Now Available: Warner Brothers releases THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – SPECIAL EDITION on Blu-ray

Today, Warner Brothers releases Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition on Blu-ray. This 2000 revision of the original 1970 documentary has been available on DVD since 2001, but this marks the first Blu-ray release – featuring high definition video quality and upgraded sound. The Blu-ray is presented in a “digibook” format similar to the 2010 release of 1972’s Elvis On Tour.

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray (2014)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray (2014)

Early reviews (here and here) have revealed new information about this release. Despite a Warner Brothers press release indicating otherwise, the 1970 theatrical version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is apparently does not appear on the Blu-ray disc. Instead, it is only provided on the accompanying DVD disc. In addition, outtake footage provided as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray disc is apparently of poor quality – despite comments in June to the contrary by a Warner Brothers executive.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences:

1.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Rehearsal-July 14)

2.) Eating Sequence (July 14)

3.) “Cattle Call,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Don’t” (Rehearsal-July 29)

4.) “Farther Along” (Rehearsal-August 4)

5.) “Oh Happy Day” (Rehearsal-August 7)

6.) “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” (Live-August 11 Dinner Show)

7.) “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (Live-August 11 Midnight Show)

8.) “I’ve Lost You” (Live-August 12 Dinner Show)

9.) “Sweet Caroline” (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

10.) “Little Sister”* (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

11.) “Stranger In The Crowd” (Live-August 13 Dinner Show)

12.) After Show Party (August 10 Opening Show)

*The “Get Back” portions of this live medley were edited out of the 2007 DVD release and also apparently do not appear on the 2014 Blu-ray.

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences (same as listed above)

To promote the Blu-ray, a limited-engagement theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition begins on August 16 in Memphis and expands to much of the US the following day.

Warner Brothers provides details on THAT’S THE WAY IT IS Blu-ray outtakes

[August 5, 2014 Update: A July 21 email request for more details from George Feltenstein at Warner Brothers thus far remains unanswered. However, early reviews of the Blu-ray (here and here) have provided the following:

  • The theatrical version of the film does not appear on the Blu-ray disc. It only appears on the DVD, which is the same version as previous releases.
  • The outtakes on the Blu-ray are about the same poor quality as they were on the 2007 DVD. No significant improvements in video or audio.
  • The live version of “Get Back” does not appear in the Blu-ray outtakes. Only the “Little Sister” portions of the medley appear – as on the 2007 DVD release.

Unfortunately, it seems that’s the way it is.

Thank you to LSP-4445 amd rgray_69 at the For Elvis CD Collectors forum for providing the review links.]

July 20, 2014 Original Post

In a recent Graceland.com podcast, Warner Brothers Senior Vice-President of Catalog Marketing George Feltenstein provided more details on the 12 outtakes included as special features on the That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray due out on August 12. The film follows Elvis in the summer of 1970.

As suspected, the content mirrors that of the 2007 2-DVD set, except with a new twist. On DVD, the outtakes were presented in abysmal quality, but on Blu-ray, they will be pristine. In the June 20 podcast, Feltenstein explained:

“The Blu-ray has high-definition, incredible new presentation, [and an] all-new master, but we also have, with really impressive quality, additional songs that were not included in the Special Edition. They were on a prior DVD but with, really, not very impressive quality because that’s the best that we had at the time, and it really was disappointing to fans. So, we were unable to locate the actual master tapes that had the outtakes that we intended to use in 2007, and, finally, now, that tape was located, and that is now on the Blu-ray. So people will be able to see the – I think there are about ten – additional performances, and they’re going to look and sound much better than they did on the 2007 DVD – which was really a heartbreaker for us because we always want to give the consumers the best thing we can, and now we can do that, and it’s very, very exciting. We are always looking for new ways to make Elvis fans happy.”

The outtakes are:

1.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Rehearsal-July 14)

2.) Eating Sequence (July 14)

3.) “Cattle Call,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” and “Don’t” (Rehearsal-July 29)

4.) “Farther Along” (Rehearsal-August 4)

5.) “Oh Happy Day” (Rehearsal-August 7)

6.) “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” (Live-August 11 Dinner Show)

7.) “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (Live-August 11 Midnight Show)

8.) “I’ve Lost You” (Live-August 12 Dinner Show)

9.) “Sweet Caroline” (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

10.) “Little Sister”/[“Get Back”*] (Live-August 12 Midnight Show)

11.) “Stranger In The Crowd” (Live-August 13 Dinner Show)

12.) After Show Party (August 10 Opening Show)

*The “Get Back” portions of this live medley were edited out of the 2007 DVD release. It is unclear as of yet whether they have been restored for the 2014 Blu-ray release.

