Put on your blue suede shoes and swing your hips for 1956's 'Love Me Tender,' which marked the first film for the King of Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley. Oddly enough, this was one of Presley's only serious films, as over the next decade, he would star in 30 or so silly and fun films, complete with musical numbers to woo his ever-growing audience. Sure, 'Love Me Tender' has a few musical numbers in it by the man himself, including the movie title, but his first film was more of a serious one, lacking any really entertaining sequences, other than seeing Elvis in a Western, singing to his love interest.
It's funny that Elvis is top billed on this Blu-ray cover, as he doesn't show up until the half hour mark, at which point there is only an hour left of the movie. But Elvis, being who he was, drew a big crowd, and no matter how asinine the story was or how little of the film he was in, you could bet that each of his movies made a decent amount of money. Even the film 'Clambake,' in which he left his father's multi-billion dollar company to check out hot girls in Florida and become a water-ski instructor, made good money. Laughable.
In 'Love Me Tender', we follow the Reno Brothers, led by Vance Reno (Richard Egan), who are confederate soldiers during the Civil War. He and his brothers Ray (James Drury) and Brett (William Campbell) believe they are owed riches for being in war and decide to rob a train full of cash. They are successful, however they're also not aware that the war has actually ended as of a few days earlier, thus making them big-time criminals. Unaware of this, the brothers make their way back to the family farm to see their family.
Once they arrive, their mother (Mildred Dunnock) and their youngest brother Clint (Presley), thinking they died in the war, are shocked to see that they are alive and well. However, not all is happy on the homefront as Clint married Vance's girlfriend Cathy (Debra Paget), who still loves Vance. At first, Vance is polite and seems happy about the awkward situation, but tensions soon boil over.
Meanwhile, the government is out looking for the three Reno brothers for their robbery as they are trying to retrieve the cash back. We then see a series of betrayals, lies, and legal troubles between the family members, but not without a few musical numbers from the rock icon himself. This all leads up to a climactic shoot-out that is less than stellar.
The film itself is mostly slow paced and a bore to watch. Sure, seeing Elvis in his first film is fun, but only for a few minutes. The acting is sub-par, as everyone seems to be one note and doesn't offer a lot of entertaining moments besides the musical numbers. Other than this being the first time we saw Elvis on the big-screen, I don't think this film has much appeal, even for true Western fans. But for fans of Elvis, this is a must see, even if the film is run-of-the-mill.
'Love Me Tender' has an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The entire film was shot in black and white and it's transfer and upgrade to Blu-ray is phenomenal. The detail is amazing as we can see fine detail in the actor's faces and Civil War costumes. With this new upgrade, the picture even has an added depth of the rural landscapes and railroad scenes. Even the backgrounds look crisp and clear here.
The image is free of any banding, edge enhancement, dirt, or compression issues. There are some minor instances of motion blur, but nothing that distracts you form the overall picture. The blacks run deep and inky with no crush whatsoever. I was surprised on how good this image looked. Top quality all around here.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix as well as a DTS-HD 1.0 mono audio mix. Both sound similar, with the exception of some of the ambient noises and a few sound effects making their way softly to the surrounds. When those sounds travel from the rears, it's very low, but you can still make them out. Other than that, both mixes sound terrific and have been cleaned and polished for this Blu-ray release.
The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand with all the pops, cracks, and hissing removed and cleaned up. At times, some of the higher pitched vocals during the musical numbers sound a little to tweaked , but other than that, this is one heck of an audio presentation, given this film is almost 60 years old.
While it might not be the most entertaining or the silliest of the Elvis film archive, it certainly marks an important part of cinema history, which is the first time Elvis appeared on the big screen. The film itself is dull, but it has a few good moments. The video and audio presentations are top notch here and look and sound amazing. The extras are decent with a fun commentary as well. For fans of Elvis, this is a must own.