Elvis: That’s the Way It Is Review
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While another recent re-release, This is Elvis, tells the life story of The King, Elvis: That’s the Way It Is shows the king in action. This documentary, originally filmed in 1970 (and reworked and re-edited in 2001) gives fans more of an idea of what Elvis Presley was really like.

In this two-disc special edition, Elvis: That’s the Way It Is is presented in both the original and re-edited versions—the newer of which is actually shorter than the original, cutting down on some of the interviews and focusing more on Elvis himself.

The film is part concert recording, part behind-the-scenes documentary. It shows Elvis in recording sessions in LA, playfully joking around with his band. It shows him rehearsing with his backup singers in Las Vegas, working out the kinks of his upcoming stage performances. And it shows opening night of The King’s shows in Vegas at the International. While Elvis hangs out with his crew backstage, preparing for the performance, crowds of famous fans—from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Charo to George Hamilton—arrive for the show. And, finally (and for the majority of the film), Elvis takes the stage, performing for a ballroom full of screaming fans.

Elvis: That’s the Way It Is is an eye-opening film, showing one of the most larger-than-life performers as a down-to-earth, fun-loving guy. And even though he’s dressed in his signature flashy jumpsuit on stage, a part of that shines through. He jokes around with the audience. He signs autographs mid-show. And he somehow manages to kiss just about every single woman in the audience. While watching this film, it’s not hard to understand why, 30 years after his death, Elvis still has millions of loyal fans around the world—because not only was he a great musician and a spectacular performer, but, underneath all the bling and the jumpsuits, he was just the boy next door. He was loyal to his friends, and he loved his fans. And he loved his mama.

If you prefer the younger, earlier “Hound Dog” Elvis—as my mom and I do—you might be somewhat disappointed to find that this jump-suited 1970 Elvis is a little rougher around the edges. And you might also be disappointed by the shortage of special features (or at least special features that don’t involve lots of reading). But watching Elvis: That’s the Way It Is is still a fascinating experience—and a great chance to see The King in action at the height of his career.

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