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

Elvis rehearsing on August 7, 1970

According to a Warner Brothers press release, here are the product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

A limited-engagement theatrical run of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is begins on August 16 in Memphis and expands to much of the US the following day.

A week prior to the Blu-ray, Sony will release 10-disc and 2-disc expanded versions of the Elvis: That’s The Way It Is album on August 5.

Reserve your seat now for ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – SPECIAL EDITION, coming to US theaters in August

Elvis in THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Elvis in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

As hoped, Warner Brothers is bringing a newly restored version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition to theaters across the United States in August. Playing in 40 states, the limited engagement promotes the August 12 release of the documentary on Blu-ray.

Elvis: That’s The Way It Is was a 1970 MGM documentary that captured Elvis on stage and off during his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. In 2000, the “Special Edition,” a completely new edit of the film, made its debut in Memphis. It hit stores the following year on VHS and DVD. The Special Edition used elements of the original movie as well as previously unseen footage. In some ways, it was an improvement upon the theatrical version, while in other ways, it was inferior.

For the purposes of this 2014 theatrical screening, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition is admittedly the best choice for sharing with the “general public” and even casual Elvis fans. After the previously announced August 16 premiere at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, other US theaters will begin showing the film the week of August 17.

This will mark the third time I have seen Elvis in theaters, dating back to an edit of the ELVIS “Comeback Special” in 2004 and Elvis On Tour in 2010. Each of those previous times, I remember thinking, “This is great, but I really wish I could see That’s The Way It Is like this.”

For me, That’s The Way It Is represents Elvis Presley at his very best. I was only two when Elvis passed away, so he was gone before I ever had a chance to see him in concert. This is a dream-come-true, next best thing for me. I can’t wait! Accept no imitations. This is the real deal.

Be sure to check out the brand-new trailer below or over on USAToday.com.

Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

 

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

Warner Home Video has released the cover art for the August 12 Blu-ray release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition (above). The documentary captures Elvis in the summer of 1970 in rehearsals and performances for his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

There are also at least two versions of the related press release floating around on the Web. As this version comes directly from Warner Brothers, this is likely the most accurate as far as preliminary product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

That’s The Way It Is represents my personal favorite of all of Elvis Presley’s projects, so I am thrilled it is finally coming to Blu-ray. Based on Warner Home Video’s partial mangling of the 2010 Elvis On Tour Blu-ray release, among other prior Elvis video issues, I am trying to remain cautious, however.

Content-wise, this appears simply to be a Blu-ray version of the 2007 2-DVD reissue of the Special Edition. However, the potential for dramatic improvement in video and audio quality that Blu-ray offers should be a strong selling point. I suspect that only the 2001 Special Edition, which represents a completely different edit of the film than the original theatrical version, is garnering the full upgrade treatment. I hope I am wrong, however, as both versions deserve it.

I hope that Warner spent more time on the films than it did the cover art, for something about it looks slightly familiar. Join me for a trip down Memories Lane for a look at previous home video cover art related to That’s The Way It Is.

Original Home Video Releases (Circa. 1987)

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video covers (circa. 1987)

Note the error on the left cover promoting “The Wonder of You” as being included in the movie. Though Elvis name-checks the song, it did not appear in the actual film. A performance of “The Wonder of You” from that engagement did not appear on video for another five years. It was also added to the Special Edition version in 2001.

1988 VHS Re-release

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video cover (1988)

Lest there be any doubt, Elvis did not wear a pink jumpsuit in That’s The Way It Is. As a child of the 1980s, I have to love the vintage cover art style, though.

1992 VHS Release of The Lost Performances

THE LOST PERFORMANCES home video cover (1992)

The original photo of the same Elvis pose made an appearance on the cover of Elvis: The Lost Performances, a release that helped define my Elvis fanhood. It featured outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. While the main Elvis photo is unfortunately a reverse image, this is still one of my all-time favorite covers. Maybe it is because I loved that video so much, though. Looking back, I do have to wonder if using similar cover art caused consumer confusion. Many that already had the 1988 video release of That’s The Way It Is may very well have believed this was the same content under new packaging – despite the “lost” title.

