WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The King of Rock and Roll has been gone for more than 30 years, but he still has millions of fans around the world. He starred in dozens of films over his career, and three of his most notable ones have been brought to Blu-ray for the first time in a box set. “Jailhouse Rock” (1957), “Viva Las Vegas” (1964) and “Elvis on Tour” (1972) are presented in a single box set.
WHAT I LIKED
In Quentin Tarantino’s film “Pulp Fiction” (and plenty of other places, of course), the question was posed whether you are an Elvis fan or a Beatles fan. All my life, the answer to that question was that I am an Elvis fan. Nothing against the Beatles, but I’ve always felt more in tune with Presley’s music than I did with the Beatles. Even in his waning Las Vegas years, I’d much prefer to hear an Elvis song than the alternative.
Still, with my appreciation for his music, I haven’t seen too many of his films. Let’s face it, many of those films were fiercely formulaic and served more as a vehicle to his fame than quality work. However, this collection brings together three really fine examples of his work.
“Jailhouse Rock” is a neat piece because it gives us a relatively young and new Elvis. The studio sprung for Cinemascope but not for color photography, and while it’s still the story of a kid trying to make it as a singer, it gave us a more rough-and-tumble look at Elvis as a character. And I don’t care what Eddie Murphy says in his stand-up, the King wasn’t that bad of an actor at all.
“Viva Las Vegas” was pretty glitzy for Elvis’s career, even if the Vegas of 1964 pales in comparison to the Vegas of 2010. The real charm of this movie was the interaction between Elvis and his co-star Ann-Margaret. Using bright colors and a widescreen look, “Viva Las Vegas” managed to bridge the gap between a singing showcase for Presley and a road movie with a nice dose of action at the end.
“Elvis on Tour” is the most personal film, documenting the King’s popularity in the early 1970s. By this time, many of the screaming girls were women in their 30s and 40s, but that’s okay. This treats the audience to Presley in his older Vegas style years, complete with overblown sunglasses and studded jumpsuits, but he was still young and fit. I’m not wild about concert movies, but this works as a nice historical marker on the man’s career, only a few short years before his death.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Let’s face it, if you’re not an Elvis fan, you’re not going to appreciate this Blu-ray set. This is one of those archive releases that gives viewers a chance to see the hi-def presentation of the films, which is arguably even better than watching a projected print because the transfer has been cleaned up a bit.
“Jailhouse Rock” looks best of the three, but they all have a fine image. The only real downside is for the Elvis junkie, these are just hi-def re-releases of previous material.
Packaged together in a three-disc set, the movies come with the special features from the previous DVD releases. Both “Jailhouse Rock” and “Viva Las Vegas” have a commentary by Elvis historian Steve Pond as well as a featurette for each movie and the theatrical trailers. The featurette on “Jailhouse Rock” is about the film and song itself and plays like a VH1 special. “Viva Las Vegas” has a featurette that is more an overview of Elvis’s career though it does focus on his fascination with Vegas.
“Elvis on Tour” does not include any special features at all.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
The 50 million Elvis fans, who apparently can’t be wrong.