"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)


"There were rock 'n' roll records before Heartbreak Hotel, but this was the one that didn't just open the door…it literally blasted the door off its rusted, rotten, anachronistic hinges…. producing....no propelling...an unstoppable, fundamental and primordial shift in not only musical... but social, political and cultural history"

(JNP, BBC website)


"Elvis, the musician, is largely a relic belonging to the baby boomer generation...Elvis, the icon, is arguably one of the most potent symbols of popular culture"

( Dr. John Walker)

















































































































































































































































































EIN Interview with Rick Schmidlin, Producer of "TTWII" Special Edition 2000

In the year 2000, EIN had an exclusive interview with Rick Schmidlin, film archivist, restorer and Producer of Elvis That's The Way It Is - 2000 Special Edition.

Rick has some fascinating things to say about TTWII, the restoration process and in the year 2000 even considered 'Elvis On Tour' as his next Elvis project!

(Rick Schmildlin right, with his completed project)

The EIN Rick Schmidlin Interview -

EIN: You are well known in the film world for your excellent work on Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" restoring it to the original "Directors Cut" and you also restored the 1925 Von Stroheim classic "Greed" - What brought you to work on TTWII ?

RS: I was called by Roger Mayer President of Turner Entertainment to see if I was an Elvis fan and was asked if I would like to do a special edition of TTWII and I said yes in a heart beat.

EIN: The original TTWII contained some very odd footage (of some rather bizarre Elvis fans) and had the continuity of "The performance" disappointingly broken up between every song. Do you think this is what the original Director Dennis Sanders envisaged, or do you think he was compromised by MGM?

RS: I think it was Col Tom's idea of selling Elvis to the Bible belt, today we would call what he did propaganda. For the time it was pretty cool propaganda, I saw the film at the Viewmont Mall in Scranton, Pennsylvania when it first came out and loved it. I think it was good for the time it was made.

At the time it seemed to be edited so as to have fans show that Elvis was still "cool". It was propaganda by Colonel Parker to sell Elvis and his "new persona". Now everybody knows Elvis is cool and so we can show more of his dynamic performance. In the original movie they had a mono sound-mix, that I also hated because it was recorded with a 16 track recorder.

EIN: The new sound is fantastic, sensational in fact. How were the 16 tracks set up? 

RS: By 1970 16 track recordings were "the thing", unfortunately the guys who mic-ed it were very inexperienced with the idea of mix. There was only one mic for Ronny and two for the entire orchestra mixed in one channel yet Charlie Hodge got two! I used Bruce Botnic for the mix, he engineered the The Doors albums and produced the L.A. Woman Album. Bruce is one of the best still around. He did it as a favour for Elvis.

EIN: Is it true that you had the original idea of re-editing TTWII ? Did you have to sell the idea to Turner Entertainment or had they already conceived the project?

RS: Ernst Jorgensen was key in proposing the project to Turner. As for me when I received success and awards for "Greed" and then they found I was a die-hard Elvis fan well it clicked and I won.

EIN: Your work is very varied - you also produced two highly rated documentaries on "The Doors" - Is music a first love of yours?

RS: Music and Film are my loves and bringing the best to fans is what my career goal has been. I was a lighting director for bands like X, The Cramps, The Blasters, The Go Go's, The Gun Club and others in the early 80's. When MTV came in I produced X videos with Ray Manzarek former Doors keyboard player directing, that is what joined my two loves.

EIN: As a matter of interest have you always been an Elvis fan and do you see similarities to his work and Jim Morrison's?

RS: Morrison, Sinatra and Elvis are all tunesmiths but Elvis did what Sinatra couldn't, Morrison loved Elvis and learned a lot from him, but Elvis is the one who changed, wrote and set the rules for everybody.

EIN: If you weren't an Elvis fan before your involvement with 'Elvis That's The Way It Is' what is your view on Elvis now?

RS: I was a Elvis fan since I first saw Roustabout at The Orentani Theater in Hackensack New Jersey with my boyhood friend Bruce Manning when it first came out. What this special edition did for others and me is show the most honest portrait of Elvis ever. Saunders directed the camera and Elvis directed the action and let us know who he really was. I really felt like I got to know Elvis.

EIN: 'Patch It Up. The Restoration of Elvis That's The Way It Is' ? EIN would have loved to have seen a much longer behind-the-scenes documentary, one with in-depth coverage of the restoration process and decision making process on why certain tracks made it in and others were left out. Do you have a personal view on this and how it could have been added to?

RS: I had no say on Patch It Up, sorry.

EIN: In the Patch It Up feature, it says that missing film was searched for and found in the film Vaults in old mines 3 kms underground - Was this film footage discovered before you started the project ?

RS: Roger Mayer was responsible for this find. What I did find was the original 16 track masters.

EIN: Was it you who initiated the search of the vaults and did you have a big crew working with you ?

RS: I had two assistant editors who pestered everybody until we felt we found everything there was to find.

EIN: Turner Entertainment released the video "The Lost Performances" in 1992 with some TTWII outtakes; had the new footage been discovered as far back as then?

RS: Some but not all, Turner found a lot more of the original negative two miles underground in there Kansas storage facility and I found the original 16 tracks on the Warner Brothers lot in the archives un labelled.

EIN: Is there now enough extra new footage for The Lost Performances Vol 2?

RS: We will see.

EIN: What visual and audio quality is the rest of the material, and would you be involved or like to be involved in its production?

RS: Everything I have seen is fantastic and YES, I would love to continue working for the fans of Elvis.

