Elvis
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Change of Habit

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Without any doubt one of the most successful recording artists of all time was Elvis Presley. Even now, many years after his death, his records and movies are consistent best sellers. Evidence of this is the use of the music of Elvis in the new hit animated film Lilo and Stich. Universal has a couple of DVD releases sure to bring a smile to both the most ardent fan and those just now discovering ‘the King’.

Change of Habit was first released in 1969 and featured Elvis as John Carpenter, MD a bright physician dedicated to helping the disadvantaged in an urban low-income clinic. It is there he meets te plain clothes nun (this was something very unusual in the late sixties), Sister Michelle played with spunk and spirit by the ever popular Mary Tyler Moore. Of course there is a love triangle between the Nun, Elvis and God. As with most films that feature Elvis the plot of the film is just something to fill the gaps between songs but after all what people go to an Elvis movie for was his high energy musical presentations not his acting abilities. Among the classic songs here is "Rubbernecking" described as a ‘street wise’ musical number. Some of the younger viewers may be amused by this but just remember that this type of film and songs made a lot of the music popular today possible. There is even an appearance by Ed Anser as a police detective, one of the earliest pairings of the Moore-Anser team that made the Mary Tyler Moore show such a great TV classic.

You have to remember that this was a much more innocent time for the American film audience. The street gangs in this film are about as frightening as understudies form West Side Story. There is more than the usual comic moments interjected to keep the dramatic plot points form becoming too heavy. This was the type of film that people wanted during the turbulent time of anti war protests and a country’s waning trust in the government. Now, many would say that such escapism is just what the public needs. This film delivers song Elvis songs, a little comedy and is just entertaining.

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A perfect companion piece to this film is "Elvis: His Best Friend Remebers". This is homage to Elvis by his friend of over twenty years, ‘Diamond’ Joe Esposito. He takes the audience on an intimate journey through personal moments of Elvis. The DVD includes many rare photos, home movies and personal interviews. There are also newsreels of the time and film clips form some of Elvis’ best screen time. One thing that really hit me while watching this disc is that even now years after the death of Elvis friends like Esposito still love and admire the man. Such devotion by those closest to him show one of the reasons there are still an army of fans which grows larger each day. This is more for the die hard Elvis fan than the novice although anyone interested in man behind the public face, will enjoy. It feels less like a documentary than sitting with a friend of your father listening to stories ‘about the day". It will hold your attention and show a different side of Elvis that previously was placed before the public.

Posted 7/19/02

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