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DVD Reviews


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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted July 28 2004 - 12:50 PM

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Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1966
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 93 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD Monaural
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English & French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Indonesian
MSRP: $14.97
Package: Keepcase

The Feature:
On August 3rd, Warner Brothers will release six of Elvis Presley’s MGM made films to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rock ‘n’ Roll celebration. The titles to be released individually are: It Happened At The Worlds Fair (1963), Harum Scarum (1965), Double Trouble (1966), Speedway (1968), Elvis’ final film with MGM The Trouble With Girls (1969) and the featured film, Spinout (1966).

In addition, on August 24th, Warner will release Elvis Presley: The Signature Collection which will contain the following six titles: It Happened At The Worlds Fair (1963), Harum Scarum (1965), Spinout (1966), Speedway (1968), Viva Las Vegas (1964) and Jailhouse Rock (1957). In a recent email that I received from WB, they confirmed the last two titles (already released by WB), will simply be current versions (snapper cases and all) added to the set. The boxed set will retail for $49.92.

Elvis Presley is a musician/race car driver heading for a most spectacular Spinout. Making his living as a musician, Mike McCoy (played by Elvis Presley), wants to keep things simple. He loves the girls about as much as they love him but he has no interest in settling down. No, not him. He wants to travel and live an unencumbered life. Enter three beautiful women who want nothing more than to settle down……with Mike.

Cynthia Foxhugh (played by Shelley Fabares) is a spoiled rich girl who gets whatever she wants and if she can’t get it herself, daddy buys it for her. What she wants now is Mike and she will do anything including racing cars or calling the police if that’s what it takes to get Mike. Diana St. Clair (played by Diane McBain) is a bestselling author researching “The Perfect American Male” for her next book and she thinks she’s found him. And now that she has, she has no intention of letting him slip through her fingers. Then we have Les (played by Deborah Walley). Les is the band’s drummer and secretly wishes Mike would make music with her. Unfortunately, she is thought of as just “one of the guys”, albeit one that can cook gourmet meals.

Watch as Mike navigates the curves and heads to the finish line!

Directed by Norman Taurog, this Elvis film was in every way, similar to the many films the icon starred in between 1956 and 1969, complete with rock ‘n’ roll music, fast cars and gorgeous girls. What differentiates this particular picture from many of the films he made in his later years, is that this one is actually quite good, well sorta. Although, in this case, Elvis can’t take all the credit, as he was offered up a better than average screenplay from the likes of writers Theodore J. Flicker and George Kirgo not to mention the songs in this film seem to help it along; Never Say Yes, Adam and Evil, All That I Am as well as the title song which was written for Elvis by Dolores Fuller.

The Feature: 3.5/5
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Very very nice! Presented in its OAR of 2.35:1 (enhanced widescreen), this transfer looks terrific. Considering the MSRP price point, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, the colors. Wow…! They just couldn’t be any more vibrant and they are perfectly saturated. The skin tones were also very accurate looking. Blacks were jet black, while whites were contrasted nicely always looking crisp and clean.

The overall level of image definition was rather sharp with the image looking only soft on occasion. There was an appropriate amount of very fine film grain that was present throughout the film and the result was an image that was very film-like with a nice sense of dimensionality.

There were occasional instances of dust and dirt blemishes as well as slight film scratches, but overall, the print was cleaner than I expected. The image appeared to be rock solid only exhibiting light shimmer a couple of times throughout the film. The transfer was free of any compression errors or haloing.

A very nice transfer – good job!

Video: 4/5
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Presented in DD Monaural, this soundtrack does a better job than you might imagine. In fact, for a mono track, it’s outstanding.

The entire track is free of any hiss or other distracting anomalies such as popping or cracking. The overall tonality of the track is natural and I would even describe it as slightly forward.

There are a number of crashes and revving engines offering up a robustness that’s healthier than average, all of which showcases a range not often heard on a mono track. The music sounds great during the many songs that are played by The King throughout the film.

Finally, dialogue was always exceptionally bold and clear throughout the entire film.

Super job… a great example of a well done mono track!!

Audio: 4/5
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Special Features:[*] The lone special feature is an Elvis Trailer Gallery which includes Spinout (1966), Double Trouble (1967), Speedway (1968), and The Trouble with Girls (1969). All four trailers are in pretty decent shape.

Considering the material the studio must have relating to Elvis’ music and films, the lack of significant bonus material is somewhat disappointing, but presumably accounts for its lower than average MSRP.

Special Features: 2/5
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**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

Final Thoughts:
Regardless of one’s personal feelings for Elvis Presley, there’s no denying he was one of the greatest influential factors on our culture, during the past century. That said, looking through Elvis’ extensive filmography reveals a hefty amount of lackluster attempts in his repertoire but this isn’t one of them. Hey it’s an Elvis film, one that offers up a lot of fun, some good music and ninety minutes of delicious scenery… What more could you ask for…?

Although the extras are sparse, the presentation is outstanding. If you’re an Elvis fan sitting on the fence, the fact that you can pick this disc up for under $10 bucks should make your decision an easy one.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
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Release Date: August 3rd, 2004
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 29 2004 - 01:38 AM

I always liked SPINOUT and, considering the three films that proceeded it (Harum Scarum, Frankie and Johnny, Paradise Hawaiian Style,) the film at least attempts some return to rock and roll tunes for the soundtrack. The original album even had an Elvis cover of Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time" as a bonus track!

My only complaint with the film is that Elvis didn't go on his customary crash diet to lose weight before production, and looks a bit heavy. (The MGM art department had to trim him down for the posters and ad campaign.) By this point, he was fed up with making these movies and his lack of interest definitely showed on the screen.

Great review and, for less than ten dollars, you can't go wrong.

Bob Furmanek



#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Bill Parisho

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Posted July 29 2004 - 11:17 AM

I couldn't agree with you more, Bob. The three that came before this one were so awful that this movie just becomes that much more entertaining.
I actually remember seeing this one at the Saturday matinee when I was a kid. (oops! I just showed my age!)
The one everyone should check out, however, is Double Trouble. Not because the movie is anything special. It's just a routine Elvis/spy-type film. It does have, however, one of the best songs that the King ever recorded. The song is called "City By Night" and it's the kind of blues-type number like Elvis did in the 50's. A great song!
Bill Parisho

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 30 2004 - 01:21 AM

I agree Bill, DOUBLE TROUBLE is entertaining, and benefits from some very good tunes (including "Baby if You'll Give Me all Your Love" and "Long Legged Girl.") Unfortunately, it also has "Old Macdonald", so they weren't all gems! Considering the high quantity of tunes for the amount of movies Elvis was turning out (3 a year) I felt the good certainly outweighed the bad. Some of the more ridiculous songs that people point out as representative of his movie years (such as "There's no Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car" and "Yoga is as Yoga Does") were never meant to be taken seriously in the first place, and were specifically written for comedy situations.

SPINOUT was quite successful when first released in 1966. My friend saw it on the opening Friday night in the 3300 seat Loew's theater in Jersey City, and the place was nearly sold out. Many people underestimate the popularity of Elvis' movies during those years.

Elvis' lack of interest in recording non-soundtrack material during the mid-sixties was the primary reason for his much-needed comeback in 1968. It seemed once the British Invasion hit, he lost all interest in recording any material other than the required film songs. By all accounts, even then it was very difficult to get him in the studio. He knew that the material was below par, and was just going through the motions.

Bob Furmanek