Monday, September 17, 2007
With the welcome arrival of the last few remaining unreleased Elvis Presley films on dvd now out, one has to ask the question, where is the Golden Globe award winning 1972 documentary ELVIS ON TOUR? This moving and penetrating look into Elvis’ world is one of the most essential documents on the man ever released and yet it continues to remain missing in action on Region One disc. The thirtieth anniversary of Elvis’ tragic passing, not to mention the 35th anniversary of the film itself, seemed like the perfect time for its release, but there are still no definitive plans for it.
The film, directed by award winning filmmakers Robert Abel and Pierre Adidge, documents Elvis at one of the most pivotal moments in his life and features some of the most intense and personal moments he ever shared with the public. Featuring portions from one of the most extraordinary sit down interviews he ever gave, along with some of the most volatile and searing concert footage ever shot, ELVIS ON TOUR is a raging and moving film that should have been on dvd long ago.
With it’s cutting edge split screen montages (overseen by none other that young filmmaker Martin Scorsese right around the time he shot the great BOXCAR BERTHA and just before MEAN STREETS) and unflinching looks at an increasingly exhausted Elvis, the film is a fast moving whirlwind of a documentary that Chronicles a man burning, still very brightly, at both ends. Hardcore fans will of course know of the hours of outtake footage that is currently on the collectors market, and seeing that material makes the unavailability of a fully loaded up box set special edition of the film even more frustrating.
Originally released in November of 1972 with the rumored live album called STANDING ROOM ONLY failing to accompany it, ELVIS ON TOUR received mostly positive reviews and did very well for a concert film. After being ignored critically for most of his movie career, I have always wondered what Elvis must have felt when the film did indeed share the Golden Globe that year for best documentary. The film was even more successful in Europe, and specifically Asia, where they were yearning to see Elvis live on stage. It is worth noting that the worldwide broadcast of ALOHA FROM HAWAII would be taped shortly after the film started to make such waves in Japan during the Christmas of 72.
While it is arguable whether or not this film is the equal of 1970’s THAT’S THE WAY IT IS, what is not in question is that we are given the opportunity to see Elvis at an increasingly vulnerable point in his life and for all its strengths, THAT’S THE WAY IT IS doesn’t have the devastating emotional impact of ELVIS ON TOUR.
I urge everyone to sign the ELVIS ON TOUR DVD petition at:
At this point even a crisp bare bones presentation of just the film would be most welcome but what we really need is a multi disc presentation with the input of Abel, Adidge and Scorsese, three men who worked incredibly hard and diligently on this film back in 72 to make it as real and memorable as they could. They succeeded in capturing one of our great artists at one of his peaks and delivered a really special film that very much needs to be back in the public eye.