This Is Elvis
|This Is Elvis|
|Produced by||David L. Wolper|
|Edited by||Glenn Farr|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$2 million (US)|
This Is Elvis is a 1981 documentary film written and directed by Andrew Solt and Malcolm Leo, based on the life of Elvis Presley. It combined archival footage with reenactments, and voice-over narration by pop singer Ral Donner, imitating Presley's speaking voice. It was screened out of competition at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. The film grossed $2 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, ranking #92 for 1981.
For the reenactment scenes, Presley was portrayed in the film by four actors:
- Paul Boensch II as Presley at age 10 (Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1946)
- David Scott as Presley at age 18 (Memphis in 1953, singing in high school, and at a Sun recording session; vocals by [David Scott])
- Dana MacKay as Presley at age 35
- Johnny Harra as Presley at age 42 (Opening credits, August 16, 1977 death scene from extended version)
Other narrators provided voice-over narrations for Vernon Presley, Gladys Presley, and Priscilla Presley. Presley's former road manager Joe Esposito and girlfriend Linda Thompson provided their own narrations. Presley receives credit only in the extended version prepared for cable and later home video release.
RCA Records released a two-disc soundtrack album for the film in 1981, featuring the first official release of several of Presley's 1950s television appearances as well as other previously unreleased performances. The soundtrack was certified Gold on August 6, 2002 by the RIAA.
A two-disc DVD set of the film was released on August 7, 2007 commemorating the 30th anniversary of Presley's death. Disc 1 features the original version shown in theaters, Disc 2 includes the extended version with 45 extra minutes of footage.
This Is Elvis is the only Presley movie produced and released by Warner Brothers. Warner Bros. also currently owns other titles with Presley via purchasing Turner Entertainment, including Presley's Metro Goldwyn Mayer films and National General Pictures' Charro!.
In a contemporary review, Variety wrote, "A real curiosity item, This Is Elvis is a fast-paced gloss on Presley's life and career packed with enough fine music and unusual footage to satisfy anyone with an interest in the late singing idol." Though he criticized the reenactment scenes, Ian Jane of DVD Talk called it "a pretty essential release for fans".