Elvis on 8 mm / Super 8
By Gerrit De Jong
There is no ‘Once upon a time’ in this story because Super 8, Single 8 and the Small film had been around for a very long time. It was in the early 60’s that pre-recorded reels of film were made available to the general public, which almost always were classic comedies (Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Keaton, etc.), or cartoons from Disney and alike.
Our story becomes interesting from the mid 1970’s when the first Elvis Presley movies were released in the Super 8 (Small Film) format.
In the 70’s and early 80’s, Super 8 was the way to have a home cinema experience.
Indeed, a far cry from today’s oversized flatscreen tv’s and beamers …
Collecting Elvis on those 60, 90, 120, 180 and 240 meter reels isn’t easy, but it’s very rewarding! Before I’ll fill you in on what’s out there, it’s important to know that the Super 8 Elvis collector makes use of three categories:
* The 1st category are the ‘Common’ releases which can be anything from movies, tv shows to trailers.
* The 2nd category are the ‘Bootlegs’ which also contain the above subjects.
* The 3rd and last category are the ‘Home Movies’: personal movies shot by fans of our main man, like during concerts.
The 1st category were the releases made for the general public that could be either rented or bought.
In 1976 Ken Films in the USA obtained the rights to many Hal Wallis productions including four Elvis titles which were released in 1977 as abridged (17 minute) versions.
These first four were:
Fun In Acapulco
Girls! Girls! Girls!
A flyer from Ken Films advertising their 4 new Elvis movies on Super 8 (1977).
K-Mart ad for “four classic Elvis films in sound and color” (1977).
In Europe, around the same time, Inter-Pathé from Germany also released these 4 titles, a few months later followed by the German speaking versions of these films.
But Inter-Pathé did more:
they released a two-reeler version of King Creole as well as abridged versions of Roustabout and Paradise Hawaiian Style.
And also the 68 Comeback became available (as Elvis Presley Singer-Show 68).
Viacom in the USA, and Derann in the UK, then released the complete versions of the movies King Creole, G.I Blues, Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Fun In Acapulco, Roustabout and Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
Although the Viacom and Derran releases were identical, the Viacom versions had a more clearer sound and were printed on better film material which meant that the colours of the Derann prints started to fade to reddish over the years.
Derann, shortly thereafter, released countless 60 and 90 meter reels containing just a movie-song or trailer, most of which were released with a standard cover and under the title Elvis At The Movies, including No More and Can’t Help Falling In Love from Blue Hawaii.
Two full-page Viacom ads.
To the left (from 1975) Viacom states that big money can be made off the 5 Elvis Presley movies they own.
By the time the 1977 ad to the right was printed, Viacom had released their (now 7) Elvis movies as complete versions on 8mm.
A German imported version of the Viacom release, from the USA, of King Creole on 5 reels.
The official German Inter-Pathé release of the same movie.
The Movie Money 1 x 400 version (of a Viacom print) of Roustabout.
The Movie Money 1 x 400 reel of Paradise, Hawaiian Style, in both the original and Spanish language version.
Paradise, Hawaiian Style (with the Girls! Girls! Girls! cover), together with Roustabout, was once more released, this time in many different language variations. A simple sticker on the cover (denoting the specific language) was the only difference in the covers of these two 120 meter reels.
Towards the end of the Super 8 era, there were 4 fantastic releases that did very well with the fans.
First there was the abridged version of Change Of Habit, released by Universal (1980).
Then came the hit movie Viva Las Vegas, released in Germany by UFA (1981), who also released Elvis The Movie (entitled Elvis The King).
Derann’s final release was an abridged version of Elvis The Movie which focuses on the concert part of the movie.
Stay tuned for more Elvis on Super 8 … SOON!