The New Gladiators is a documentary movie by Elvis Presley and Ed Parker centered on the fights of the United States Karate team in London, England and Brussels, Belgium. Narrated by Chuck Sullivan, it was filmed between 1973 and 1974 but finally remastered and later released in 2002. The movie was financed by American singer and actor Elvis Presley, who began to practice karate during his duty years in the United States Army.
In 1974, George Waite presented the idea of the film to Ed Parker, Presley’s karate instructor. In the film, Presley was playing the main role, introducing Karate arts divided in narration and demonstrations. Parker presented the idea to Presley, who subsequently liked the idea. There was a meeting organized at Graceland, but no major details were arranged due that Presley had to leave for travel to Las Vegas to perform on a show. The next Morning to the meeting, Presley called Waite and sent his private plane to take his wife and him to Vegas. During the show, Presley extended a $50,000 check for beginning the production of the film.
In 1977 after Presley’s death, the movie was stored in a garage in West Hollywood, in the bed of a truck along with other memorabilia objects. In 2001 the footage was found, restored and later released on August 17, 2002. On August 16, 2009 Elvis Presley Enterprises released a new version of the film with extra footage of Presley in Karate training sessions.
Elvis on Tour is a Golden Globe Award-winning American musical-documentary motion picture released by MGM in 1972. It was the thirty-third and final motion picture to star Elvis Presley before Presley’s death in 1977.
A follow-up to the 1970 release Elvis: That’s the Way it Is, another musical-documentary, this film followed Presley as he embarked on a 15-city tour of the United States in April 1972. The working title of the film was Standing Room Only and a soundtrack album was planned with this title, but never released. (Elvis on Tour was the only Elvis Presley film not accompanied by some form of official soundtrack release, either in the form of a full album or a single). Elvis on Tour also contains vintage footage of Elvis’ famous 1956 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show
According to the book Elvis: His Life from A to Z by Fred L. Worth and Steve Tamerius, among those working on this film were Martin Scorsese, who supervised montage sequences, and David Draper a former Mr. Universe. The film was directed by Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel.
Elvis on Tour won the 1972 Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary, making it the only Elvis film to win an award of any kind. Reportedly, Elvis was watching TV at Graceland the night of the awards show. When he found out he won, he ran around the house shouting “Son of a bitch, we won the Golden Globe!”.
The 1997 VHS reissue was negatively criticized because of the lack of the multi-screen images that were present on all previously released VHS copies of the film. As of 2009 it is also the only Presley film that has not been released on DVD, but it is available for download on iTunes.
Although Presley would be offered numerous films over the next few years, including, famously, the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born, he would make no more films in his lifetime. Footage from Elvis on Tour would later be reused in the theatrical documentary This is Elvis in the early 1980s.
Elvis: That’s the Way It Is is a documentary movie directed by Denis Sanders about Elvis Presley that was released on November 11, 1970. The film documents Elvis’ Summer Festival in Las Vegas during August 1970. It was his first non-dramatic film since the beginning his movie career in 1956, and the film gives us a clear view of Presley’s return to live performances after years of making movies. The original concept as devised by Colonel Tom Parker was in view of Elvis’s triumphant return to live performances was a closed circuit television presentation of one show but the concept developed into this movie. Although the lion’s share 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 Quartet, 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 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.