Elvis-That’s the Way it is (PG) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Denis Sanders, USA, 1970, 97 mins

Cast: Elvis Presley, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, John Wilkinson

Review by Carlie Newman

FOR ONE DAY ON: 13 AUGUST – this is the one night only that you can see the re-mastered Elvis-That’s the Way it is. The film celebrates 50 years since this documentary and concert footage of the acknowledged ‘King of Rock ‘n Roll’ was released in 1970. It follows Elvis Presley’s summer festival in Las Vegas.

If you like Elvis Presley, you will enjoy the film. If you adore ‘the King’ then you will truly love this documentary. This is a re-mastered version of the 1970 backstage documentary and film of the series of legendary concerts Elvis Presley gave in July/August 1970 after almost a decade away from the concert stage.

Here we see Elvis in his prime: slim, dressed all in white with a high collar, open down his chest, sweating and giving his all – both vocally and physically. There is interesting footage of him rehearsing with his band of four in the recording studio: Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, John Wilkinson and James Burton. Elvis jokes and fools around but he takes the music seriously and we hear the full power of his voice even in rehearsals. He and his band work hard rehearsing many of Elvis’ famous songs. Separately we see the background vocalists rehearsing to Elvis’ recordings. Then the two lots come together to rehearse on the main stage.

We can feel the excitement as we watch the long queues form to buy tickets and then enter the International Hotel where the concerts are staged. The front of the auditorium has dining tables set out. The star-studied audience included many well-known celebrities including Juliet Prowse, Sammy Davis Jnr, Cary Grant, George Hamilton and Roman Polanski.

Filmed over six shows, we see Elvis as though he is live in front of us. Wearing different white suits but all of a similar design, he interacts with his audiences. He kisses females of all ages from small girls to grannies. Belting out great songs, we hear Presley singing Blue Suede Shoes, Falling in Love with You, Love Me Tender, Hound Dog.

This is mainly a film showcasing Elvis’ concerts in 1970. He comes across as most polite, saying thank you for everything – stuff given or thrown at him! We can no longer see Elvis Presley live, but this movie is the next best thing. We can hope for some encore screenings, but for now 13 August is the global theatrical release date and your one night only chance! Not to be missed!