Search - Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Shows: The Performances on DVD

Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Shows: The Performances
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Shows The Performances
Actor: Elvis Presley
Director: n/a
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Television
NR     2009     0hr 47min

Share the excitement of Elvis Presley's earthshattering introduction to the nation in this collection of iconic performances from "The Ed Sullivan Show," and experience for yourself why Elvis became the legendary King of R...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Elvis Presley
Director: n/a
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Television
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, Presley, Elvis, Classic Rock, Television
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 08/04/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1956
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1956
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 0hr 47min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Three "really big shews," thanks to Elvis' appearances (whic
J. Lund | SoCal, USA | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The release of this DVD set is important for a number of reasons. As with the Beatles DVD of their 1964-65 Ed Sullivan appearances (available separately), the complete original broadcasts allow the viewer to see legendary performances in the context of what passed for mainstream entertainment back in the day (1956-57 for Elvis, mid-sixties for the Beatles). As such, the impact of these paradigm-busting pop culture legends can be compared and contrasted with the entertainment norms of their respective eras, as opposed to measuring them by ill-fitting contemporary standards. In other words, although neither Elvis nor the Beatles are shocking by today's standards, the high quality of their actual musical performances is what is going to get these DVDs watched repeatedly by most purchasers. By the way, the video and audio restoration (from kinescopes) is remarkably well done.

It would be inaccurate to say that Elvis was not "ready for prime time." given the fact that his Ed Sullivan appearances broke ratings records when they originally aired. Nonetheless, his segments were controversial to the point where he was filmed from the waist up on the third show (not all three, as is sometimes reported). Elvis and his acclaimed original band (guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer DJ Fontana, plus the Jordanaires on backing vocals) perform well-known hits ("Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "Ready Teddy," "Too Much," etc.), and even a gospel tune on the "censored" third show ("Peace In The Valley"). Several of these tunes are performed on two or even all three broadcasts. Furthermore, some viewers conditioned by pop culture mythology to expect an Elvis-shaped tornado swiveling constantly on stage may be disappointed to see that Presley's then-shocking gyrations are only significantly evident on "Ready Teddy" (1st show) and "Hound Dog" (2nd show). Of course, there's more to Elvis' talents than meet the eye.

Even given the pop cultural context that the release of the entire shows provide, is is still amazing how shocking his appearances were considered to be, given how generally unthreatening he appears on camera. I've always been a bit annoyed by Elvis' habit of tossing little humorous asides into his performances (e.g., self-conscious lyric alterations, exaggerated facial or vocal expressions ... that in my opinion suggest that Presley doesn't have confidence that he would ever be accepted as anything more than a short-lived fad, and thus wants to appear to be in on the joke). However, these mannerisms are kept to a minimum here: they seemingly make him less threatening to audiences not used to the relative fury of rock'n'roll, but are not done to excess so as to detract from the impact of the music itself.

The only drawback to issuing the entirety of the Ed Sullivan shows is that most of the other performances are painfully dated (which is why I rated the DVD 4 stars rather than 5, which Elvis deserves). Sullivan seemed to favor vaudeville-era musical and comic stage performers, circus acts, etc. (which to be fair was a winning formula that kept him on the air from 1948 to 1971). It's not that the other guests don't have particular talents (as some suggest), but it is ironic that most of them don't stand the test of time, whereas supposed flash-in-the-pan Elvis' performances hold up well a half-century later. In fact, most DVD viewers are likely to be familiar with only one other guest among the three shows (an early appearance by famed comedienne Carol Burnett). Particularly if one is interested in the larger pop culture picture, there is a fascination in seeing these timeworn acts perhaps once or twice. Fortunately for subsequent viewings, there is an option in the menus to view only the Elvis segments and bonus material (which are why this DVD set exists in the first place). For Elvis and rock'n'roll fans, these moments will be worth the price of admission."
History spread over three DVDs
joseph Corey | Raleigh, NC United States | 11/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For those of who weren't born when Elvis struck America, here's the undiluted wonder. You get all three complete Ed Sullivan shows from his early days. You even get the ads for Mercury cars. Besides Elvis, you get to see the rest of Ed's cast of characters. Even that Senor guy who speaks to his hand. What's amazing is that there are so few ad breaks.

The only bummer is that this is each disc only has 1 show. This could have been a 2 DVD set.

