16th August 2018 (UK Theatrical Screening)
Elvis Presley has now been out for making movies for many years, now he makes a comeback in 1968.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its original airing, the made-for-TV special Elvis: ’68 Comeback Special gets a theatrical screening and is a fascinating window into the past featuring an iconic musician performing one of the greatest shows of all time.
From 1960 to 1967, Presley had turned his attention from music to movies, starring in 20 films to varying degrees of success. By 1968, Elvis Presley’s claim to the rock ‘n roll throne was in serious doubt, as the genre had seen an enormous eruption with the likes of The Beatles, The Byrds and Rolling Stones overtaking his popularity in his absence.
Feeling it was high time for the King’s comeback, his manager Colonel Tom Parker approached the channel NBC and pitched a show which was much different than the final product – Tom wanted Elvis to feature in a special in which he’d be singing nothing but Christmas songs.
It wasn’t until Executive Producer Bob Finkel and show Director Steve Pinder took the creative decision to have Elvis simply perform the songs he was known for in a musical journey through his career and the rest, as they say, is history.
Taking place in the intimate setting of a TV studio and surrounded by a relatively small group of fans, the Elvis: ’68 Comeback Special spotlights Presley at his most exuberant. It’s widely known that the trademark leg shake was due to nervousness, but there’s no sign of stage fright here. Elvis commands every inch of illuminated white square of a stage with ease as he reminds those in attendance in the millions watching at home why he’s such a star with a setlist and, more importantly, a voice for the ages.
Opening with the 1958 blues song ‘Troubles’ before smoothly crooning ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, Presley then effortlessly transitions into the much more upbeat tracks ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘All Shook Up’. At most concerts, the most well-known songs would usually be reserved for the the last part of the show but for a man like Elvis Presley whose catalogue includes the likes of ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Love Me Tender’ and ”Blue Suede Shoes’, the whole spectacle feels like the strongest of encores. An dance-filled, mid-show Gospel medley expresses his appreciation for that particular music style too and highlights how important it was to the success of his own, while another medley pays tribute to being on the road as well as the acting period of his career.
Far from being a by-the-book recording of a live show, the Elvis: ’68 Comeback Special features frequent interactions from Presley with the crowd and gives the impression of being more of an informal jam session than the make or break occasion it was. In one amusing moment during a usually heartfelt ballad, he forgets the lyrics – and makes sure the audience knows it. In another, he pokes fun at himself and mannerisms when he muses about the way he raises one side of his upper lip. This is clearly a man who was back doing what he enjoyed the most.
The presentation also contains an insightful 20 minute interview conducted by Elvis’ ex-wife Priscilla Presley with director Steve Pinder who reveals a few golden nuggets of information regarding the special’s production and be sure to stick around after the main feature for some truly hilarious outtakes.
In 1964, Bob Dylan sang The Times They are A Changin’. For a while, it appeared that Elvis was to be one of the many casualties of a rapidly altering musical landscape, but thanks to the pivotal ’68 Comeback Special, the King of Rock and Roll proved that he was here to stay.
Elvis: 68’ Comeback Special will be in over 290 UK Cinemas on 16th August. Tickets to your nearest screening of Elvis: 68’ Comeback Special can be found on https://en.fathomrocks.com/
Charismatic and energetic performance from Presley
A pivotal moment of entertainment history