Elvis ’56 (1987), Writer

Nominee, Best Documentary, U.S. Film Festival

Produced for Cinemax in l987 on the tenth anniversary of Elvis’s death, Elvis ’56 was a dream project that teamed Torgoff with the Academy-Award-winning husband and wife team of Alan and Susan Raymond, makers of groundbreaking cinema verite documentaries like An American Family and The Police Tapes. With the full cooperation of Elvis’s estate and RCA, the film focused on a single year in Elvis’s life: the year he went from Sun to RCA and changed the course of popular music forever. Drawing on kinescopes of television appearances and thousands of never before seen photos from the archives of Al Wertheimer--assigned by RCA to follow Elvis for that entire year--the film was narrated by Levon Helm of the Band, which gave Torgoff the opportunity to write the narration in Elvis’s southern vernacular (Levon was from Little Rock, right across the river from Memphis). The result was a film acclaimed as not only one of the best about Elvis, but one of the best ever produced on a rock and roll figure, cited by people like Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan as one of their personal favorites. 


Mesmerizing.
— Newsweek

Never has it been presented with such drama and such an awareness of the political and social character of the time. Hats off to Martin Torgoff’s script, Alan and Susan Raymond’s seamless direction and Levon Helm’s stately narration.
— Rolling Stone

A must-see.
— Daily News

The best Elvis documentary I have seen…manages to pack in what so many of the Presley projects of the last ten years have lacked: Dignity and humanity.
— Chicago Sun-Times

Extraordinary…It gets to the heart of the Elvis phenomenon.
— The New York Times

A portrait of Presley at his moment of emergence, and they bring that moment back so vividly that you begin to feel like maybe cars still have fins and Cokes cost a nickel.
— Tom Shales, The Washington Post
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