'Elvis Presley And Nancy Sinatra On The SPEEDWAY'
Presented by Joseph A. Tunzi and Paul Lichter
JAT Productions, USA, Hardcover, 2011, 120 pages
Review by EIN, June 2011
In conjunction with super Elvis collector and expert, Paul Lichter, JAT Productions has released another eye catching Elvis photobook; this time focusing on one of the King's lesser remembered films, Speedway.
On The Speedway starts with film details and an essay 'It's Not Always Who Wins The Race', written by Paul Lichter (Elvis Unique), with special thanks to Mike Eder. In the essay, Lichter presents a straightforward and cogent narrative of Elvis' 28th motion picture, its structural elements and stars:
Perhaps the most passionate moment in the movie is when the cameras zoom in showing a giant close-up of the two stars looking lovingly into each other's eyes. Everyone in the theater can feel the connection between Elvis and Nancy.
Nothing is taken too seriously in the complications engendered by this amiable tongue-in-cheek plot particularly since the situations afford ample opportunity for both Elvis and the fetching Miss Sinatra to sing a nunber of ear-tingling tunes.
Lichter nicely draws out key moments in the film including its musical highlights. He also intersperses his narrative with interersting bits of trivia such as co-star Carl Ballantine (best known for his role in the TV comedy, McHale's Navy), being the first magician to headline in Vegas!
The book layout/design was done by Tristan-Elvis Lichter (son of Paul) and as with Tristan-Elvis's earlier design work, is first rate. The page design is effective with clever use of 'checkered flag' pink and white space rather than the customary white space.
Many of the previously unseen and unknown photo images and documents featured were sourced from director, Norman Taurog's private collection (courtesy of his son, Jonathan). Taurog had the distinction of directing more Elvis movies (9) than any other director.
The many images are presented on semi-gloss paper stock and are particularly impressive due to the great page design/framing.
Photo highlights include:
- many great black and white shots from the Speedway cast party;
- Elvis with western star, Dale Robertson (Tales of Wells Fargo; Iron Horse - Dale also makes a cameo appearance in Elvis That's The Way It Is); see below left
- numerous full color publicity stills; and
- rare off-screen images
- Six great photos of the Cast wrap-party (see below right)
As a hardback book, On The Speedway is built to last!
.Please note the pictures in this review are simple low-resolution scans and the images in the book are far clearer.
Complementary material featured in On The Speedway includes various film related documents, images of record releases associated with the film and a great color photo of Elvis and Nancy between takes with Elvis in a state of uninhibited laughter. The chemistry between the two stars is well illustrated by a number of off-screen photos where their respective arms and hands are in 'symbolic' physical contact. A picture tells a thousand words!
A Bonus Extra with On The Speedway is a 5 track CD featuring 4 radio spots and the complete Elvis Press Conference at Fort Dix on his demob from the Army (with Nancy Sinatra).
Is On The Speedway a photojournal or a photobook? If the producers intended it to be the former, they have only partially succeeded. The archival material included (record covers, studio manager reports, etc) is minimalist and had more effort been put into sourcing more such material, the final product would have been stronger.
However, as a photobook, On The Speedway works very well. A greater number of color images would have been welcomed but overall the book is a strong and colorful visual representation of the film.
As always with a Tunzi release, it comes with a hefty price tag and whether or not this represents value for money will be a judgment for each buyer.
One reviewer has compared On The Speedway with the superlative books by Erik Lorentzen. Arguably, this comparison is unfair as it is a case of comparing apples with oranges. A photobook serves a fundamentally different purpose (and inherently has a different value) to a day-by-day/encyclopedic tome.
Overall Verdict: Elvis Presley And Nancy Sinatra On The Speedway is worth more than a look. While not the greatest photobook in the Tunzi or Lichter canons, its array of high quality images from one of Elvis' lesser appreciated films is visually pleasing and necessary. For both the casual buyer and Tunzi and Lichter aficionados, On The Speedway is a delightful release.
Buy "Elvis Presley And Nancy Sinatra On The Speedway"
Read EIN's review of the Tunzi/Lichter collaboration:
Viva Las Vegas
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Coming in September 2011:
If Elvis Presley had been a painter, his canvas would have been Las Vegas. From his first appearance there at the age of twenty-one, to his marriage to Priscilla in 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel, to the annual "Elvis Festivals" of the 1970s, Las Vegas witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of his life. With hundreds of never before-seen photographs of Elvis's Vegas years, this book is the key volume in any Elvis aficionado's collection. In addition to the 375 images published here for the first time, noted expert Paul Lichter has compiled setlists, news clippings, and interviews to fully tell the story of when the King came to Vegas.
Paul Lichter is considered the authority on all things Elvis. He has written twenty bestselling books on Elvis, which have sold millions of copies, making him the most read Elvis author in history. He has also attended over 850 of Elvis's concerts, and runs ElvisUnique.com, featuring Elvis rarities and collectibles.
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