Elvis Presley: The Searcher

Synopsis: Elvis Presley's evolution as a musician and a man.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Thom Zimny
Production: HBO Documentary Films
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min


Priscilla Presley:

Elvis was a searcher.

It's a part of him

that never left.


The following program

is brought to you

in living color, on NBC.

Singer presents Elvis,

starring Elvis Presley

in his first TV special,

his first personal performance

on TV in nearly ten years.

(blues music playing)

If you're lookin'

for trouble

You came to the right place

If you're lookin'

for trouble

Just look right in my face

I was born standin' up

And talkin' back

My daddy was

a green-eyed mountain jack

Because I'm evil

My middle name is Misery

Well, I'm evil

Ah, so don't you

mess around with me


In '68, he was

a nervous wreck.

Nervous because he didn't know

if his audience was

going to accept him.

People had not seen him

perform in so long.

It felt like his record career

was over as well.

It was intense.

The '68 Special,

it was either the beginning

or the end of his career.

Tom Petty:

You know, God bless him.

He was a light for all of us.

We all owe him

for going first into battle.

(Petty laughs)

He had no road map,

and he forged a path

of what to do

and what not to do.

We shouldn't

make the mistake

of writing off

a great artist

by all the clatter

that came later.

We should dwell in what he did

that was so beautiful

and everlasting,

which was that

great, great music.


Yes, my baby left me

Never said a word

Was it something I done

Something that she heard?

My baby left me,

my baby left me

My baby even left me

Never said a word

Lord, I stand at my window

Wring my hands and cry

I hate to lose that woman

Hate to say goodbye

You know, she left me

Yeah, she left me

My baby even left me

Never said a word

Play it blues, boy

(film projector whirring)

Jerry Schilling:

Elvis always remembered

what it was like

to have nothing,

and to have no respect,

to be looked down upon.


Elvis never forgot

the experience

of being in poverty, ever.

It stuck with him

all his life.

When I look at photos of Elvis

when he was young,

I see that little boy in him,

that playfulness,

the curiosity in his eyes.

But I also see how he felt

responsibility for his mother.

Bill Ferris:

Elvis was born

in a shotgun house.

The poorest of the poor

lived in those houses.

His twin brother

did not survive birth.

And it's said that

his mother would tell him

that if he sang when

the moon was full at night,

his twin brother

could hear him.


Gladys was a doting mother,

but she could be

quite firm as well.

Always very protective of him.

He was her only child.

She lived for him, and...

he lived for her.

When Elvis was

three years old in 1938,

his father was sentenced

to three years in prison

for forging a check.

The check was to buy food

to put on the table.

Gladys would take him

to see his father.

Vernon was so embarrassed.

John Jackson:

Thankfully, he doesn't have

to spend the three years.

He only spends

six months in prison.

But what it does is

it starts a pattern

of Vernon being away

and Elvis and Gladys being

left to their own devices.

And they move around and live

in different boarding houses.


This was the end

of the Depression.

Vernon, after that experience

at Parchman Prison,

he had a hard time

finding jobs.


Elvis told me that his father

really lost his spirit.

And his mother had to work

really hard during that time.


Yes, that's it.

(guitar playing)

Ready here for the slate. 802.

(music continues)


Steve Binder:

When I first got

the phone call

to get involved with Elvis...

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Alan Light

Alan Light (born August 4, 1966) is an American journalist who has been a rock critic for Rolling Stone and the editor-in-chief for both Vibe and Spin. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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