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Elvis Presley Movies

Elvis Concerts

Here are some of Elvis Presley's most memorable concert films. 

Elvis -- That’s the Way It Is

Rather than a narrative feature, Elvis Presley’s 32nd film, Elvis -- That's the Way It Is, is a documentary chronicling his 1970 summer appearance at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Elvis began rehearsals July 5 at the MGM studios in Hollywood, where he worked on his material for about a month. The show opened August 10.

The MGM cameras not only recorded the rehearsals but also opening night, several performances throughout the engagement, and one show at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. The film is structured so that the rehearsals and other scenes of preparation build to an extended climax of Elvis onstage. Dressed in a simple, white jumpsuit, accented with fringe instead of rhinestones and gems, Elvis is showcased at the pinnacle of his career.

Elvis in Elvis -- That's the Way It Is
Elvis Presley during rehearsals as seen in Elvis -- That's the Way It Is.

Behind the Scenes of Elvis -- That's the Way It Is

According to the personal accounts of a couple of Elvis’ buddy-bodyguards, Elvis received a death threat during this engagement at the International in the summer of 1970. A security guard at the hotel was notified on August 26 that Elvis would be kidnapped sometime that night.

Feeling protected by extra security, Elvis chose to perform that night as usual. The next day, Colonel Parker’s office received a similar warning over the phone. Again, Elvis performed that night as usual. On August 28, the wife of Joe Esposito, who was Elvis’s foreman, received another threatening phone call at her home in Los Angeles. She was told that Elvis would be shot in the middle of that night’s show.

With armed bodyguards in the wings, and, according to some, a couple of guns tucked into his costume, Elvis honored that old show business tradition that declares the show must go on. The person or persons responsible for the odious threats were never apprehended.

Elvis On Tour

Elvis in Elvis On Tour
Elvis wouldn't drop his guard, even
backstage, during filming of
Elvis On Tour

The second documentary to capture Elvis in performance focused on his road show. Elvis on Tour chronicled the singer’s extensive 15-city tour in the spring of 1972. The tour started in Buffalo, New York, and came to a rousing conclusion in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Much of the tour centered in the South. In addition to the concert footage of Elvis, the film attempted to reveal the real Elvis Presley backstage and off-guard. A camera followed the singer and his entourage, while Elvis was asked to comment on such topics as his music and his childhood. Elvis on Tour did not present the real Elvis, it only added to the myth that surrounded him.

Despite the filmmakers’ intentions, Elvis would drop no veils. In lieu of a revealing portrait, the filmmakers succeeded in capturing the hectic pace of Elvis’ tour through a montage sequence of cities visited during the tour. A collection of clips from his movies in which Elvis kisses a number of his costars adds a touch of humor.

Behind the Scenes of Elvis On Tour

Costing $600,000 to produce (not including Elvis’ fee of $1 million), Elvis on Tour recouped its production costs after three days in the theaters. Documentaries are rarely major box-office draws, but this film was a financial success. Critically acclaimed as well, Elvis on Tour won a Golden Globe as the Best Documentary of 1972. Elvis himself kept track of the awards ceremony the evening the Golden Globes were passed out, and he shouted with pride when the film won.

Much of the creative success of the film was due to its effective editing style, which relied on a split-screen technique to convey the excitement of Elvis in concert. Multiple images of Elvis performing were shown simultaneously on the screen. The series of scenes from Elvis’ movies plus the succession of clips of the different cities visited on the tour also depended on precise editing for its visual impact. In charge of these montage sequences was a young filmmaker named Martin Scorsese.

Elvis in Elvis -- That's the Way It Is
Elvis in Elvis -- That's the Way It Is.

Songs Featured in Elvis -- That's the Way It Is

  • Mystery Train/Tiger Man
  • Words
  • The Next Step Is Love
  • Polk Salad Annie
  • Crying Time
  • That’s All Right (Mama)
  • Little Sister
  • What’d I Say
  • Stranger in the Crowd
  • How the Web Was Woven
  • I Just Can’t Help Believin’
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
  • Mary in the Morning
  • I’ve Lost You
  • Patch It Up
  • Love Me Tender
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Get Back
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • One Night
  • Blue Suede Shoes
  • All Shook Up
  • Suspicious Minds
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love

Elvis in Elvis On Tour.
Famous Elvis image from Elvis On Tour.

Songs Featured in Elvis On Tour

  • Johnny B. Goode
  • See See Rider
  • Polk Salad Annie
  • Separate Ways
  • Proud Mary
  • Never Been to Spain
  • Burning Love
  • That’s All Right (Mama)
  • Lead Me, Guide Me
  • Bosom of Abraham
  • Love Me Tender
  • Until It’s Time for You to Go
  • Suspicious Minds
  • I, John
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Funny How Time Slips Away
  • An American Trilogy
  • Mystery Train
  • I Got a Woman/Amen
  • A Big Hunk o’ Love
  • You Gave Me a Mountain
  • Lawdy Miss Clawdy
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Memories
  • Lighthouse (sung by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet)
  • Sweet Sweet Spirit (sung by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet)

Credits for Elvis -- That's the Way It Is

  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Produced by Herbert F. Soklow
  • Directed by Denis Sanders
  • Photographed by Lucien Ballard
  • Edited by Henry Berman
  • Elvis’ wardrobe by Bill Belew
  • Musicians with Elvis: James Burton, Glen Hardin, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, and John Wilkinson
  • Orchestra conducted by Joe Guercio

Credits for Elvis On Tour

  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Produced and directed by Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel
  • Photographed by Robert Thomas
  • Musicians with Elvis: James Burton, Charlie Hodge, Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin, Jerry Scheff, and John Wilkinson
  • Orchestra conducted by Joe Guercio
  • Background vocals by Kathy Westmoreland, The Sweet Inspirations, and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet
  • Opening act by Jackie Kahane
  • Edited by Ken Zemke
  • Montage supervised by Martin Scorsese
  • Research by Andrew Solt, Carole Kismaric, and Jack Goelman
  • Elvis’ wardrobe by Bill Belew
To learn more about Elvis Presley, see: