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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender
Fox // Unrated // August 13, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted September 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Love Me Tender was the screen debut of Elvis Presley and it was also a decent Western. Set directly after the Civil War, Presley is Clint Reno (must have had a cool name clause in his contract), the youngest of four brothers. His elder brothers had all gone to fight in the war and were presumed dead. Imagine Vance, Brett, and Ray's surprise when they learn that the Union payroll train they robbed is no longer considered fair game when the war is over.

That's not the only surprise. When the three brothers return home they find that things are exactly as they left. Clint has married Vance's (played by Richard Egan I) old girlfriend Cathy. Solemn looks abound as the family tries to placate Vance by explaining they all thought he was dead. All agree that there are no hard feelings, but Cathy and Vance still have feelings for one another.

The Western aspect interrupts the family arc once again when a group of Union soldiers arrives looking for part of the group that robbed the payroll train. Clint unknowingly defends his brothers, who deny all involvement and later argue what course of action they should take. Things come to a climatic end when all is revealed and gunfights and death rear their head. Clint and his brother resolve their differences in an unexpected way and Elvis fans are left wondering about "The King's" future in the movies.

Presley's debut performance is workable but he's obviously out of his element here. Being young, he's more at home singing in the film-which he's does for about four songs-than he his acting in front of the camera. Any other actor's doing this performance would have been passable but an image is projected onto Presley that's hard to forget.

The film does a good job of blending the family troubles and shoot-outs in order to make a film that likely would appeal to both genders. The plot is a little thick at times and Presley's musical performances stick out. Being after the Civil War, rock and roll would have been unacceptable. His attempt at country and slow songs are still permeated with his infectious blend of rock and roll spirit. That's a good thing for his fans and not so great for those looking for a true Western.

The Video: For a 1956 film, the transfer looks amazingly good. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, everything is framed beautifully. Blacks are rich and varied in tone and the whites are surprisingly crisp. There is a small amount of grain and dust present throughout, but it's never annoying. Occasional print flaws are present, but they are minor and never obstruct the image. For its age and lack of major restoration, the film looks great.

The Audio: The original Mono soundtrack has been converted to a nice digital transfer. Presley's songs and the other music and effects sound good. It's not comparable to a full 5.1 mix but considering the source it perfectly serviceable.

Extras: There are four trailers available on this disc. Spanish and English trailers for Love Me Tender are present. Also provided are trailers for Flaming Star and Wild in the Country.

Overall: Presley turns in a respectable performance in his first film. It's a standard Western that likely garnered attention from his presence but it bears watching at least once if you're a fan of the genre and more if you like Presley.
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