A perfect gift for the Elvis lover. Or just someone who wants to watch Ed Sullivan in a non-highlights format."
Stop Wondering. The proof is here!
S. Viola | Upper Saddle River, N.J. United States | 12/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"To all those who wonder why Elvis is called the undisputed King of Rock N Roll, the proof is on these DVD's. Just look at the mundane acts of the day and then there's Elvis bursting onto your TV screen. The world had never seen or heard anyone quite like him before. So he didnt write his songs or play guitar like Hendrix, no one had that voice , that look, or that uniqueness about them - ever! My goodness, just look at the other 1950's performers on these DVD's. Get it? Now get it!"
Earth shaking
B. W. Fairbanks | Lakewood, OH United States | 08/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Elvis Presley made no less than nine network television appearances before performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" the evening of September 9, 1956, but most of America first saw him then. Despite a stiff demeanor and tendency to pronounce show as "shoe," Sullivan was the ringmaster of American entertainment. His Sunday night variety program was an institution in the days when television was still a three channel proposition. Appearing on his show was an important break for any entertainer. It was tantamount to receiving the show business seal of approval.

But Sullivan originally did not approve of Presley and vowed he wouldn't touch the singer with a ten foot pole. Despite selling more records faster than any recording artist in history, Presley was more than hot. He was scorching. The swivel hips that earned him the nickname "Elvis the Pelvis" (which he despised, calling it "childish") and his expressive singing style made him a lightning rod of controversy. One journalist compared his stage act to that of a stripper. However, when Presley appeared on "The Steve Allen Show" which was scheduled opposite Sullivan on Sunday nights, the ratings went through the roof. Sullivan reversed himself and offered Presley a then record $50,000 to make three appearances on his show.

Just how shocking Presley was in 1956 was never apparent in the frequently recycled clips of his performances. Now, thanks to Image Entertainment's 3 disc DVD set, "Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Show," his performances can be seen in their proper context.

Ironically, a car accident prevented Sullivan from being present that first night. Charles Laughton, the brilliant British stage and screen actor (and husband of Elsa Lanchester, "The Bride of Frankenstein"), was the guest host that night, kicking off the proceedings by reading some poetry followed by limericks. The Brothers Amin, an acrobatic act, came next, then Dorothy Sarnoff performed a song from Broadway's "The King and I." After a commercial, Laughton, standing before a wall of Presley's gold records, introduced the man whom a record 55 million viewers tuned in to see.

Wearing a plaid jacket and a guitar slung over his chest like a machine gun, Presley blasts his way into "Don't Be Cruel" and it's a little like Moses parting the Red Sea. Prior to Elvis, entertainment didn't have to be rated with letters signifying what age group should be permitted to watch. Families watched TV and listened to music the same way they went to the movies: together. Now Elvis came to drive them apart.

Teenagers love him, of course, especially the girls, and what was there not to like? Handsome, but in a way men had not been before; threatening, yet still somehow tame, as if his mask of menace was only meant to conceal a wounded heart. He is, after all, very well-mannered, saying "Yes, sir" and thanking "Mr." Laughton. What was one to make of this guy with the unusual name, the pompadour, and the long sideburns?

"He just does this," Ed Sullivan would say while shaking his body on the October 28 show, "and everybody yells." Presley looked a little more sinister this time in his dark suit, and he offers reprises of "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," and "Hound Dog" while also introducing one of his sultriest numbers, "Love Me."

What did Dorothy Sarnoff think? And Senor Wences, who was on the bill the same night Presley appeared a second time?

Clearly, show business had been rocked into a new dimension.

His third and final appearance for Sullivan came on January 6, 1957 on a show that also featured Carol Burnett, one of the few stars whose wattage would increase in future years. By now, the country was clearly divided into two camps: those who championed the King of Rock and Roll, and those who condemned him. Sullivan was now in the former, surprising audiences and Elvis himself by proclaiming him a "good,decent boy."

But there was no turning back. Soon, people would be talking about the "generation gap" and, later, "youth culture." The gap would widen in the `60s with even Presley taking his place among the old guard, but the gap started here. With the release of Elvis-The Ed Sullivan Show on DVD, it's now possible to properly assess the earth shaking impact Presley had in the more innocent era of the 1950's.

Brian W. Fairbanks