200 Cadillacs
Image // Unrated // $19.99 // January 6, 2004
Review by Don Houston | posted December 24, 2003
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Movie: Whether you love or hate him, Elvis Presley was one of the most well known cultural pop icons the world has ever known. His music has touched millions (and still does), his movies were often fun, and his performances on stage are still talked about to this day. Affectionately referred to as "The King", Elvis was a small town man who became a legend over the years and scores of books and documentaries have been made about the man over the years. For the record, I'm not one of his slavering fans but I enjoy much of his body of work and acknowledge that his generosity with those around him is still talked about to this day. The focus of this review is a little documentary concerning Elvis' generosity with one of the better known cars of the century, the Cadillac, titles appropriately enough 200 Cadillacs.

Director Dan Griffin interviews those who knew Elvis best, including original drummer, D.J. Fontana; bodyguard Sonny West, back-up singers Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires and Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations; personal nurse Marian Cocke; longtime girlfriend Linda Thompson; karate instructor Kang Rhee; Cadillac salesmen Joey Abel and Ernie Barrasso; personal assistant Jerry Schilling and a number of others to provide a loving look at The King's generosity from those who seemed to love him the most. The show presented over 200 photos of Elvis during different periods of his life, including many never before seen from private collections, and added in some interesting music (a separate compact disc is available of the music, none of which is by Elvis) to provide the backdrop of the show.

Each of the interviews provided anecdotes about Elvis' perchance for giving gifts, mainly Cadillacs but also jewelry, cloths, and other extravagant items. The documentary was very much a glowing statement about Elvis that left me wanting to know more from those who didn't like him (for balance if nothing else) but I'm wondering if any such people exist after watching this release. Did it provide me with insights into Elvis' life? Yes, I really think it did and backed them up with all the interviews. Was it a perfect documentary? No, I really think it would have benefited by participation from his family members since more than a few of the interviewee's appeared to be "hanger on" types.

I'm going to rate this as a Rent It for most people since it really was designed to appeal to Elvis fans only but if you're a fan, you'll want your own copy. There were even bits from Frank Sinatra's old television show and the Ed Sullivan Show here, although not a lot. If you want to hear about the King from those who knew him personally, this collection of interviews was as good as you're going to get from real people.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color with a lot of Black & White photographs punctuating the director's viewpoint. Like most such documentaries, the picture varied an awful lot in terms quality but the grain and other flaws were minimal for a low budget release. Image Entertainment seemed to pay some attention to the DVD transfer with no noticeable compression artifacts observed.

Sound: The audio was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English. It was plain with little separation between the tracks but decent enough for a little documentary. I heard a few samples of the CD online and think they sounded even better than here so fans might want to check that out as well.

Extras: There were no extras on this 63 minute long feature.

Final Thoughts: I've always had mixed feelings about those who were too generous with their wealth, since it seems to me that many are simply trying to buy loyalty and/or affection but Elvis seems to have been the real deal; a man who gave from the heart, without reservation. The show was a good look at the man behind the music and fame so check out the DVD if you have even a passing interest in the man.



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