Jumpsuits worn on 'Elvis On Tour'
(Pictures shown are from various concerts
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Elvis – On
winner for Best Documentary Film of 1972 had producer/directors
Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel following Elvis on his first tour
of 1972, filming over 50 hours of footage both onstage and
behind the scenes. The tour saw Elvis complete 19 shows in 15
different cities in 15 days “And he wasn’t even running for
President” (Jackie Kahane). This was to be Elvis’ 33rd
and final film. Although it never quite reaches the heights of
the monumental “That’s the Way It Is” (TTWII), it gives us a
unique insight into Elvis’ frenetic life, and about as close to
an autobiographical film of The King that we could ever hope to
himself does not really look like the man in TTWII. He looks
like a man who was shell shocked from the breakdown of his
marriage. His pale, dishevelled appearance is not unlike someone
who’s had a heavy session in the bar the night before. Putting
that aside Elvis on stage is electrifying. Each performance is
on a level most other entertainers could only hope to reach at
their peak, something Elvis wasn’t at this point of his life.
For me “Proud Mary”, “Never Been to Spain”, “Bridge over
Troubled Waters” and the phenomenal “American Trilogy” really
standout. Even a throwaway “Love Me Tender” is better than
anything from Elvis’ last season in Vegas, December ’76.
selection in ‘On Tour seems strange, the reason being is that
the songs released on Elvis – The Lost Performances, are
superior and would be better suited in the original ‘On Tour’
film, more so than some of those which made the final cut. A
good example is “How Great Thou Art”; who decided it would be
better that “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” proceeded “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”?
Who decreed that an emotionally raw, straight version of “Are
You Lonesome Tonight” would have less of an impact than “Funny,
How Times Slips Away”? And why, like “Words” in TTWII do they
not show a full version of “For the Good Times”? Another
curiosity of mine is why doesn’t “Also, Sprach Zarathustra”
sound like we know it to sound from backstage?
record the shows officially filmed were those in Hampton Roads
Richmond (10/4), Charlotte (13/4), Greensboro (14/4) and San
Antonio (18/4), although it is rumoured that Adidge did
personally film the show in Buffalo (5/4) to get an idea on how
to direct the cameramen to capture Elvis’ best moves.
the scenes footage is brief but it seems to fit well within the
I imagine that Adidge and Abel had known about TTWII and
realised that rehearsal and studio footage had been covered
extensively already. Also upon viewing the footage they knew
that they didn’t have the same Elvis to match the quality of
TTWII. In any case this was of a tour in progress and too much
time spent showing studio clips would have taken the edge off
the pace of the film.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Gospel segment, even though Elvis
looked worse here than in most of the Elvis in Concert footage.
It did come across to me that it was the only time Elvis seemed
at ease with himself in the whole film and I could have just
watched that whole session in its entirety. Surely, seeing
Elvis’ performing “Nearer My God to Thee” makes better viewing
than Jerry Scheff’s weather forecast.
has seen “This Is Elvis” and can lip read, clearly understands
why they couldn’t show too much of the in car and backstage
footage in its original release!
intriguing aspect of the film is the interviews of Vernon and
Elvis himself, giving it along with randomly planted footage of
Elvis in ’56/57 that biographical feel. Both related stories of
the early days and how Elvis became, well Elvis.
We know that
the interview with Elvis became quite in depth and revealed more
about his side of the story than in any other interview. I’m
also sure I’ve seen grainy film of the actual interview itself,
so, why wasn’t it used in the film and where is it now?
current owner of EPE (Sillerman) contemplating making an
official biographical film of Elvis, why not buy and re-visit
all 50 hours of unused footage, including interviews, filmed for
this project. Because who else could tell the Elvis story better
already know the Estate doesn’t want the general public to know
Elvis existed past January 1973, so they could add the Aloha
interviews and concert clips and be done with it.
film in 2010 reveals how dated it has become. With it being
released for the first time on DVD, you would hope Turner who
owns the film would update it in more ways than just
digitalising it. Re-editing ‘On Tour’ now using more on stage
footage with a better flow to the song line up; putting in all
the bits that may have been deemed detrimental to Elvis in 1972
but tame by modern day standards, would give it the extra edge
that it seems to lose in middle. It could be viewed as the first
ever “reality”, “fly on the wall”, “warts and all” film of a top
celebrity if it was given the right treatment.
does sound like this will not happen due to ownership issues.
Even so, come its release in late 2010 I know I will buy it with
a feeling of it is good, but could be so much better if someone
Five shows were shot for the film:-
- Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY, April
- The Coliseum, Hampton Roads, Virginia,
April 9, 1972 Evening Show
- The Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia, April
- The Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina,
April 14, 1972 Evening Show
- Convention Centre, San Antonio, Texas,
April 18, 1972