 1997 VHS Re-releases and First DVD Release

1997 VHS editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and THE LOST PERFORMANCES; 1997 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

As The Lost Performances had (temporarily) taken over the Elvis pose first used for That’s The Way It Is on VHS in 1988, striking new cover art for That’s The Way It Is made its debut for the 1997 VHS and DVD editions of the film. The Lost Performances VHS cover also received a slight redesign for 1997, though, sadly, it did not receive a DVD issue.

2001 Special Edition VHS and DVD Releases

2001 VHS and DVD editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

A new edit of That’s The Way It Is, marketed as That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition, made its debut in limited theatrical runs in 2000. In 2001, it hit home video with VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, Warner had to excise bonus features at the last moment due to not obtaining proper clearances. A performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits also had to be replaced. The original version of the film was not included. For the cover art, Warner went back to the tried and true Elvis pose first used in 1988 – despite the fact that this was a different version of the film from the original. Again, fans who already had previous versions with similar covers probably did not bother to buy this one. The “special edition” also featured only a few of the songs from The Lost Performances.

2007 DVD Re-release

2007 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

By 2007, the original theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is was out-of-print on DVD. A 2-DVD re-release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition included the original film and some of the excised bonus features from 2001 on the second disc. Bonus features were in embarrassing video quality for a mainstream release. While definitely watchable, the 1970 theatrical cut was also in lesser condition relative to the 2001 edit.

2014 First Blu-ray Release (and beyond?)

2014 Blu-ray edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Hundreds of incredible photos are available of Elvis during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, but the Warner Home Video art department remains firmly fixated on the same image featuring Elvis after audience members have ripped his jumpsuit and mussed up his hair during an impulsive walk through the crowd.

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION coming to Blu-ray in August

Elvis Presley performs live in August 1970

Elvis Presley in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION (1970/2000)

From ElvisMatters:

An exclusive screening of the world premiere of Warner Bros.’ newly-remastered version of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Special Edition will be held at the Orpheum Theatre [in Memphis, Tennessee]. The Elvis concert documentary will be available for the first time on Blu-ray on August 12. Fans will be treated not only to the newly-remastered film, but will also get to experience an outtake performance or sequence never-before-seen on the big screen. In addition, the screening will feature an on-stage performance by Terry Blackwood and The Imperials and “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” related artifacts on display in the lobby, direct from the Graceland Archives.

I have not yet been able to find confirmation of this on the official Elvis.com or Graceland.com sites, but it is not unusual for them to be behind on even their own news. I even tried the Orpheum site.

If this pans out, I would not be surprised if additional screenings are added across the United States via Fathom Events, as was done to promote the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray in 2010.

Perhaps Warner will be more accurate in its product descriptions for That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition Blu-ray than they were for the Elvis On Tour Blu-ray.

Update: Graceland.com has now confirmed the screening and Blu-ray release for August, though the press release is unclear on certain product details. Look for plenty of coverage here in coming months.

Cinematic Justice: NOBODY short film to focus on 18-year-old Elvis Presley

“He said he was a singer. I said, ‘What kind of a singer are you?’ He said, ‘I sing all kinds.’ I said, ‘Who do you sound like?’ He said, ‘I don’t sound like nobody.'” –Memphis Recording Service office manager Marion Keisker recalling her Summer 1953 meeting with Elvis (1)

Elvis, circa. 1953

Elvis, circa. 1953

“My ultimate goal with Nobody is to give Elvis Presley the cinematic justice he deserves, even if only through an independent short film,” said William Bryan, writer/director/producer of Nobody. The film, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, will portray Elvis in the waning days of his senior year in high school. A key event will be his performance at the April 1953 Humes High School talent show, which gave the shy singer enough confidence to walk into Memphis Recording Service just weeks later to record a demo.

Bryan, an Elvis fan since he was 11-years-old, has made an annual visit to Memphis for the last ten years. While studying at Columbia College Chicago, he made numerous short films. His goal for Nobody, which is also produced by 2011 Columbia College graduate Tom Radovich, is that it inspire today’s dreamers.

“Sure, this might sound a bit romanticized,” Bryan explained, “but think about who Elvis Presley was at the time of our story. He was a senior in high school who wasn’t the sports hero, didn’t have a girlfriend…he really was a nobody.”

While Nobody focuses on early Elvis, Bryan does not limit his fandom to that era. “I’ve been listening to a lot of ballad numbers that Elvis recorded between 1969 and 1971. ‘I’ll Never Know’ and ‘I’ve Lost You’ have been two of my favorites this week,” he said.

