Reviews

DVD Reviews

 

Leonard Maltin, Jan 29, 2004
 

I’ve always felt that the mark of a good documentary is its ability to draw you in even if you don’t know or care that much about the subject. 200 Cadillacs is an unpretentious hour-long film about one aspect of Elvis Presley’s life that’s making its debut on DVD from Image Entertainment.

Elvis had a lifelong love of Cadillacs, and he chose to give them away to colleagues, friends, and people who did him a good turn... he even gave them to total strangers on the spur of the moment. Many of those recipients are interviewed in this film, from the cops who worked security for him on tour to a nurse who cared for his health, and they paint a warm and vivid picture of the entertainer.

I like Elvis well enough, but I’m not a devotee, and I never thought I’d find this film as compelling as I did..

 

Nigel Patterson (Source: EIN January 8, 2004)

The brainchild of Rex Fowler, 200 Cadillacs takes the viewer on a journey into the stories behind Elvis' love of giving Cadillacs to friends and complete strangers.  This is an important release about Elvis as it opens up a known but little publicised part of Elvis' personality.  ...
 
The documentary features more than 200 photos of Elvis, many of them previously unpublished, and there are some great shots to look at.
 
There are many wonderful stories in 200 Cadillacs.  Apart from its titular focus, the documentary goes beyond just the giving of Cadillacs to Elvis the humanitarian and Elvis the emotionally concerned friend. The stories include Elvis' response to the death of a friend's brother, an incident involving Myrna Smith, Elvis and a $30,000 Diamond Ring, and drama concerning the first TCB Necklace. 
 
A highlight of 200 Cadillacs is its strong, rock and roll, sometimes bluesy soundtrack.  The music complements the narrative to a tee, and will have many fans rushing out to buy the companion soundtrack album.  A fitting blend of lyrical sentiment, rock & roll musicality and strategic placement combine to give the story added impact.
 
Some of the standout tracks are the poignant 'Shine A Little Light On Elvis', the title track and 'Running With The King'.  Many of the songs were composed and performed by Rex Fowler.

Verdict: 200 Cadillacs is an important documentary shedding much needed light on an often overlooked part of the Elvis Presley story.  With a persuasive narrative, fine editing and an in your face soundtrack, it is highly recommended for both the casual fan and serious student of The King.  200 Cadillacs ranks as one of the best Elvis documentaries ever made.

 

 

source: www.Elvisnews.com

One of the songs on the soundtrack says it well: “How about some credit where the credit is due”; not only the “legendary” story of Elvis just giving away cars, but the reason behind it, trying to help people out or just saying “thank you” his way, not only giving material things, but most of all giving help, friendship and love. This DVD is one of the best documentaries released lately, putting the record straight on the man and the Cadillac myth.

CD Reviews

Nigel Patterson (Source: EIN January 8, 2004)

The CD starts with Elvis declaring “I suppose you know I’ve got a lot of cars..” 

This is the perfect beginning for a fabulous & fun cruise through a delightful selection of songs about the life & myths of Elvis Presley, and I haven’t been as impressed with a new CD in a very long time.

 

Including songs from the excellent ‘200 Cadillacs’ DVD this is a wonderful mix of Country & Western, Blues and Rockabilly. The songs all have an Elvis connection and many of them feature lyrics that capture the fascination of Elvis’ life perfectly in just three minutes!

 

Rex Fowler, who conceived & produced the DVD, features on 5 tracks and proves himself to be a very talented composer. Other tracks are by Carl Perkins and even Paul Burlinson, Mavis Staples with Levon Helm (of the classic group ‘The Band') are represented with their excellent bluesy take on ‘Hound Dog’. While you might not be familiar with some of the newer bands, all the songs fit perfectly together and made me want to investigate them further. 

 

Some tracks reminded me of the fun of The Dixie Chicks, while other songs hint at the wonderful story telling of Chris Isaak or Sheryl Crow. I also felt the rockabilly vibe of Brian Setzer & The Stray Cats at their early & best. The discovery of Carl Perkins’ unreleased version of John Hiatt’s ‘Memphis In The Meantime’, with its delicious ‘Mystery Train’ feel, is also a great find.  

 

Heather Eatman captures a poignant moment in ‘Too Tired To Be Elvis’, The Cucumbers will get you dancing with ‘Blue Cadillac’, while Jon Pousette-Dart grabs a perfect slice of Elvis history in ‘Running With Elvis’ - “Running with the King at the height of his rein, was like trying to hold on to a runaway train.”

 

From the first track ‘200 Cadillacs’, via Syd Straw’s brilliant tale of sorrow and jealousy ‘Listening to Elvis’, through to the finale ‘Shine A Little Light’ this is a fabulous journey worth driving through again & again.

 

This is perfect cruising music and I often found myself laughing out loud at the fabulous lyrics while coasting through Sydney’s beaches, hi-fi turned up loud, in my purring Pink Cadillac.

This CD is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in Elvis, good story-telling and great music. 

 

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Lee Zimmerman/South Florida Entertainment News & Views (Miami)

"There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of films documenting the life and impact of Elvis Presley, but it seems somehow appropriate that 25 years after his passing, a new documentary should appear that chronicles a side of "The King" that's rarely referred to.  Much has been said about his contributions to the world of music, but little is ever mentioned about his generosity in other aspects of his life, the gifts he gave those to whom he was closest.  It was said that Elvis gave away 200 Cadillacs and it was that side of the Presley personality that sparked the creation of 200 Cadillacs, a movie that purports to track down the recipients of those motorized mementos.

"The film's score combines songs written by the project's co-producer, Rex Fowler of the Boston band, Astec Two-Step, selections penned by John Hiatt, Jon Pousette-DArt, Heather Eatman, Scott Kempner of the Del Lords and others, with cover versions of two of Presley's signature songs, "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up."  While most of the songs seek to emulate the rockabilly style that Elvis brought to prominence during his stint with Sun Records, Fowler's composition are the most affecting, each paying tribute through empathy and affection.  The title tune, which starts with a recitation by Elvis himself, sets the tone.  "Tough & Tender" effectively captures the soul of the man and a humanity that's often overshadowed by lurid tales of drugs and excess.  Likewise, "Shine A Little LIght" provides a fitting epitaph and the album's ideal coda, a heartfelt paen to a man who, despite his faults and often bizarre behavior, remains the essential American idol, and the single most influential individual to ever grace the annals of rock 'n'' roll.

"Some soundtracks work best in the context of the movie they were meant to accompany.  200 Cadillacs stands along and remains immensely enjoyable  on its own."


 

From All Music Guide:
Review by William Ruhlmann

Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step had the idea of making a documentary film about what happened to the 200 (more or less) Cadillacs that Elvis Presley gave away to friends, relatives, and strangers during his lifetime, a charming and imaginative idea for a new take on the king of rock & roll. Being a musician, Fowler naturally wrote songs for the film commenting on Presley and performed in his rockabilly style; the result is equally charming and imaginative, especially because of the extra guests. These include long-standing indie rock favorites like Syd Straw, the Del Lords, and the Cucumbers, who add their own reflections on Presley and even perform some of his music. There is a Cucumbers' version of "All Shook Up" and a rendition of "Hound Dog" contributed by Paul Burlison with Levon Helm and Mavis Staples. Best of all is a previously unreleased recording of Carl Perkins doing John Hiatt's "Memphis in the Meantime." The 200 Cadillacs album is a good companion not only to the film, but also to anyone's Elvis Presley collection.

 

 

 

 

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