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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Civil War > Music > Love Me Tender (1956/Fox Blu-ray)/War Flowers (2013/Green Apple DVD)

Love Me Tender (1956/Fox Blu-ray)/War Flowers (2013/Green Apple DVD)


Picture: B/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/C-     Films: C+/C




By coincidence, we have two Civil War dramas to look at that show the current cycle is played out and there is little more to say on the subject for now.  Still, you should know about them.



The first is Robert D. Webb’s Love Me Tender (1956), the motion picture debut of Elvis Presley that was originally a total drama set in 1865 as the War was winding down, but that takes even more of a back seat with any sense of history as we suddenly get music numbers that barely resemble anything from 1865 and became a launching vehicle for The King versus the melodrama with a romantic triangle of sorts it was turned into.


Fox has issued the film on DVD before and now, joining other key Elvis films on Blu-ray (including some great ones we have reviewed elsewhere on this site) makes its High Definition debut looking as good as it likely ever will.  Richard Egan is a soldier who is assumed dead, so when he is presumed dead, his gal (Debra Paget) lands up marrying his youngest brother (Elvis) which is fine until he turns out to be alive.


This is all disturbing and likely more common a situation than you would think in war situations, but the screenplay allows the drama to often take a back seat to Elvis (who shows up 20+ minutes in the film) singing and being Elvis for the first time on a big screen.  Paramount had Elvis under contract, but this was considered such a sure fire project, that they lent him out to Fox and the result was a hit film, hit song atypical of Elvis’ Rock tunes and it all broadened his audience and cemented his mega success.


The film is not great despite some good performances and the romance putting the War in the background echoes Gone With The Wind by default, but like so many later films built around a hit song or potential hit song, it is weak overall and even at 89 minutes, tends to drag often.  Still, it is historically significant and worth a look.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Elvis historian Jerry Schilling and four Making Of featurettes: Elvis Hits Hollywood, The Colonel & The King, Love Me Tender: The Birth & Boom Of The Elvis Hits and Love Me Tender: The Soundtrack.



Forward 57 years later and we get Serge Rodnunsky’s War Flowers (2013) with Christina Ricci playing a mother whose husband may be dead from the War and still has a daughter to look after.  However, danger is ahead as battles rage on and some of the action comes her way for the worst.  Jason Gedrick plays a Union Soldier who is injured and talks her into letting him secretly stay after breaking into her home, but some Confederate Soldiers are near and a few have harassing her, her daughter and worst in mind.


Tom Berenger (playing to type at this point) is a head Union Soldier who has a stake in everything going on, but can he help out when things get really awful?

I liked the idea of Ricci in a small production that pairs away visual effects and forces her to fill in the spacer with her acting and a few scenes do work, but I was mostly unimpressed with the way this was written, directed, edited and the camerawork is inconsistent, shark and sometimes sloppy.  This is bound to be a curio for fans of the actors and that War, but it did little for me and the battles were also awkwardly handled.


The only extra are a Behind The Scenes featurette and a Trailer.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 black and white AVC @ 33 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Tender uses a print that is in really good shape, but the image can look flat and limited beyond the limits of the older CinemaScope lens system that has its inherent distortions, which hurts detail.  However, it is real monochrome film stock in true widescreen and is not bad looking overall.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Flowers is an HD shoot and has its share of motion blur and image flaws noted above, but color is decent and the presentation is good if not great.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is on Tender is an upgrade of the original monophonic sound also here as a separate DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix, but most of the 5.1 Tender is still monophonic, stuck in the center channel and even the music barely benefits from the 5.1 over the 1.0 track, so the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Flowers with no serious surrounds and many parts either quiet or in simple stereo can more than match it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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