Nobody‘s Kickstarter campaign ends on June 1. If it can secure enough funding to proceed, the independent production promises a new look at Elvis compared to previous dramatizations of his life. “With all due respect to the filmmakers who have come before me and already told an Elvis story, many of the ‘Hollywood’ productions have unfortunately been less-than-tasteful, historically inaccurate, or worse, both,” said Bryan.

Reference

(1) ELVIS: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 41.


Considering that as recent as four days ago, I noted that I no longer care to watch dramatizations of Elvis’ life, you may wonder why I chose to cover this particular story. I believe Nobody has a chance to distance itself from many of the other films made about Elvis over the years due to the most important ingredient in any creative endeavor: Passion. Bryan seems to have a strong passion for the subject, which will hopefully translate into a special film.

As with all Elvis dramatizations, though, another important aspect will be casting. This is even more important for a short film, I would say, because there is less time for the audience to connect with the character. For a movie such as Nobody to be taken seriously, a strong actor needs to be cast – not someone doing an Elvis caricature.

This should be a fun story to keep an eye on in the coming months. My thanks to William Bryan for taking part in an email interview for this article.

King Creole: The Making Of The Movie

Elvis Presley, 1958

Elvis Presley in King Creole, 1958

King Creole was based on the 1952 novel A Stone For Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins. The novel’s protagonist is a boxer in New York, which the movie adapted into a singer in New Orleans to better suit audience expectations of its star, Elvis Presley. Elvis read the novel as part of his preparations for the role of Danny Fisher.

Producer Hal Wallis had been trying to get the film version of A Stone For Danny Fisher off the ground since 1955, long before Elvis was attached to the project. At that time, A Stone For Danny Fisher was also playing as an off-Broadway production.

James Dean was even rumored to have been in the running for the movie’s lead at one point. This was Wallis’ second Elvis movie. He would go on to produce nine Elvis movies in all.

Hal Wallis: “Michael Curtiz directed the film and he has a very sharp but romantic instinct. Walter Matthau made an excellent heavy and we had marvelous locations in New Orleans” (1).

Controversy swirled around King Creole before shooting even began. In late 1957, Elvis received his draft notice ordering him into the US Army as of January 1958.

With production slated to begin in Hollywood that same month, Paramount requested a deferment from the Memphis draft board, citing $300,000 it had already pumped into the movie during pre-production. Milton Bowers of the draft board replied that a deferment might be possible under the circumstances, but that Elvis would have to be the one to request it.

On Christmas Eve, 1957, Elvis wrote a letter requesting extra time before reporting to the Army in order to make King Creole. He completed the letter by wishing a “Merry Christmas” to the draft board members. Bowers and the draft board indeed granted his extension request, but soon received heat from other organizations – including the national chapter of the American Legion – calling for the immediate induction of Elvis.

Milton Bowers: “You know what made me angry about the entire thing is that he would have automatically gotten the extension if he hadn’t been Elvis Presley the superstar” (2).

Elvis Presley: “I’m glad they were nice enough to let me make this picture because I think it will be the best one I’ve made” (3).

On January 10, 1958, just two days after celebrating his 23rd birthday, Elvis departed Memphis on a train for Los Angeles. He brought along several friends, including Alan Fortas.

Alan Fortas: “Every town we passed through, no matter what time of morning or night, the whole station was jam-packed. These people knew as soon as Elvis finished this movie, he was going in the Army, so most of them considered it the last time to see him. […] People knew and they were lined up along the tracks all the way across America” (4).

Elvis arrived in Hollywood on January 13 and reported for pre-production. During the week, he also began work on the soundtrack at Radio Recorders.

During pre-production, the movie was titled Sing, You Sinners. This title was changed to Danny, and finally King Creole, based on the strength of the rock ‘n’ roll tune Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote for the soundtrack.

Filming began on January 20. Many of Elvis’ early scenes were with Jan Shepard, who played his sister, Mimi.

Jan Shepard: “[W]e worked together alone for about a week, because we did the opening of the show. He was […] just a lot of fun and buoyant, not guarded at all. There was a five-and-dime store on our set, and in the morning I would find earrings and little bracelets, little five-and-dime stuff on my dressing room table. I used to call him the last of the big-time spenders!” (5)

Because of his character’s name, Elvis often sang “Danny Boy” on set. He would return to the folk song many times over the years, including a 1959 home recording captured while he was stationed in Germany (available on the posthumous release A Golden Celebration). He formally recorded the song in 1976 at Graceland for the album From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. An organist played the song at the beginning of Elvis’ funeral in 1977.

Dolores Hart appeared as Nellie, one of Danny’s love interests. She had previously appeared with Elvis in 1957’s Loving You, also a Hal Wallis production.

