Saturday, July 12, 2014

Masters of Carpentry #8: Elvis (1979)

Our best wishes go out to host Julia Adrock, who's currently recovering from surgery. For any listeners worried about recent delays, we hope to be back to our monthly schedule starting with the next installment.

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A huge thank you to Kevin O'Shea for joining us this episode.

This episode discusses Elvis (1979). IMDb. Wikipedia.

Our theme music is "Black Rainbow" by Jak Locke.

Check out banner artist Benjamin J's DeviantArt page.


Angie Tusa said...

Wow, given the positive reputation this has I was not expecting y'all to dislike it so much.

I think I know the answer to this since none of y'all brought it up, but would any of you consider yourself an Elvis fan? I'm wondering if that would change a person's feelings on it.

NoelCT said...

I know, right? This was often spoken of as one of John's hidden masterpieces, but I wonder how much of that is due to the VHS version being heavily edited down to film length, and the full version taking a very long time (music rights) to be released on DVD. Every since it's come out, I don't hear a lot of chatter about it anymore.

I wouldn't call myself a fan, no. I do like the music and found him a skilled performer, it's just not something I've ever been drawn to seek out. But I see what you mean. Maybe this does play better to someone more deeply invested than it did to us coming in largely as outsiders.

Angie Tusa said...

Netflix is giving me it's wonderful "Very Long Wait" message on availability, but if I am ever able to get a chance to watch I'll let you know what I think. While I'm not a fanatic by any means, I do like him a lot.

Tony Williams said...

Yeah, count me surprised as well. I thought this was pretty much accepted as a "classic"; at least in the made for TV sense. Heck, I remember my friends talking about it when I was growing up. It used to air on TV quite a bit in the 80s, as there was a mini-Elvis revival following the "Is Elvis *really* dead?" hysteria that culminated in TV specials hosted by, of all people, Bill Bixby. Those theories stretched credibility farther than the waistband on Elvis' jumpsuit. Definitely keeping Julia in my thoughts and hope she's doing well.

NoelCT said...

I was wondering about what kind of play it got in the 80s, and am not surprised to see it caught a bit of a second wind on the tails of the Bixby hoopla.

Angie Tusa said...

Having now watched it thanks to Noel lending it to me, I'm afraid being an Elvis fan doesn't really help, or at least didn't help this particular Elvis fan.

I could see a edited down version possibly helping, as the film does just seem to primarily skim over moments of his life without any real enthusiasm. The main theme of the narrative seems to be "Elvis loves his momma (and we mean really loves his momma) and had trouble trusting people because of his fame." And that's all fine and good, but didn't really make me feel anything. Even when things got tense between him and Priscilla, it just wasn't doing a good job of making me feel anything.

I think being an Elvis fan may have almost hurt in some ways too. Because while Robbie Williams does a really good job filling in as Elvis' singing voice, he's still pretty clearly not Elvis. Kurt Russell also did a really great job of mimicking his speaking voice and getting down all the moves and gestures, but he's still not Elvis. Like the Beatles that came after him, Elvis had this truly amazing charm that's hard to define and impossible to completely mimic. There's a reason he was the phenomenon he was and even the most skilled Elvis impersonator is not going to match that.

I can see moments of potential there, but I think one of the main things is that the film can't seem to decide if it wants to portray Elvis the legend or Elvis the man, and never seems to find the right ground in between those two.