EIN: We asked the previous question as prior to the release of Elvis That's The Way It Is (2000 edition) on video and DVD there was a suggestion that an additional 60 minutes of new footage would be included. Many fans were very disappointed when this didn't happen. Were you under pressure to keep the film shorter?

RS: I and some of those involved at Turner are as sad about this as you. The people at Turner had nothing but good intentions.

EIN: Was the re-editing of the film driven by what missing material that you found or had you already worked out the concept and just hoped that you would find the missing footage?

RS: We didn't know what would happen until it was done. I was told to take out the talking heads and put in some new footage. I don't think anybody thought it would be this good.

EIN: Once you had viewed all of the archival footage, what were your major challenges in restoring it to a cinema acceptable level?

RS: The print quality and negative. To match the old film and the new footage to make it seamless

EIN: How painstaking was the restoration and what were the primary technical processes/tools you used?

RS: Well I didn't sleep right for six months. The film was edited on a light works by Michael Salomon who happens to married to a woman from down under.
We mixed the film at Todd AO one of the best mixing stages in the world. Bruce Botnick who worked on all the Doors albums and Produced L.A. Women was at the board. We did the lab work at FotoKem in Burbank. One great story the guy who did the colour timing showed up with his wife first sneak screening for crewmembers on the project and friends. This was the first time he ever brought his wife in his thirty-year career to this kind of screening. A timer has to watch the movies 25 to 50 times before it goes out of the lab. The last thing he wants to do is see a film on his off-hours that he worked on. WH did he bring her and show? She was at the International for one of the filmed shows. She cried during the entire screening that night.

EIN: We were amazed by the quality of the new soundtrack that really focussed the audience on Elvis' performance. At the film's premiere in Sydney the crowd was clapping and cheering Elvis exactly as if we were watching him in Concert. Was re-mixing the film soundtrack a completely different process to the remix of the CD set and did you work with Dennis Ferrante who re-mixed the CD?

RS: You bet it was different we mixed it on a big stage in the state of the art. Same stage that Spielberg uses. I wanted the theatre audience to hear and feel the full concert experience with balls out sound.

EIN: We would love you to clarify something for fans. We have read about your frustration in not being able to get the rights for "Are You Lonesome Tonight" for the film - which surprisingly was OK'd for "Elvis The Concert". EIN would have thought that MGM/Turner would have the rights to the film footage and surely the rights to song itself has been OK'd 1000 times before for every Elvis release? How can they say "no" to you using the footage for the video? After all isn't it just more money in their pocket for the same song ?

RS: The owner of that song is not Elvis friendly, film rights are different than "The Concert"

EIN: What did it feel like for you to see "Suspicious Minds" back in the charts in England, and to realize that you helped put Elvis high in the Top Twenty again - personally helping put his hits singles across into the new Millennium and in front of a new generation?

RS: I'm ‘All Shook Up’ !

EIN: Fans really miss the classic songs such as 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and 'Just Can't Help Believing' that were in the first version. Was there a specific rationale between the tracks that you chose for the new version - for instance, was there no newly discovered footage of those particular two songs, or was it just a matter of film duration?

RS: We had to make judgment calls on how the footage cut together. We did the best we could and I am sorry some are disappointed. Those songs were chosen to be put into the original concept of the 'extended DVD' and in regard to 'Bridge' we actually thought the performance in rehearsal was stronger.

EIN: As a matter of interest why was 'In the Ghetto' included in the re-edit but not 'Don't Cry Daddy' which is actual part of the same medley?

RS: The reason for that was that our editor Mike felt that there was a problem with the camera footage for 'Don't Cry Daddy' and that it would have caused the concert to loose momentum. Don't Cry Daddy was supposed to go on the DVD. We do feel that the performances that we included in the film are Elvis's and the bands strongest performances.

EIN: What about the marketing of the DVD?

RS: From what I know, Turner originally wanted to include the extra footage on the DVD and then changed their mind - but that was a marketing thing over which I had no control.

EIN: We understand you were present at the special screening of That's The Way It Is for Priscilla and Lisa Marie. What were their reactions to seeing the new Edition?

RS: Priscilla could not sit still she rocked in her seat. Elvis' grandchildren loved the film and Lisa really loved the rehearsal footage and her father's sense of humor.

EIN: Are you involved in the restoration of Elvis On Tour?

RS: I have seen all the footage, but that’s all so far.

EIN: What does Rick Schmidlin do in his spare time?

RS: What spare time? I love movies, music "Elvis, Elvis, Elvis" ski, boogie boarding, riding my bike by the sea.

EIN: Do you feel that your film restoration, discovering 'lost material' and making sense of Cinematic history is where your true achievements are?

RS: Yes, I want to find out what the great master's intended. On "Touch of Evil" we see Welles was still at the top of his form at 42, On "Greed" we learn the Von Stroheim was right with his vision and with "Elvis, That's The Way It Is" we show the world what his fans already knew, he was is the king!. I think this film gives you the most personal look of Elvis ever. I call it Elvis on his own terms.

EIN: What major goals do you want to achieve in the future?

RS: To continue producing Elvis projects and to continue giving Elvis fans the quality they deserve.

EIN: Rick, once again many thanks for taking the time to talk to EIN. We know thousands of fans will appreciate your insights into the making of That's The Way It Is (2000 Edition)

Rick Schmidlin was interviewed by Piers Beagley & Nigel Patterson for EIN. Copyright Elvis Information Network, 2000.

Click Here & make sure you read Harley Payette's excellent Spotlight comparing both the Original & Re-Cut versions of the film 'That's The Way It Is'

Click to comment on this interview


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"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)