Have you gone to Windows Update and installed all of the updates (including non-critical)? Have you installed the latest Quicktime? How about the latest firmware for your video graphics card (from the ATI or nVidia site). This support is vital, particularly in Vista, for running this program.
Beyond that, try holding down the Shift key as you launch the program to clear the cache.
If it still doesn't work, I urge you to contact Adobe's Tech Support. Even if they can't help you, it will make them aware that there are issues in this program that need to be addressed.
This is aimed a Premiere Pro, but may help
First, work through all of the steps here http://ppro.wikia.com/wiki/Troubleshooting
If your problem isn't fixed after you follow all of the steps, report back with the DETAILS asked for in the questions at the end of that link
This seems to have resolved the issue. In the midst of this, I shifted to Premier Pro, thinking I would just abandon Premier Elements. Pro did the same thing. I finally changed the video to 32 bit, and that seems to have been the issue. Thank you.
Glad that you got it sorted. As there are strong similarites between PrPro and PrE, I can imagine that what might kill one, would kill the other. Still, I use PrPro for 95% of my work, so do not think that you will be disappointed in PrPro. I like all aspects of its layout and its workflow, much better than I do PrE 4's. It just works more like I wish to work.