Private Elvis - The Missing Years
Every now and then an interesting release comes out. Recently this DVD has been released, and it might be one of those interesting releases. Let's have a closer look on private 53310761 during his "army years".
The cover is a nice shot of Elvis in the field. It matches the content of this release perfectly. The menu has a publicity shot of Elvis in 1957 with three menu items, the movie, an audio documentary and animated classics.
One of the things we really miss is one of the good things that came with the DVD-format, the scene selection, you can only skip through the chapters, which more or less represents the locations where Elvis spent his army years.
The booklet that comes with this release is a nice one. It has a lot of images of Elvis, most of them used before in books on Elvis' army years, but for a DVD release it's the most complete booklet we saw so far.
The two year Elvis spent in the army make up the storyline of this release which is presented as a documentary, including interviews with friends and other privates, who served with him. Starting with his induction into the army until his discharge we follow Elvis during these 'missing" years of his well documented life. We see a lot of complete footage of which smaller snippets were available before, in the right chronological order.
Besides a lot of "official" material of private 53310761 the interesting parts of this release is the home made footage of Elvis. We haven't seen it before this complete. We see him relaxing with friends, kissing with Anita Wood (?), on leave in Paris and so on.
It's a pity the makers didn't stop with Elvis' return from Germany, since the material of the post army years that is included is of poor quality. E.g. the Graceland Press Conference (1960) is available in much better quality elsewhere. The race through Elvis' latter years, his marriage, divorce and death spoils the fun a bit, since it doesn't fit the main part and is overall of very poor quality.
During the documentary we hear Johnny Earl sing a lot of Elvis-like songs. Since the volume is low, it's not disturbing and some songs make a good background for the content.
The audio documentary is interesting since it is a told story with original audio in between. The "animated classics" is a commercial for other Waterfall releases but have nothing to do with Elvis (unfortunately).
The set also contains a CD with several interviews around Elvis' army years with Hayride Recordings in between. It's a nice diversion from the "talking" but they don't fit into the theme of this release.
The documentary is fun, with great footage. Unfortunately the image quality is not always good, sometimes understandable because of the source (old footage), but with the "new" material it is very strange, sometimes it looks like a poor VCD.