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Waterfall Home Entertainment presents
Elvis: The Journey (2002)

"I think half of Elvis died when she died."
- Elvis Presley's friend Eddie Fadal, on the death of Elvis's mother, Gladys

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: July 30, 2003

Stars: Elvis Presley
Other Stars: Vernon Presley, Gladys Presley Colonel Tom Parker, Priscilla Presley
Director: Frank Silver

Manufacturer: PDM
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:03m:51s
Release Date: June 17, 2003
UPC: 805203301394
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+C+C C

DVD Review

I guess the thinking is that you can never have too much Elvis, but even those of us who are fans of the King and his music can sense when a new Presley product offers something new, and when it's just a warmed-over repackaging of what we've seen before. There's nothing terrible or particularly exploitative about this set, but it's an odd hodgepodge of Elvis scraps, sort of a cut-and-paste effort to make hay with Presley on DVD.

The feature runs just over an hour, and offers a pretty standard run through the facts of Elvis's early years—born in Tupelo, raised in Memphis, the overnight success of his first hit single, That's All Right, Mama, on the legendary Sun Records label. There are a couple of great little tidbits—for instance, one of Elvis's favorite radio stations was WDAI, which played music by black musicians, and one of the most prominent D.J.s there was B.B. King. Mostly, though, there's a narration track that runs along at an alarmingly fast clip, full of facile observations: Elvis "said 'please and 'thank you' like an honor roll student," and his music "spoke directly to the suppressed desire of teenage America." (Also, the narrator has a pronunciation problem with Presley's birthplace—it's TOO-puh-low, not TUH-puh-low.) If you're even casually familiar with the facts of Presley's early years, you won't find anything new here.

What is noteworthy, though, and the best thing in the documentary, is the early television footage of Presley performing. There are full versions of him singing Shake, Rattle and Roll, Baby Let's Play House, Tutti Frutti, Money Honey, and Heartbreak Hotel (twice). The film quality is shaky, scratched and grainy, but this is vintage stuff, pulsing with the energy of Elvis's early records.

A disproportionate amount of time is devoted to Presley's time in the Army, perhaps because some of his military buddies are the only ones who sat for interviews. With less than ten minutes remaining, Elvis meets Priscilla, and then it's a quick whirlwind through Presley's last twenty years; this whip from discharge to death bears a suspicious similarity to that on Elvis: The Missing Years.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: You take what you can get on a clip job like this, and of course the bits of archival footage vary in quality. The transfer to DVD is adequate, though the colors seem a little muddied.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The PCM track is VERY VERY LOUD, which only exposes its limitations—hiss, crackle and pop can be heard throughout, but Elvis sounds fair enough in the ancient kinescopes.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. accompanying audio CD
  2. booklet featuring photos and an Elvis bio
  3. Elvis Presley discography
  4. photo gallery
Extras Review: An accompanying audio CD (42m:55s) unfortunately doesn't contain any music; it's a series of radio and promotional interviews with Presley conducted over a number of years, and mildly interesting at best. Presley gets asked such hard-hitting questions as "Elvis, how do you like Houston?" and "What's the Pat Boone situation with you?" The earlier ones are the best, with Presley promoting his appearances on the Louisiana Hayride and the Hillbilly Hit Parade, and featuresone radio announcer vouching for a young performer with whom Presley will be sharing the bill: "Johnny Cash may be kind of new to the folks around Texarkana, but I know you're gonna like him."

An accompanying booklet is splashed with photos and offers an essay that doesn't contribute much; the same ground is covered even more quickly in the Presley biography on the DVD. A photo gallery offers ten stills, and the Presley discography gives the track listings and recording dates for many of Elvis's albums.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The performance footage in this odd little grab bag of Elvis arcana makes this one worth a look, but it's not an essential item in any Presley fan's collection.


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