Elvis: His Best Friend Remembers
From the Private Collection
of Diamond Joe Esposito
Film Length: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
I am not a huge fan of Elvis Presley. He was
a bit before my time, so it's not unusual that
I'm mostly a fan of the music he performed in
the late 60's through 70's. There is no doubt
in my mind, however, that he is the true "King"
of Rock and Roll.
Universal sent me a screener of an upcoming
DVD that chronicles the life of Elvis Presley
through the person that was at his side for
almost 20 years. That person is Joe Esposito,
who served as Road Manager for Elvis.
This DVD documentary is very unique in that it
presents some very personal photos and footage
that rarely has been seen by the public. Of
course, you get interesting stories about Elvis's
private life direct from the person that was
there with him. These are the good points about
this DVD, and I'll get to the bad ones in a moment.
Joe Esposito's story begins in 1958 when Elvis
was drafted into the Army at Fort Hood, Texas.
Joe actually met Elvis for the first time when
both were transferred for duty in Germany. They
got to know one another and Elvis offered him
the job of a lifetime.
Moving through the years that followed, the DVD
almost works like a scrapbook, offering rare
glimpses into Elvis's personal life thanks to
over 500 photographs. It's heartwarming to watch
what a true icon the man was and how much he
adored his fans. Wherever Elvis was, he always
took the time to sign autographs.
Some of the memorable highlights on this DVD
are of Elvis and Danny Thomas together next
to the boat that Elvis bought and donated to
The marriage of Elvis to Priscilla is shown
with an interesting story by Esposito on how
the entire family fooled Rona Barrett and the
press into thinking the ceremony was being held
There are also stories about Elvis's movie
career, buying his first airplane (Lisa Marie),
the women he dated after his divorce, and the
Of course, one of the most intimate moments
of this documentary comes when Joe recalls Elvis's
last vacation and the day he died. Setting the
record straight, Joe tells the entire story of
his death -- the way it actually happened --
dispelling many of the rumors of years gone by.
Though I credit this documentary as being a
valiant effort to capture the King's private
life, I was very disappointed over the fact that
none of his licensed performances could be used
on the DVD, if only in short clips. There is no
footage from any of his films or TV specials.
The closest we get is a "Welcome Home" special
with Frank Sinatra and Joey Bishop that only
serves as an introduction to a song that never
Perhaps I am expecting too much from a DVD that
serves only the purpose of giving us private
moments that other documentaries never could.
In that respect, this is a DVD for Elvis fans
that will not disappoint.
The documentary itself lasts just under 90
minutes. There are, however, 11 BONUS DVD
CHAPTERS that can be accessed from the
Bonus Materials area.
Highlights of these extra chapters include:
* News clips from major networks and local
stations announcing the death of Elvis Presley
* A mini tour of Graceland
* A candlelight vigil
* Elvis Presley Memorabilia
* Meet Al Dvorin, the man who immortalized
the words, "Elvis has left the building!"
Learn how it came to be.
* A look at the many fans and impersonators
* Elvis buying a chimp, and the chimp's first
appearance at a party getting drunk.
While there are far better DVDs out there
that chronicle Elvis's life and career (along
with actual performances), this is one of those
documentaries that appeal more to the die-hard
fans, as it gives an interesting look at a side
of Elvis not ordinarily seen from his friend
that saw it all.
If you are a fan, this is worth a look.
Release Date: July 30, 2002