Review | 'This Is Elvis' Special Edition DVD

By: John Beifuss
Source: TCB
November 16, 2007

This Is Elvis 1981
This Is Elvis 1981
The 1981 documentary This Is Elvis -- produced with the guidance of  Jerry Schilling and Joe Esposito -- made its DVD debut recently from Warner Home Video in a two-disc 'Special Edition'.

Released in 2007, along with several other titles*; 'This Is Elvis' is just the cherry on top of the cake, as another documentary on the life of the King Himself.  It includes a true retrospective and includes interviews with those that were close to him. Included are the original 1981 release, and the additional scenes they includes in 1983. If you want to know about Elvis, this is the DVD for you.

Narrated as if from beyond the grave by a contemplative Elvis ("People always bugged me about my hair," the Elvis-imitating narrator states at one point), 'This Is Elvis' is an almost literal mixed bag: a movie biography that mixes archival performance, news, interview and home movie footage with re-enactments of Elvis' childhood, teen years and final days.

The first disc contains the original 102-minute, PG-rated theatrical version of the film, while the second disc is devoted to the 144-minute edition released to home video in 1983. The longer version rambles needlessly and is more tasteless and voyeuristic (scenes of 'Ginger Aldren' waking up alone in bed and finding 'Elvis' slumped on the Graceland bathroom floor were cut for the theatrical release); its full-frame picture quality also is inferior to that of the widescreen original release.

But it does include a lot of vintage footage not on the first disc, including a sequence in which a gum-smacking, slouching young Elvis visits WHBQ-TV host Wink Martindale to promote the Memphis Press-Scimitar's Cynthia Milk Fund; a game- show appearance by Elvis' grandfather; and an excerpt from the 'Elvin Pelvin' episode of 'The Phil Silvers Show'.

This version also eliminates some of the more embarrassing Elvis footage found in the original, including some sexual remarks and a forgetful, almost incoherent 1970s performance of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'.

-- John Beifuss

* Also released with 'This is Elvis' on DVD is a two disc edition of 'Elvis: That's the Way It Is' and the following movies - 'Charro!', 'Kissin' Cousins', 'Girl Happy', 'Live a Little, Love a Little', 'Stay Away, Joe', deluxe editions of 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Viva Las Vegas'.

Read the original 1981 New York Times Movie Review

Buy This Is Elvis DVD

This Is Elvis

From executive producer and award-winning documentarian David L. Wolper (Roots, L.A. Confidential), This Is Elvis is an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait crafted by Andrew Solt (Imagine: John Lennon) and Malcolm Leo (Rolling Stone: 20 Years of Rock 'n' Roll). Elvis' 'authorized biography' draws on interviews with the people who knew Presley best - family, friends, employees and mentor/manager Colonel Tom Parker - and includes some rare, never before seen footage, including home movies, newsreels and several key TV appearances.

Special Features:

Disc 1:

  • First-ever home video release of the original, uncensored 1981 Theatrical version in a new digital transfer with soundtrack remastered in Dolby Surround 2.0
  • Vintage featurette Behind the Gates of Graceland
  • Elvis Presley movie trailer gallery
  • Languages : English, German
  • Subtitles: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Swedish, + English & German for the hearing impared. (feature film only)

Disc 2: 1983 Unrated expanded Home video version with 40 minutes of footage not shown in theatres.

  • Languages : English
  • Subtitles: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Swedish, + English & German for the hearing impared. (feature film only)

Buy This Is Elvis DVD

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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.