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 Back In Black

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Two new deluxe Elvis reissues become essential DVDs for any rock fan's library.

by Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly

Elvis - Aloha From HawaiiElvis - The '68 Comeback Special
orget the original title: The NBC special that rescued Elvis Presley from irrelevance at the height of the counterculture has long since become known as "the '68 comeback special," a phrase that's entered the lexicon as shorthand for miraculous rejuvenation. (Brian Setzer named a band after it, and buffs have been known to use it in a sentence: "That leather jacket is very '68-comeback-special on you.") Neophytes can learn what the fuss was all about -- and old-timers can test their patience for hours of alternate takes and bloopers -- via the three disc Elvis: The '68 Comeback Special (Unrated, 7 hrs., 20 mins., BMG), which instantly stakes a claim as one of the half-dozen essential DVDs for any rock fan's library. Uncut versions of the show's soundstage performances are manna from pop heaven -- most crucially Presley's semi-acoustic rendition with '50s cohorts Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, where these go-cats simultaneously recreate the invention of rock and foreshadow the invention of MTV Unplugged. Some of that phoenixian oomph was gone by the 1973 satellite broadcast commemorated in Elvis, Aloha From Hawaii (Unrated, 242 mins., BMG), but this is the scene of his last real hurrah, with El in near fighting trim and still-kingly voice. Here, you realize, is the only guy, possibly ever, who could take a fan's kerchief, wipe his chest, return it, and make you think "Cool!" instead of "Eww!" Comeback: A Hawaii: B+

Is Elvis still alive?

Popular reasons given to support the claim Elvis is alive.

• Elvis' coffin required several pall bearers because it weighed 900 pounds. Attendants of the funeral reported the air around the coffin was rather cool. It is suspected the coffin contained an air conditioning unit to keep a wax body cool -- a wax that was a replica designed to fool funeral-goers.

• The funeral was held the day after Elvis' death. Some say the immediacy was intended to make it difficult for people who were Elvis' fans to attend. They might have recognized the flaws in the wax replica.

• The body in the coffin had a pug nose and arched eyebrows unlike Elvis. Most importantly, one of the sideburns on the "corpse" was loose and falling off. A hairdresser later reported gluing the sideburn back.

Elvis at 66?• Elvis' actions were not those of a man who was about to embark on an extensive U.S. tour. He ordered no new suits despite having gained 50 pounds since his last tour, and he bid "adios" at his last show in Hawaii. He had never done this before. Adios, like the French adieu, has the significance of being a final good-bye.

• The day after his "death," Lucy De Barbon, an ex-lover, received a single rose in the mail. The card indicated the flower was from "El Lancelot." This had been her pet name for Elvis, and it was a name no one else knew.

• Elvis had reasons to fake his death. His life was in danger. He had lost $10 million in a real estate deal with a California organization called "Fraternity" that had links to the Mafia. It is speculated he corroborated with the government to expose the crime ring in exchange for protection, perhaps in the form of a new life.

• Elvis once faked his death by setting up an elaborate shooting in which a would-be killer fired blanks at Elvis who had a blood pack which he discharged.

• Elvis had the means to fake his own death. He is accused of destroying himself with drugs. In reality, Elvis was a pharmaceutical expert. He took a lot of drugs, but he knew what drugs he could self-administer to create a deathlike state. Further, Elvis' experience with the martial arts was such that he could slow his heart rate and breathing to feign death.

 That '70s Show

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The beat goes on -- movie- and TV-style -- in the DVD
outings of the dynamic disco duo Starsky & Hutch.

by Ty Burr in Entertainment Weekly

EXTRA! act picture EXTRA! act pictureSTARSKY & HUTCH
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson
PG-13, 100 mins., 2004

The Complete Second Season

Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul
Unrated, 21 hrs., 1976-77

hen in doubt, goof on the '70s. That's the lesson of the big-screen version of Starsky & Hutch, where the laughs come from Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson parodying the polyester excesses of the disco decade. But there's a different lesson to be gleaned from the TV-graveyard trawl Starsky & Hutch, and that's that the '70s were actually damn cool to start with.

The five-disc extravaganza of the classic cop show is skimpy on the extras, and you have to adjust your settings to compensate for the clashing plaids, but the kicky guest stars more than make up for it. Hollywood queens like Joan Blondell, rising TV royalty like Suzanne Somers, even an impossibly young Jeff Goldblum. Leads David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser are less given to macho posturing than either memory or the new S&H serves, and the plots are gritty, the sexuality frank, the Afros huge, and the dialoge surprisingly funny -- with the exception of a cornball kidnapping episode written by a young Michael Mann.

Bits from the show get regurgitated in the Stiller-Wilson revamp: Hutch's wealthy-cowboy disguise is a tip of the hat to episode 12 (Starsky alter ego Maury Finkle, by contrast, is all Stiller and pure genius.) The film sustains a genial mockery that extends to the extras: In the droll on-set documentary, everyone in the cast expresses intense loathing for everyone else. Even Soul and Glaser, poker-faced as ever, drop by to dump on the proceedings. Movie: B+ show: A

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