30 P.M. Show

Original Screenshots from the DVD 'Elvis: Behind The Image - Volume 1'

San Diego, California - Sports Arena November 15, 1970 - 08:30 P.M. Show. San Diego, California - Sports Arena November 15, 1970 - 08:30 P.M. Show.

For decades we've been wondering how Elvis was on stage during his first tour in 1970. For years you could only learn from diverse books (Joe Tunzi, Paul Lichter) in form of photographs. But on this DVD you see everything abundantly.

Again we can watch Elvis in crystal clear quality over several days. This footage is also filmed from the first row and shows Elvis with the very famous stage suit, we also know from the cover of the 'That's The Way It Is' LP.

But here the aboved-named suit comes into operation with a red macramée-belt. All appearances have the the suit in common, however, it is striking, that Elvis moved differently every day and has a different impact on the viewer every time.

That makes the recordings even more valuable for the viewer. Astonishingly, the appearances are totally different to Las Vegas and 'That's The Way It Is'. After you've seen this recordings you will realize that you'll have to rethink some opinions on the Elvis of the 70's because you haven't seen him this way before.

Las Vegas, Nevada - International Hotel
January & February 1971 Engagement

It is terrific to see just how hard Elvis performed, and how dynamic he was, even when he wasn't working to the cameras. The final show is from Jan 1971 in Las Vegas, more great footage, but this time taken from the balcony.

The bonus material the DVD offers, ends with a special summit. When the Elvis collector's label FTD wanted to release a concert from 1971, the producers in charge had problems to find photo material for the cover ('The Impossible Dream').

'Elvis - Now'.
'Elvis - Now'.
So it should be clear, how rare Super8 material from that time is. And in addition the viewer gets footage of Elvis in the famous 'Elvis Now' suit, we have know for years from diverse LP covers. Filmed from the balcony, above stage level, you have a total view on Elvis and the stage and you can watch the star working in crystal clear quality.

And just like with all amateur recordings on this DVD classic, the producers took care to make the complete recordings available for the collector and enthusiastic Elvis fan and not only a short clip.

A comment about the soundtrack:

All of the amateur recordings of this film material were recorded in 1970 without sound. Cameras with sound were not available to the general public before the end of 1974/beginning of 1975.

There is no Elvis singing on the DVD:

'Elvis sings hits from his movies'.
'Elvis sings hits from his movies'.
It also not possible to add original Elvis music to the film material because of the legal situation. Even if it was possible it would not be the right solution for most of the film. This results from the fact that a Super8 reel had a capacity of 3 minutes. The person filming wanted to capture as much variety as possible of the concert, so he or she filmed as many sequences as possible, many only last a few seconds, due to the running time of the reel. If you tried to add music in lip synchronisation the resulting material would sound like a broken LP. Apart from that, you could only use a small amount of the amateurish recorded live appearances for a so called 'overdubbing'. Even if the person filmed 3 or 4 reels per concert at that time, you would have to cut the concert of one hour down to 9 or rather 12 minutes what brings us back to the effect of the broken LP. (An example could be the recent Madison Square Garden film included in 'Prince From Another Planet' (Madison Square Garden).

If you eclipse the lip synchronization, you could use Elvis songs as background music but then Elvis' moves totally wouldn't fit the music. It would all seem out of tempo and pretty strange to the fans and would make the pleasure smaller.

You have to see Super8 recordings as what they actually are:

The Super8 film enables us to experience Elvis in situations of different years, which would not be available for us otherwise. If amateurs didn't film any footage of we wouldn't even be able to see the star 'live' outside of 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1977 (CBS TV Special).

Specially recorded Soundtrack:

The producers did not expect us to watch a silent movie, so Bud Glass Productions decided for a different way. Instead of using barely fitting karaoke tracks or some kind of elevator music, like its common in cheap productions, the team used specially composed music for this DVD, recorded in a studio by real musicians. For the first time ever you can find high quality music on a Elvis-collectors-DVD, completing the 'picture' if you will, making this much more enjoyable.

Buy Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 1 DVD
Buy Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 2 DVD

Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 2 DVD

You know the legend ... now meet the man

Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 2 DVD.
Elvis : Behind The Image Vol. 2 DVD.

With Behind The Image Vol. 2 we get around 90 minutes of documentary / interview material - accompanied by inserts of memorabilia, pictures and live-footage and around 45 minutes of unseen concert-footage.

The DVD starts with an unusual and more than impressive introduction with an animated Elvis, dancing and doing some karate moves to a didgeridoo (one of the oldest instruments on earth). The shots we see are taken from the bonus 8mm material and are unseen to these eyes.

Those interviewed include - Cynthia Pepper, who played the character of 'Midge Riley' in 'Kissin' Cousins', Ed Hill of the Stamps Quartet who talks about Elvis as a dear friend who never forgot where he came from. (This part is packed with footage including the CBS announcement of Elvis' passing and an emotional explanation of JD Sumner saying that (in his opinion), 'there was no greater man next to Jesus than Elvis' and Ed Enoch, which is the longest of the three interviews lasting 45 minutes. Like Ed Hill, Ed Enoch talks about how it was to work with Elvis on stage. Enoch explains, that he came - just like Ed Hill - from the gospel scene, before he met Elvis for the first time in fall 1970 and talks about the mood at the rehearsals with Elvis and more about the work on stage.

Behind The Image Volume 1 and 2 are absolutely first-class products! with 160 minutes of entertaining interviews in volume 2, 899 minutes in volume 1, background information and unbelievable concert-footage for a more than a reasonable price, when you compare it to prices for similar products.

This DVD is highly recommended!!

DVDs from Praytome Publishing

Note! Behind The Image DVD Vol 1
Behind The Image DVD Vol 2

Note! Elvis Adrenaline '70 : Volume 1 DVD
Note! Elvis Adrenaline '71 : Volume 2 DVD

Books from Praytome Publishing

Note! Elvis : Born To Rock
Elvis : Live at Del Webb's Sahara Tahoe : The World's Best Kept Secret Book

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

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. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.