Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970) [Digibook Blu-Ray/DVD]

For Elvis fans still celebrating the “Viva Las Vegas” release, Warner re-releases the 2007 DVD except in Blu-Ray Digibook form and in its 2001 edition, which is considerably shorter in length. That’s because the film’s director chopped some fan segments. You can still watch the original version on the DVD supplied in the Digibook edition, while the supplements are rather extensive for hardcore fans. This includes the very detailed aforementioned book within the Blu-Ray case that should act as a fine memento for Elvis buffs.

“That’s the Way It Is” is a fine and candid documentary about Elvis Presley dropping the acting gig in favor of a comeback tour that can hopefully give him a chance to re-claim his fans. This was 1970, during the big reign of British invasion that was headed by the Beatles, so while the documentary is light in tone, you can sense Elvis is anxious to get his fan base back from more in vogue musicians of the decade. At one point, Elvis even performs “Little Sister,” and converts the tempo of the song, singing an impromptu verse of “Get Back” from the fab four. Even if Beatlemania was about over, their influence is still there, and you can sense hesitation from Elvis with every song he sings from his classic playlist.

Director Denis Sanders focuses primarily on the rehearsals from Elvis, and on how disciplined he is as a performer. We get to see Elvis really honing in on much of his more iconic songs, and he is able to really carry that energy in to his official performance, where he really is at his top. He’s a dazzling performer, and a great singer, and he keeps his audience at eye level, despite being a grand presence on stage. While it’s not as elaborate as most concert films or documentaries, it’s a fine insight in to the King, and why he’s still such an intense voice in music.

Featured within the new Digibook of “That’s The Way It Is,” a lot of the features have been transferred from the 2007 DVD in to this new edition. “Patch It Up: The Restoration of Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” is a nine minute segment with producer Rick Schmidlin, who discusses re-editing the movie, as well as featuring interviews with Elvis’ band mates, and how Elvis was to work with and for. There’s also a slew of Outtakes from the film, including musical numbers from Elvis, and some fan testimonials. There’s the original theatrical trailer, and finally the Digibook. There are a ton of gorgeous stills varying from black and white to color, a track list, and a look at Elvis’ career. It’s a fine little booklet to comb over the general appeal of Elvis Presley.