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Elvis fans can rejoice because JAILHOUSE ROCK ($25) is among the DVD format’s earliest releases! Now it can truly be said that the King lives, at least on DVD. JAILHOUSE ROCK is among Elvis Presley’s best films. Unlike his later films, which were usually mindless fodder, JAILHOUSE ROCK has a good story that allows Elvis to do some acting and deliver a credible character. In JAILHOUSE ROCK Elvis portrays a blue-collar worker who goes to jail for manslaughter after a barroom brawl. While in prison, he hooks up with a former country singer that recognizes his natural talent and tutors him in the finer points of being an entertainer. Prison makes Elvis’ character bitter, but when he is finally released, his talent and tenacity lead to a meteoric rise to stardom. JAILHOUSE ROCK also features some scenes of the King with a "life imitating art" entourage. How prophetic this film turned out to be. Joining Elvis in JAILHOUSE ROCK are Judy Tyler as the woman who helps him get started, Mickey Shaughnessy as the former country singer, and Jennifer Holden as the Hollywood bombshell. Dean Jones, Vaughn Taylor and Anne Neyland are also featured in the cast.

MGM Home Entertainment offers JAILHOUSE ROCK in both Letterboxed and pan and scan transfers on opposite sides of the DVD. JAILHOUSE ROCK was produced in CinemaScope so watching the pan and scan version is like seeing only half the movie. The black and white pan and scan transfer is slightly fuzzy and grainy, since the film element has to be blown up to the dimensions of a television monitor. Also, minor imperfections in the film element become quite noticeable on the pan and scan version. Since JAILHOUSE ROCK made use of the entire CinemaScope frame, the cropped transfer is full of annoying artificial pans. The Letterboxed transfer restores the essential of the theatrical framing, without anything appearing noticeably cropped. The black and white image has an excellent black level, good contrast and a fine level of detail. The film element itself is in good shape, with only minor blemishes. Digital artifacts were never a problem on the Letterboxed version and only slightly more obvious on the pan and scan version.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is presented in one channel monaural, with reasonable fidelity. The dialog is always clear and intelligible, and the musical numbers sound good for a film of this vintage. Other soundtrack options include French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow the standard scene and language access features, as well as a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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