The first time I was made aware that there was a lot of previously unseen footage from That's The Way It Is in circulation must have been in Memphis during Elvis Week 2005. A guy at the hotel where I was staying approached me and asked if I would like to buy 11 DVDs with outtakes from the movie.
That amount of material sounded incredible but the price he asked for, US $500, was a little too much for my taste. And anyway, I was going to Graceland for the first time in my life and had my thoughts elsewhere.
Earlier this year, with the news of a forthcoming two-disc special edition of TTWII, my interest in unreleased material was awoken. I thought we were in for a treat, but boy was I wrong. What we got was about 35 minutes of outtakes in poor picture quality with the sound so low you can barely hear what's going on.
Finally realising that official channels weren't going to get me what I was asking for I recently ordered three import DVDs from the Unites States with nearly four hours of outtakes from the movie, containing about 80 songs.
I received these DVDs just a couple of days ago and have been busy viewing them since. The picture quality isn't the best, but the amount of material is overwhelming and the sound quality is great. And the price was nowhere near US $500!
It's great fun watching these outtakes, such as "Patch It Up" that have Elvis lying on the floor at the end of the song. Or seeing him taking a quick smoke from someone in the audience right before "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
Also, the film sequences shot of stage are fascinating stuff. One example of this is footage of Elvis and parts of the Memphis Mafia passing (I think) the canteen in the hotel on their way to the elevator that will take them up to Elvis suite.
But what really hits me when I'm looking at these import DVDs is how much better the official products could have been, both the special edition released in 2001 and the one this year. A lot of the outtakes have been mixed by the movie company obviously intended for commercial release. Why that didn't happen is anybodies guess.
One thing's for sure though. The opening remarks in the 2001 edition that "most of the footage remained lost...until now" is obviously a lie. It still remains lost, at least officially.