After the huge success of Halloween (1978), TV channel ABC in the following year asked director John Carpenter to shoot the biography Elvis (aka Elvis the Movie). According to Carpenter, the producers hired him after they found out that he wrote the score for Halloween all by himself. This was apparently enough to assume that he was the right man for the job.
It's left undecided whether or not it's a coincidence that Elvis Presley's last film character was called "Dr. John Carpenter" (in the movie Change of Habit ).
Kurt Russel plays the leading role. As a child, Kurt Russel was a part of the Elvis movie It Happened at the World's Fair (1963). Back then (as a 12-year-old) he was allowed to kick the King's shin. The movie Crime Is King (2001) pays tribute to exactly this scene: Russell plays an Elvis-impersonator, who gets a hack on the shin by a little boy when standing around in a hotel in full costume.
As usual (back then), this made-for-TV movie hit the theatres in the USA and Europe. For the sake of dramaturgy, they trimmed the movie down heavily.
Most fans were quite surprised when in 2010 Shout Factory released the movie on DVD in the USA. Shortly after this release, European lables also released the movie on DVD. While the British label Fremantle Media released the uncut TV version of the movie, the German DVD by Edel Germany GmbH only features the theatrical version which were had been released on VHS too.
This is a comparison between the shortened German DVD and the UK DVD (BBFC U).
German DVD: 100:25 min.
UK DVD: 161:10 min.
Difference: 60:45 min.
The motorcade is shown longer. In the extended version, the opening credits are already shown (in the theatrical version they follow a little later).
Before the arrival at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in july 1969 there are a few shots of Las Vegas.
Security guards and a few FBI agents enter the hotel.
Schoolfriend Red West is standing in front of the hotel room, lights a cigarette and suddenly startles up because of nervous voices.
The security guards call for Elvis' father Vernon and tell him that the blackmailer (who claims to know something about a planned assassination) is on the phone again. Vernon picks it up and agrees to pay 50,000 dollars.
Tracking shot through the room.
Elvis watches a western on TV.
Priscilla comes out of the elevator and has to pass Red West in order to enter the room.
The conversation between Elvis and Red is longer - they talk about the alleged assassination.
After Elvis shot the TV, Red has to calm the guards down.
An extended shot of Elvis all alone inside his hotel room. He grabs his quitar and starts to tune it.
Flashback to the year 1945: little Elvis sceptically looks at his christmas present.
At this point, the theatrical version shows the opening credits.
A missing shot of Elvis walking from his twin brother's grave towards the river.
When he arrives there, another boy watches him.
The boys start to fight.
A storm is approaching and Elvis runs home.
Memphis 1953: Elvis goes to the L. C. Humes High School. In the school's bathroom 3 teens make fun of his hairstyle and his clothes. When they are about to start fighting, Red West suddenly joins Elvis to help him. Then, Elvis leaves the building, sits down in the schoolyard and starts playing "Good Rockin' Tonight".
Elvis and his parents (Gladys and Vernon) are having dinner in their apartment in the Winchester Avenue - they live in the projects. Suddenly, a representative of the Memphis Housing Company pays them a visit and tells them to leave the apartment because they earned too much money this month to still live in a council home.
Before Bonnie persuades Elvis into partaking in the school's talent show they chat a little longer.
The second verse of "Old Shep" was cut out.
After a hurricane of applause Elvis steps back on stage to give an encore.
Vernon Presley talks to his son about his future and asks him to take a job at the "Crown Electric Company".
On his way to Sun Records (where he wants to record a song for his mother for 4 cent) Elvis listens to "Tiger Man" by Rufus Thomas in his car.
Elvis, his guitar player Winfield "Scotty" Moore and bassist Bill Black argue that they still didn't find their own style. Elvis suggests to play Arthur Crudup's "Thatīs All Right (Mama)" and Sam Phillips is stoked.
Gladys and Vernon listen to Radio WHBQ's programme a little longer.
Elvis (who was too excited to listen to his own song on the radio) went to the cinema. His parents pick him up there after having looked for him all everywhere.
Bonnie, Elvis, Scotty and Bill are underway a little longer.
