Priscilla Presley's memoir, Elvis & Me, topped best selling book charts around the world. The TV adaption stays true to what Elvis wrote in conjunction with Sandra Harmon. The mini-series tells their story from Priscilla's "viewpoint" as is her right. It includes many interesting stories and emotions:
Elvis & Me neatly avoids the scandalous implications of a 24 year-old sex symbol having a relationship with a 14 year-old school girl. There are also a number of confronting scenes. The uncompromising "rape" incident was largely responsible for the ire of many female fans in 1988 and it remains a powerful scene today.
The dichotomy between the two leads could be controversial. The Elvis character is quite unsympathetic, at times being male chauvenist and domineering. in contrast, Priscilla's character is very much the love struck, manipulated young girl trying to come to terms with a world very foreign to her upbringing. You are often left wondering why Priscilla contrinued to love Elvis. Only in the final scenes do we really feel sympathy with a Elvis as we realise the extent of his internal vulnerability and unhappiness.
These ongoing, direct and underlying textual themes are true to Priscilla's book, and there is also a strong element of the important communication that occurred between the two lovers, one of two principal elements in the development of their relationship. The mini-series well portrays the absence of real communication between the two in the 1970s.
The use of actual home video footage throughout the mini-series is interesting and surprisingly it doesn't jar, given the series is predominately an acted dramatisation.
The acting is acceptable without being outstanding. A hackneyed script makes it difficult for the leads (and the director, Larry Preece) to really get going. Dale Midkiff is a good actor (and at times you can imagine Elvis) but the way his role is drawn makes it difficult for him. For the same reason, Susan Walters fares a lot better. Midkiff is restricted by ridiculous looking sideburns for the 1970s scenes.
There are various examples of "journalistic licence" throughout the mini-series and while most of these are minor, at least one, how Lisa finds out about the death of her father, is manipulative of the audience. The role of the Memphis Mafia is always backgrounded although in reality this was not the case.
One factor which lifts the series is its great 1950s-60s soundtrack, including of course numerous Elvis recordings (well sung by Ronnie McDowell).
The end montage of actual photo stills of Elvis and Priscilla in happier times is unsettlingly at odds with the overall tenor of the mini-series.
Running time: 187 mins (approx.)
Scene selection for both parts of the mini-series
Imperfection: Our disc froze in one spot. This required fast forwarding to restart (a minor concern)
Verdict: Fact, fiction or a blend of both? You be the judge. However, as an "unofficial" DVD record of this "lost" piece of Elvis history, the edition we viewed was more than acceptable. Elvis & Me was much maligned on its initial release but in 2005 stands up surprisingly well despite some obvious flaws and biases. Worth a "critical" look while we wait for the definitive "Elvis" story on film.
PR for the video release of "Elvis & Me"
Once upon a time, not so long ago, ther lived a KING. His name was Elvis. ELVIS and ME is his story. Taken from the bestselling memoirs of his wife and former lover, Priscilla Presley, it is an insider's story. An unflinching, intimate, and sometimes scandalous portrait of the greatest entertainer of our time-- and the woman who loved. From the Mississippi Delta to the Las Vegas Ballrooms, from Graceland to the inner circle of the rock and roll empire, ELVIS and ME traces the most meteoric rise to stardom the world has ever known. But there was also another Elvis. The private Elvis. The Elvis that wanted to create, in Priscilla, the perfect woman-- a blend of hot sexuality and pristine innocence, of spunkiness and submission. It is the hidden Elvis that we are finally given a glimpse of. The Generosity, the victories, the almost fatherly warmth AND the quiet and creeping desperation that would be his undoing Told with candor and care, ELVIS and ME is a bittersweet and passionate reflection of the loss of innocence, the loss of love, and the loss of a national living treasure- Elvis Presley!!!
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)