DirectorDenis Sanders Music directorElvis Presley Duration LanguageEnglish
CastElvis Presley (Himself), James Burton (Himself (lead guitarist)), John Wilkinson (Himself (rhythm guitarist)), Jerry Scheff (Himself (bassist)), Glen D. Hardin (Himself (pianist)), Ronnie Tutt (Himself (drummer)) Release dateNovember 11, 1970 (1970-11-11) SongsI Just Cant Help Believin Similar moviesEvanescence: Anywhere But Home, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Live In Paris, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Live In London, Garbage: MTV World Stage, Coldplay: Live 2003, John Mayer: Where the Light Is Live in Los Angeles
Elvis: That's the Way It Is is a 1970 American documentary film directed by Denis Sanders. The film documents American singer Elvis Presley's Summer Festival in Las Vegas during August 1970. It was his first non-dramatic film since the beginning of his film career in 1956, and the film gives a clear view of Presley's return to live performances after years of making films.
The original concept as devised by technical advisor Colonel Tom Parker was in view of Elvis's triumphant return to live performances was a closed circuit television presentation of one show.
Although most of the footage takes place onstage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, there are several other parts to the film:
The opening credits sequence contains footage of Elvis' show at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on September 9, 1970. This was the first show of Elvis' first tour in 13 years.
Elvis and his band are seen rehearsing for the Las Vegas engagement at MGM Studios in Culver City, California. There are scenes of Elvis running through such tunes as "I Just Can't Help Believing", "What'd I Say", "Little Sister", "Words", "That's All Right Mama", and "The Next Step Is Love." The rehearsal sequences were filmed during late July 1970.
Later rehearsals show Elvis in Las Vegas with his back-up vocalists The Sweet Inspirations, Millie Kirkham and The Imperials, preparing songs such as "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
There is also a session of rehearsals that takes place in the Showroom Internationale of the International Hotel (now known as the Westgate Hotel and Casino) in Las Vegas. Together, Elvis and the entire group run through songs from "Mary In the Morning" to "Polk Salad Annie". These rehearsals took place on August 7, 1970.
Footage of an Elvis Appreciation Society convention in Luxembourg was shot on September 5, 1970. Radio Luxembourg DJs Tony Prince and Peter Aldersley are on hand to lead the festivities. A tandem bicycle owned by Elvis is raffled off to a lucky fan in the audience. Additionally, various musicians are seen performing their own versions of Elvis' songs.
Onstage in Las Vegas
The Elvis Summer Festival at the International Hotel began on August 10, 1970, and the MGM film crew was on hand to film this show as well as the evening and midnight performances of August 11, 12 and 13. He sings many well-known songs, including several of those that he had been seen rehearsing earlier in the film. The songs are:
Mystery Train/Tiger Man
That's All Right Mama
I've Lost You
Love Me Tender (song)
Patch It Up
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
I Just Can't Help Believin'
Blue Suede Shoes
All Shook Up
Polk Salad Annie
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Can't Help Falling in Love
Don't Be Cruel
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Elvis is also seen relaxing in his hotel suite with various members of his entourage. The movie is also intercut with footage of fans offering commentary about what Elvis means to them; officials at the International Hotel; and celebrities (including Sammy Davis Jr., Cary Grant, Charo, George Hamilton, Juliet Prowse and Xavier Cugat) arriving for opening night of the show.
July 14 rehearsal (M.G.M. Stage 1, Culver City, California)
July 15 rehearsal (M.G.M. Stage 1, Culver City, California)
July 24 rehearsal (R.C.A. studios, Hollywood, California)
July 29 rehearsal (M.G.M. studios, Culver City, California)
August 4 rehearsal (Convention Center, International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada)
August 7 stage rehearsal
August 10 stage rehearsal
August 10 opening night show
August 11 dinner show
August 11 midnight show
August 12 dinner show
August 12 midnight show
August 13 dinner show
September 9 (Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix)
The Imperials (vocals)
The Sweet Inspirations (vocals)
Joe Guercio (orchestra conductor)
James Burton (lead guitar)
Glen D. Hardin (piano, Rhodes piano)
Charlie Hodge (acoustic guitar, harmony vocals)
Jerry Scheff (bass guitar)
Ron Tutt (drums)
John Wilkinson (rhythm guitar)
Sammy Davis, Jr
Millie Kirkham (vocals)
Del 'Sonny' West
The concert film reached #22 on the Variety National Box Office Survey on its original theatrical release in 1970.
A soundtrack album was released in conjunction with the film. It was Presley's first full-length film soundtrack album since 1968's Speedway, and the last as his final film, 1972's Elvis on Tour, did not have a soundtrack release. It was only a partial soundtrack release, as it did not include all of the live performances, and substituted studio recordings for some of the songs performed in the film (some of these recordings can actually be heard playing during the film itself).
A Special Edition was released in 2001 in conjunction with the Special Edition of the movie. This consisted of three discs:
Disc one : Original album plus bonus songs
Disc two : 12 August Midnight Show
Disc Three : Unreleased Live songs and rehearsals
However the following shows are also available on CD:
One Night in Vegas (10 August Opening Show)
Live in Las Vegas (Disc 2) (11 August Midnight Show)
The Wonder Of You (13 August)
In 2001, a new version of That's the Way it Is was compiled. The new version eliminated much of the documentary and non-Elvis content of the original in favor of adding additional performances of Elvis rehearsing and in concert. The final film runs 12 minutes shorter than the original, but contains more music, although several performances included in the original film are omitted (most notably the concert performance of "I Just Can't Help Believin'", even though the new version of the film features footage of Presley rehearsing the song and being concerned about remembering its lyrics on stage).
The special edition was released on January 19, 2001, when this new version made its worldwide debut on the cable network, Turner Classic Movies and produced by award-winning producer Rick Schmidlin.
In August 2007 a two-disc DVD "special edition" was released by Warner/Turner that has both the reworked version plus the original cut. The original, however, has only a mono soundtrack [it was made with 4 track stereo]. The DVD also includes approximately 35 minutes of additional performances and other footage that was not included in either edition.
A Two Disc Special Edition Premium Digibook was announced for release in August 12, 2014. With thousands of feet of materials including sequences added to capture with greater intimacy Elvis' performances and his creative process behind-the-scenes, the previously released Special Edition is now being made available as a Blu-ray two disc Special Edition Premium Digibook. Denis Sanders (Shock Treatment) directed this "rockumentary." Academy Award® nominated Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) was the cinematographer. Disc 1 (DVD) 2001 Special Edition and Special Features: - Patch It Up: The Restoration of Elvis: That's The Way It Is - 12 Outtakes - song/nonmusical sequences - 1970 Original Theatrical Version Disc 2 (DVD) 1970 Original Theatrical Version and Special Features: - 12 Outtakes - song/nonmusical sequences