from the dvd ELVIS PRESLEY'S - Joanna Lumley Elvis And Me Documentary 2015
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The documentary was beautifully filmed and captured why Elvis remains a major musical icon still, almost 40 years since his death, says Gerard O'DonovanJoanna Lumley with Priscilla Presley in front of Elvis's home, Graceland Photo: Jaimie Gramston
It was Elvis Presley, in all his exotic American gorgeousness, who rocked Joanna Lumley’s world when she first heard him sing in the fun-free, colourless England of the Fifties. In Joanna Lumley: Elvis and Me (ITV) the actress jetted off to Memphis and got behind the wheel of a shiny red Corvette for a sugar-dipped trip down memory lane.
Little red Corvette: Joanna Lumley drives away from Graceland (Photo: Jaimie Gramston) Photo: Jaimie Gramston
Not for Lumley the bloated, jumpsuit stretching Elvis of the Las Vegas era. “I’m not so interested in the later years,” she said, with apparent feeling. “I’m going in search of the youth catapulted to fame and fortune.”
The youth whose rebelliously curled lip crept decades later onto the face of Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous. The youth who loved his “dirt poor” mama enough to make a record for her; and who bought her a “beautiful little brick house in the shady suburbs of Memphis” with his first royalties.
The American south, Lumley decided, was “key to understanding” Elvis. She visited the shop where Elvis acquired his first guitar, Sun Studios where he cut his first discs, and the clothes shop where he first evolved the country-boy rock star look. She chatted to his old friends, like Dixie Locke, the girl Elvis took to his school prom. “Did he ever kiss you?” Lumley asked, a little tremulously. The earthy cackle she got in response suggested he had, and how. Of course Lumley also visited the shrine that is Graceland, invited in by Elvis’s former wife Priscilla, to share memories of their life together there – before it all turned sour.
Always on my mind: Priscilla and Elvis on their wedding day (Photo: Reuters)
As rock’n’roll biographies go it was all a little breathless, a little anodyne, and a little coy – as befits a film made not by ITV but supplied by Sony Music to promote a new disc of Elvis recordings being released in the run up to Christmas. Still, it was beautifully filmed and captured why Elvis remains a major musical icon still, almost 40 years since his death.