At this point, the single is at number 3 in the Country & Western Charts and the guys play their first and only gig in the famous "Grand Ole Opry" radio programme in Nashville. Jim Denny (the programme's organizer) and Sam Phillips have a little talk before the guys start to play.
Elvis sings "Blue Moon of Kentucky" a little longer.
After their gig, Jim Denny recommends Elvis to stop playing music and rather continue driving trucks. The following scene with Elvis (who of course is very disappointed) is longer.
Colonel Tom Parker is shown a little earlier and Elvis' gig lasts a little longer.
We see the jealous guy already before he punches Elvis in the face.
The following car chase is longer, too.
The scene at the gas station is a little more detailed.
After Elvis' breakdown due to tiredness his friends take care of him a little more intensive.
Scene change: during the shooting of the movie "Love me Tender" Elvis gets to know Nick Adams - an actor who was a part of 2 of his idol's (James Dean) movies.
The conversation on the way to their new home was cut out.
Two workers close the entrance gate to Graceland - accompanied by the song "Heartbreak Hotel".
A shot of Graceland. Elvis drives through the entrance door which is crowded with female fans. On the motorcycle behind him there's Natalie Wood. Gladys feeds the chicken in the garden and Elvis shows Natalie the house. Then, he and his friends go out - they go to an arcade. The only way for Elvis to have a little fun without being spotted is to rent a (hotel) room for the night. However, the celebreties still are bothered by photographers.
Minnie Mae Presley (Elvis' grandma) listens to Gladys while knitting.
Elvis has his hair dyed.
Christmas in Graceland: grandma Minnie Mae plays the piano.
Conversation between mother and son: She's a little nervous because Elvis has to go to the army.
After Gladys broke down (during the scene inside the trailer near the the base in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas) you don't see Elvis and Vernon bringing her to a car.
The shot inside the hospital in Memphis was shortened.
A choir sings a song during the funeral.
Red West picks up his friend Elvis.
Arrival in Bad Nauheim.
Elvis and young Priscilla look at each other a little longer.
After Elvis sang "Tutti Frutti" inside a restaurant, we see him walking off stage, giving Priscilla a kiss and thanking the audience.
Return to the United States: Vernon brings Elvis home.
Elvis and his friends: they now live their lives in a daily routine. The so-called "Memphis Mafia" has its first appearance.
After Red left, Elvis plays "Unchained Melody" a little longer. Then follows a flashback to Priscilla.
The phone call between captain Beaulieu (Priscilla's father) and Elvis - where Elvis asks him to send his daughter to America because he wants to marry her - is longer.
After his beloved arrived in Memphis, they have a little talk while Elvis drives her to school.
Elvis and his friends watch Jack Ruby's and lee Harvey Oswald's assassination on TV.
On their wedding day Joe Esposito tell Red West that he's not supposed to partake in the wedding but rather work at the front desk.
The scene at the skating rink (where Red complains about not being allowed to partake in the wedding - Elvis appologizes and says that he didn't plan it by himself) was cut out.
While Elvis is busy with the shooting of a new movie, Priscilla does some ballet training.
Grandma Minnie Mae complains about the modern stove in the kitchen and tells Elvis that his wife needs a private life.
Elvis - who at this moment is annoyed - starts arguing with Sonny West in the garden and subsequently fires the whole troup. Shortly later he feels sorry about it and asks his old friend Charlie Hodge to bring them back.
Elvis enters the garage where you can see the pink Cadillac Elvis once gave to his mother.
After Priscilla tells him that she's pregnant, Elvis starts furnishing the child's room.
Elvis has strong feelings about the producers of his movies because they completely messed his songs up. The following dialogue between him and his wife is a little longer.
The karate training in the garden starts earlier.
Elvis wakes Priscilla up to read her from a book which he's just reading. It is about death and transmigration.
During breakfast Pricilla and Elvis start to argue because she can't take it anymore to not be able to pick her friends for herself.
Shortly after this you can see her working out.
Shortly before the gig in the International Hotel on july 31st, 1969.
The King enters the stage after more than 8 years of abstinence. The show is a great success.
The credits were not included in the theatrical version.