Elvis Presley: “[King Creole] was quite a challenge for me because it was written for a more experienced actor” (6).

Dolores Hart: “Elvis, no matter what anyone says, deserves credit as a person of talent. There is no reason he shouldn’t soar to the heights the kings [of the screen] occupy now” (7).

Jan Shepard: “[Elvis] was very concentrated, very focused on playing Danny. For a kid coming in and just beginning his career he had a great sense of timing; there was great honesty in his acting. He was a very good listener, and he just became the young boy […]. Just like in his music, he really got involved in his acting” (5).

Walter Matthau played Fisher’s antagonist, Maxie Fields. It was his sixth film.

Walter Matthau, 1958

Walter Matthau in King Creole

Walter Matthau: “I almost hesitate, I creep up to the sentence, [Elvis] was an instinctive actor. Because that is almost a derogation of his talents. That’s saying, ‘Well, you know, he’s just a dumb animal who does it well by instinct.’ No, he was quite bright, too. He was very intelligent. Also, he was intelligent enough to understand what a character was and how to play the character simply by being himself through the means of the story” (8).

Michael Curtiz’s directing credits extended back to 1912. In addition to 1942’s Casablanca, for which he won an Oscar, his other work, from among nearly 200 films, included the 1937 original version of Kid Galahad, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and White Christmas (1954). Curtiz was attached to King Creole before it was transformed into an Elvis movie.

Jan Shepard: “Curtiz said he thought Elvis was going to be a very conceited boy, but when he started working with him, he said, ‘No, this is a lovely boy, and he’s going to be a wonderful actor'” (5).

Walter Matthau: “Michael Curtiz used to call him Elvy and he’d call me Valty. He’d say, ‘Now Elvy and Valty, come here, now Valty, this is not Academy Award scene. Don’t act so much. You are high-price actor. Make believe you are low-price actor. Let Elvy act.’ But Elvy didn’t overact. He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate . . . refined and sophisticated” (8).

Jan Shepard: “You just didn’t have a lot of fooling around with Curtiz […]. But no matter what Curtiz would ask of Elvis, he would say, ‘Okay, you’re the boss'” (5).

Elvis at a party in 1958

Elvis performing at Jan Shepard’s birthday party on February 22, 1958. Also pictured is Dolores Hart on clarinet.

Hart threw a birthday party for Shepard on February 22. Elvis showed up with a stuffed tiger that he named “Danny Boy.” His birthday gift for Shepard was a movie camera, definitely not from the five-and-dime store. He also played guitar and sang at the party.

King Creole was the first Elvis movie to include location shooting. On March 1, the film’s cast and crew headed for New Orleans by train. At this point, Red West, Elvis’ friend since his high school days, and actor Nick Adams, who Elvis had befriended in 1956, joined up with the rest of his entourage for the trip.

Carolyn Jones played Ronnie, Danny’s other love interest. She brought her husband, actor Aaron Spelling, along for the train ride to New Orleans. The couple would divorce in 1964. Spelling later went on to produce dozens of television series, including Charlie’s Angels and Beverly Hills 90210.

Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, expressed concerns about security on the location shoot to Wallis. Wallis assured Parker that they could handle it. After all, he had worked with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis at the peak of the duo’s popularity.

Alan Fortas: “There were thousands of people. Hal Wallis couldn’t believe it. […] I never saw so many people in my life. They declared it Elvis Presley Day and let the kids out of school and it took us two hours to get back to the hotel no matter where we were, even from across the street” (9).

In the French Quarter, the car carrying Elvis was almost overturned by the massive crowd.

Carolyn Jones: “[Elvis] had to ride in an old sedan, lying on the floor in the back, so his fans couldn’t mob him” (10).

Elvis took over the tenth floor of the Roosevelt Hotel, one block from where they were filming in the French Quarter. Hotel security was so tight that no one was admitted to the tenth floor. As a joke, Hart, Jones, and Adams armed themselves with toy guns and held up the elevator operator to force their way to Elvis’ floor. The elevator operator was not in on the joke and was apparently still shaken the next day.

Alan Fortas: “[W]e got on the elevator and we said, ‘Tenth floor, please.’ The elevator operator said, ‘No, sir, I can’t stop on the tenth floor. Mr. Presley is up there and we just can’t stop.’ Elvis was on the elevator with us and he said, ‘Yeah, I know. I’m Elvis.’ The elevator operator looked straight at him and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, I can’t stop on that floor for anybody.’ We had to go to the eleventh floor and walk down” (9).

