Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 3 - ELVIS ON TOUR (1972)

- Rated G but the King says "damn" once.
- Starring = Elvis Presley
- Directed by Robert Abel & Pierre Adidge
- Running time: 1hr 33min.

(The 31 Day Movie Challenge was proposed to me by fellow film critic Jessie Hoheisel (from superawesomemovieblog). We each chose 30 films for each other to review for the month of May. The first film chosen will be from 1970. The second film from 1971... and so on. The last day will be a film from 2000. I accepted the challenge!)

If I'm being honest, I have never really been a fan of Elvis.  Sure, I may have tapped my toes to a few of his tunes, but I consider him more of a cultural icon than a musical genius.  I have never owned any of his albums, and have only seen one of his movies.  So just bear in mind that I was not the audience for this one.

This is a pretty straight forward Documentary that shows several performances from Elvis during his 15-day American tour in 1972.  Presented in widescreen and using the same split screen technique that was used in WOODSTOCK (both movies had Martin Scorsese as a supervising editor), it certainly has a visual energy.  In between songs, we also get a glimpse of The King backstage and in the recording studio laying down some tracks.  In theory, this should have been a knock out film: "A rare glimpse of a legend as we see him perform his heart out with revealing backstage footage!".  But this isn't that film.

It all starts with Elvis' on stage performance.  Frankly, I found it to be a bit lazy.  Most of the time, he paces up and down the stage, limply holding his mic as he mumbles through his songs, sometimes skipping words.  Occasionally, out of the blue, he would snap into it and really deliver (showing off his talent), but never for a whole song, usually just a small portion of it.  Though his rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water is a highlight.  During the show, it was fun to watch swooning women beg for kisses and getting them, but it also scared me just how crazy his fans were.  During the sequence while he was kissing his fans, it is edited with film clips of all of Elvis' kissing scenes from his films.  That was kind of funny. 

The movie is most interesting when it focuses on his fame.  Backstage, Elvis was not so sure of himself, as he admits to stage fright.  He comes across lonely and detached.  Unfortunately, that's how he seems on stage too.  He doesn't seem like he wants to be there, seemingly showing little effort.  And that was surprising since in the first few minutes, he says that he wants to perform the best for his fans, since this will most likely be the only time they'll see him.  He wanted it to be fresh, but it came across like a man who was burnt out from touring.

It's not bad, but I want a concert movie to exhilarate me.  Instead, I was more interested learning about Elvis and seeing how fame effected his life.  There are only a few glimpses of this however, so it never really gets as intimate as it could've been.  Again, this movie wasn't made for me.  Fans of Elvis Presley will without a doubt enjoy it.  I just found it to be so-so.  The filmmaking was energetic and visually interesting to look at.  Presley's performance was not.

**1/2 (out of ****)

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