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USA 1979
Directed by
John Carpenter
170 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Elvis (1979)

Anyone hoping for some deliciously kitsch travesty in this John Carpenter/Kurt Russell outing would be sorely disappointed. Elvis, which on its broadcast debut on Feb. 11, 1979, was one of the highest rated made-for-television movies ever shown is a diligent but quite dull telling of the life of The King that at 170 mins feels interminable.

Former child actor, Russell (his film debut had been in the Presley movie, It Happened at the World's Fair when he was 10 years old) in his first collaboration with Carpenter, does a first class job of mimicking Elvis although, at least from this temporal point of view, now that he is such a well-known actor, one cannot shake off the awareness that it is Kurt Russell. Probably also one of the problems dogging this film is that Elvis’s legend, from Tupelo shack to L.A. toilet bowl, is one of the most documented in rock history and the film plods through it with hagiographic diligence, ending in 1969 just before he began his descent into the blimphood so beloved of parodists.

Shelley Winters is particularly annoying as Elvis' mother, Gladys, whilst. Bing Russell, Kurt’s real-life father plays Elvis' dad, Vernon. Ronnie McDowell provides that singing voice of Elvis, something which may not be as satisfying as the real thing but which manages to be the best thing about a movie which is best suited to either Presley fanatics or those who know nothing about him.




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