ELVIS: HIS BEST FRIEND REMEMBERS
Review by Michael Jacobson
“Diamond” Joe Esposito
Director: Terry Moloney
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: 11 Bonus Chapters
Length: 130 Minutes (total)
Release Date: July 30, 2002
read an article recently that suggested that now, maybe for the first time since
his meteoric rise to super-stardom, Elvis Presley’s popularity seems to be
waning a little. Not that the King
will be wanting for fans anytime soon…the implication was simply that more and
more kids are being born who just don’t have an appreciation for the handsome,
soft-spoken singer who helped place rock and roll on the map.
order to counter that, the article went on, those in charge of the Presley
Estate are making more of an effort to push the King back into the spotlight
with more memorabilia, tributes and information. It’s possible that the new release of Elvis:
His Best Friend Remembers is a part of that new push to turn the
minds of young America back to the Tupelo truck driver who shook up the charts
all through the fifties.
best friend is “Diamond” Joe Esposito, who first met Elvis in the Army.
They were stationed together, became inseparable pals, and after
returning to civilian life, Elvis offered Joe a job working for him.
Mr. Esposito reflects fondly on his years with Elvis as any loyal friend
of the problem is, he’s asked to start Elvis’ story from the beginning, when
he wasn’t THERE for the beginning! The
other part of the problem is, for Elvis fans, his story is so well known that
there really isn’t a whole lot that hasn’t been heard before…most of this
documentary, though well-meaning, isn’t particularly exciting or new, unless
the viewer happens to be new to the world of Elvis Presley.
If he or she is, the pace of this picture might be a bit too slow and
flat to inspire fresh interest.
retrospective is simply too boring a format for a subject matter such as this.
Listening to Esposito is like listening to an older relative
reminisce…it’s not necessarily the stories that are boring, merely the way
the film plows through the King’s career, from his early days of rock and roll
rebellion to his service in the Army, to his comeback, films, Vegas years, and
far too early demise. Priscilla and
Lisa Marie are discussed, as are Elvis’ parents and the infamous Colonel Tom
Parker. And for those who know the
Elvis story well, there aren’t many surprises to be had.
major disappointment: there is an
old television clip of Elvis on stage with Frank Sinatra, about to sing
“Witchcraft”…but we don’t get the song!
How cool would that have been, to hear the Chairman and the King pelting
out that classic bit of crooning together?
who are die hard Elvis fans won’t find this release a waste of time, by any
means, but neither will they find it particularly stimulating.
If the real purpose of this documentary was to try and win a new
generation of fans for the King, I’m afraid the filmmakers are in for a bit of
a let down.
video quality is varying but mostly quite passable…given the nature of the
film, there is plenty of older stock footage incorporated into the mix, which of
course, carries the marks of age a little bit. Most of the modern segments with “Diamond” Joe seem to
have been shot on video, so you don’t quite get the clarity and sharpness of
film, but for the most part, the quiet images render well enough, with good
coloring and tones…not a lot of detail is required or offered.
simple stereo mix is serviceable, again given the varying ages of the clips
used. Dynamic range is minimal, but
dialogue is always clear, and what bits of music are featured here and there are
on the DVD version of this program are 11 bonus chapters, adding about an extra
40 minutes to the total length. Amongst
the more interesting are the world mourning Elvis’ passing, looks at his fans,
auctions, and of course, the impersonators…what would our culture be without