The film’s climax was shot at a house on stilts at Lake Pontchartrain. Elvis and Jones shared scenes there.

Carolyn Jones: “[Elvis] was always asking a lot of questions. God, he was young! I didn’t think anyone could be that young. He was always talking about his folks and about the house [Graceland] he’d just bought them” (8).

When onlookers at Lake Pontchartrain became unmanageable, Elvis had to escape through the back of the house to a motorboat that whisked him away.

Though Memphis was tantalizingly close, the group had to return by train to Hollywood to be released from King Creole. Elvis attended a wrap party on March 12, and then he and his friends were on yet another train. Destination: Memphis.

Alan Fortas: “We’d just sit and talk [on the train], try to write songs, try to sing. You know, just typical ol’ boys. But it got to us by the time we got to Dallas. We couldn’t take it any longer. So we got off that train and rented some Cadillacs and drove the rest of the way home” (11).

Elvis arrived home on March 14 and was inducted into the Army on March 24.

Paramount released King Creole throughout the United States on July 2. It peaked at #5 on the Variety charts. At this time, Private Presley was still stationed at Fort Hood in Texas.

Hal Wallis: “Now, although I don’t have all the figures, I believe that one of the least successful of Elvis’s films was King Creole. But that was my favorite!” (1)

Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley in King Creole

Dolores Hart and Elvis in King Creole

Dolores Hart: “Elvis is a young man with an enormous capacity of love . . . but I don’t think he has found his happiness. I think he is terribly lonely” (12).

According to longtime friend Sonny West, if Elvis had his way, he would have reunited with director Michael Curtiz when Elvis was cast in a remake of Kid Galahad, which filmed in late 1961 (13). This time, Elvis actually played a boxer, albeit a singing one. Despite Elvis’ campaign, Phil Karlson received the directing nod instead. Curtiz passed away in April 1962 at the age of 74.

Elvis later reunited with Jan Shepard in 1966’s Paradise, Hawaiian Style, in which she played Betty Kohana. Shepard had maintained a friendship with Hart after King Creole. By this time, the quality of Elvis’ movies had declined. While King Creole is a contender for Elvis’ best movie, Paradise, Hawaiian Style is a contender for his worst.

Jan Shepard: “One time [Elvis] asked about Dolores Hart, and we had a little bit of a conversation. In the quiet moments, he was still very sweet. When we reminisced about Creole, he said, ‘Honey, that was my favorite picture'” (14).


Bibliography

  • Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1999.
  • Down At The End Of Lonely Street: The Life And Death Of Elvis Presley by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske, Dutton, New York, 1997.
  • ELVIS: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007.
  • Elvis Commemorative Edition, compiled by Bill DeNight, Sharon Fox, and Ger Rijff, Publications International, Lincolnwood, IL, 2002.
  • Elvis Day By Day: The Definitive Record Of His Life And Music by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, Ballantine Books, New York, 1999.
  • The Elvis Encyclopedia by Adam Victor, Overlook Duckworth, New York, 2008.
  • Elvis: The Great Performances, dir. Andrew Solt, perf. Elvis Presley, 1989, DVD, SOFA, 2011.
  • Elvis: His Life From A To Z by Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1990.
  • Elvis In Private, edited by Peter Haining, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1987.
  • Elvis: Still Taking Care Of Business by Sonny West with Marshall Terrill, Triumph Books, Chicago, 2007.
  • Good Rockin’ Tonight: Twenty Years On The Road And On The Town With Elvis by Joe Esposito and Elena Oumano, Avon Books, New York, 1994.
  • Internet Movie Database, accessed March 23, 2013.
  • King Creole, dir. Michael Curtiz, perf. Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, and Walter Matthau, 1958, DVD, Paramount, 2000.
  • Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1994.
  • Viva Las Elvis: Celebrating The King, compiled by Peggy Thompson, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver, 1994.

References

(1) Elvis In Private, p. 92
(2) Down At The End Of Lonely Street, p. 137
(3) Last Train To Memphis, p. 446
(4) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 129
(5) Last Train To Memphis, p. 450
(6) Last Train To Memphis, p. 456
(7) Elvis Commemorative Edition, p. 112
(8) Last Train To Memphis, p. 451
(9) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 130
(10) Down At The End Of Lonely Street, p. 139
(11) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 131
(12) Elvis: His Life From A To Z, p. 85
(13) Elvis: Still Taking Care Of Business, p. 120
(14) Careless Love, p. 209


My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this month. I often remember her when I watch movies.