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THE SEARCHER...A FANS REVIEW
March 21,  2018   -   The Pheonix Forum   /   Elvis Info Net  /   Elvis Express Radio
On the excellent Phoenix Elvis Forum, one very lucky fan has had the chance to watch the eagerly awaited HBO documentary 'ELVIS PRESLEY: THE SEARCHER and we thought
you would like to see what they have thought of this new project....

'THE SEARCHER - I've seen it and I liked it, but . . .
by Jukebox » Sun Mar 18, 2018

Well, I enjoyed my complimentary viewing of Elvis Presley: The Searcher in Graceland's state-of-the-art theater at The Guest House on Saturday afternoon. I'll simply start out by
saying that I liked it, but I'm afraid it's not going to satisfy every Elvis fan to the fullest.

I personally give it 4 out of 5 stars... very good, but not excellent.

The following are things of interest that I made note of as the movie played . . .

Positives:
1. All interviews or voice-overs were done without showing the faces of those speaking.

2. Commentary from Red West was scattered throughout the documentary, which means that Priscilla obviously thought enough of his firsthand accounts to include him in the
documentary. There was nothing mentioned about the book Elvis-What Happened? ... a positive for sure.

3. I liked the way they went from the 1950s to the '68 Comeback Special with some effective splicing... especially with the song "That's All Right".

4. The '68 Comeback Special was sort of a centerpiece of the documentary.

5. Albums that were highlighted in a positive light were...
Elvis Presley ; Peace In The Valley (EP) ; Elvis Is Back! ; His Hand In Mine ; How Great Thou Art ; From Elvis In Memphis

6. Some color home movies of Sam Phillips at play from the 1950s were shown... at a beach and such.

7. Some of Elvis' 1950s voice-overs were new to my ears, which was a pleasant surprise!

Both versions of "Lonely Man" were used back-to-back in the movie. It started out with the master recording lasting about a minute +
and then they smoothly transitioned with a splice to the solo version lasting about another 1 minute or so.

They showed some unreleased footage from the Elvis On Tour mock sessions/rehearsals... "Burning Love" and "Separate Way".

They used some unreleased close-up footage (from his chest up) in very good condition of Elvis performing "An American Trilogy" from 1973 (or '74) showing mostly the second half
of the performance. The footage might have been from Las Vegas in August or early September 1973...
Freeze at the 1:53 mark to see the footage I'm referring to (with red scarf) >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qULBo4iPV8M

Negatives:
1. The producer lead the unknowing viewer to believe that Graceland was the first house/home that Elvis bought. There was no mention of the Audubon Drive house in east
Memphis. While the narrator was talking about Elvis' purchase of Graceland, they were actually showing several photos from the Audubon Drive home. Any knowing Elvis fan would
quickly pick up on that.

2. It was stated in the movie that Elvis never played a concert outside of the United States. No mention of Canada 1957.

3. In the early section of Part 2, they made reference to Flaming Star and Wild In The Country as movies that "lost money". I don't think that's accurate. They may not have been the
box office successes that G.I. Blues and Blue Hawaii were, but "money losers"? I don't think so.
They showed a quick image of a Flaming Star poster (bare chested Elvis holding a rifle) and had that screen-lettered as "Wild In The Country".
They then quickly showed an image of a Wild In the Country poster (image of Elvis about to kiss Hope Lange) as "Flaming Star".

4. They made the mistake of only saying that Colonel Parker wanted a Christmas song included in the 1968 NBC-TV Special. In truth, which they didn't hit on, was that Colonel
Parker originally wanted the entire show to be a Christmas special. I was disappointed with their oversight on that crucial issue. It was during a segment focused on what a
tough/unreasonable manager Parker could often be.

5. In Part 2 when making reference to the Aloha From Hawaii tv special, they only showed footage from the rehearsal show... "You Gave Me a Mountain" was highlighted, but the
entire performance wasn't shown.

If my memory serves me correctly the only songs they played in their entirety without any interruptions from voice-overs were "Crawfish" in Part 1, and "Hurt" & "If I Can Dream" near
the end of Part 2. I suppose the forthcoming 3-cd set is for complete songs. ;)

One disappointment was that they only showed about 4 seconds of Elvis with Sam Phillips in Memphis from 1961.

Of great significance...
The focus of the documentary by the producers was to attempt to give an honest overview and evaluation of Elvis' musical career.

They clearly wanted the viewers to know that Elvis' artistic decline in the mid-1960s was not due to lack of talent, but due to some awkward/poor decision-making by him and his
manager Colonel Tom Parker.

One thing they made clear near the beginning of Part 2 (1960) was that Elvis was now in uncharted territory concerning what direction a rock-n-roller's career should take in order to
keep him on top after being away in the military for almost 2 years.

They also wanted the viewers to know that his decline in the mid-1970s wasn't from lack of talent on his part. Therefore, I feel that they did the right thing by letting it be known that
Elvis' addiction to prescription medication played a major role in his personal outlook & unconventional decision-making during the last few years of his life..
.
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