Saturday, March 04, 2023

Review 8mm Elvis - The Forgotten Format

Movie fan and 8mm film collector Vince Wright stated on his website: “I was cataloguing all these films but hoping someone would write a book about it - I waited, they didn’t, so I did”. 

Let’s have a look at the result of his work. 

The 160-page hardcover book comes as a replica 8mm storage box, sized 22 by 22 cm. An original and fitting choice from the author. The glossy finish of the cover, quality paper and built in bookmark make it a deluxe publication.
Inside the book, the design is fresh and easy on the eye. Wright’s writing is informative and from a personal point of view. Being an Elvis fan and collector, I can really identify myself with his experiences, hunting down and discovering new items for your collection. Having worked in the 8mm business - at Derann Film Services - Wright was also able to add some professional behind-the-scenes insights and inside stories how deals for a release were struck or releases came about.
The author shows that he knows his Elvis, most of the chapter-titles for the background articles are song titles from our man, very nice!
Wright used a mix of items from his own collection (the wooden underground on many pictures could be a give-a-way) and material provided by befriended collectors, which gives the book kind-off a scrapbook feel. I must make a remark on the editing of the pictures, some could have been edited a better. But I can also understand the choice not to cut-off to much of the borders and llosing part of the item, just to fill-out a picture 100% to all sides. 
Vince Wright covered almost everything there is to know (and learn) about Elvis on the forgotten 8mm movie format. Starting with the origin of the format and technical details, the companies that released the material like Derann and Red Fox, the marketing and of course the Elvis Presley releases from the early 8mm-films until the digital compilations from the Pyramid import-label which offered fans a glimpse on the 8mm material previously only available to high-end collectors. The book focuses on the Elvis movies, the live content is covered in just 1 chapter, taking the forgotten format into the 21st century. 
What I really liked were the many different covers, or perhaps I should say great covers, because some of them looked very attractive. Fortunately Wright printed many of them full-page. Highlights were the ‘G.I. Blues’ (Derran), most of the Viacom releases like ‘Girls! Girls! Girls’ and ‘Roustabout’, the Italian ‘Fun In Acapulco’, the German ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and ‘G.I. Blues’, showing a picture of Elvis recording in the studio (the same picture used by Viacom for ‘King Creole’) and Spanish ‘Roustabout’, with a tough looking Elvis on the cover. All of this illustrated with well-researched background information and memorabilia.
Interesting to learn that a lot of the material we take for granted on DVD and YouTube was distributed on this forgotten format to, and amongst fans. Often not even complete, but only short fragments. 
The 8mm tapes brought Elvis to your home in the days before video, DVD or digital platforms.This is how many fans saw clips of Elvis wedding, press-conferences and even clips from the fifties T.V. shows. It makes you realize how lucky we are today!
Just like reading discography books on Elvis’ catalog from a distant country, this book is like a little treasure chest showing ancient treasures I’ll never own. Is the book complete? Probably not 100 percent, just type “Elvis 8mm” in Google’s search bar and you will find some more oddities. 

And according to 8mm collector Gerrit de Jong the Red Fox 8mm releases of 'Love Me Tender', 'Songs from King Creole' and 'Songs from Viva Las Vegas' are missing, but these are not general releases as the author explained. But that is in no way a problem, as there is always more material to be discovered. The material inside this book only took the author 30 years to collect …
Vince Wright took care of business! Tired of waiting for one of the experts to write a book on “Elvis on 8mm”, he took matters in his own hand and wrote and published the book himself. 
The result is an entertaining and insightful book that catalogues the history of Elvis on 8mm film and really fills a gap in the Elvis Presley library. 
For this fan the book opened a new world. 

With the many 8mm DVD’s coming out the past few years, it is good to know the origin of the format. For some fans it will bring back memories of the early days, for others it is a valuable reference, and for fans like me, it is a great introduction into an unknown part of Elvis legacy. 

The book is available from Vince Wright's website at >>> 8mm Elvis and >>> Elvis 4 Sale.