DVD Review: "Elvis His Best Friend Remembers"

"Diamond" Joe surprises with varied and interesting DVD release

When I first watched this DVD release I wasn't expecting too much. Over the years we have been treated to numerous documentaries from or featuring 'Diamond Joe' Esposito.

However my initial expectations quickly subsided and I was pleasantly surprised by both the content of this DVD and its first rate production values.

There are 24 regular chapters and 11 bonus chapters. All chapters are reasonably short, but not too short, and this certainly helps maintain viewer interest.

The 24 regular chapters include a look at the Army years, Jailhouse Rock, a far too brief and superficial look at Colonel Parker, Elvis and Linda Thompson, Aloha from Hawaii and Elvis' last vacation. The documentary includes good video coverage of Elvis and Priscilla's Vegas wedding and an interesting look at security arrangements for an Elvis concert.

There is also Joe's emotional recollection of the events on August 16, 1977 in which he dispels some of the myths in Elvis lore surrounding that tragic day. The bonus chapters include a poignant look at reaction to Elvis' death, the annual Candlelight Vigil in Memphis and Elvis buys a Chimp! The section on Elvis impersonators didn't impress while the 'world's biggest Elvis fan', Paul B. Macleod, is just passable.

A chapter on the 'world's nuttiest Elvis fan' has to be seen to be believed. While a lot of the information provided is not new, Joe offers plenty of little known stories that add appreciably to one's knowledge of The King.

The absence of any Elvis music in the documentary does not weaken the release. Rather its' tight editing and interesting vignettes are so well crafted that they quickly draw you in and the 130 minutes viewing time passes before you know it. The editing of the documentary is excellent keeping each chapter short and punchy.

Many of the chapters start with Joe talking about the vignette followed by relevant video footage and interviews and this structural device is very effective.

The video quality is very good with nice tone and colour blend. The audio quality is equally strong and easy to listen to.

'Elvis: His Best Friend Remembers' stands up very well against other current documentary releases such as' The Definitive Elvis' (on which Diamond Joe was executive consultant) and 'Elvis The Great Performances'.

Verdict: A surprise, quality offering worthy of a place in any fan's collection.

DVD Features: Dual layer disc Subtitles Language options: English, Spanish and French Dolby digital 2.0 stereo Aspect 1.33:1 Picture disc

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, EIN June 2002