KING CREOLE

(1958)
With Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dolores Hart, Dean Jagger, Vic Morrow
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."     The best film in which Elvis Presley ever appeared, KING CREOLE was based on the novel A STONE FOR DANNY FISHER by Harold Robbins, and was at one time intended to be a vehicle for James Dean.  After Dean's death, Elvis took over the part of Danny, probably the meatiest role of his career.  The character was changed, however, from a boxer to a singer to suit Elvis's talents, and the change sometimes seems uncomfortable and forced.  Overall, however, it's a taut and compelling drama, with Elvis delivering an excellent performance in a demanding role.  Best scenes are the showdowns between Elvis and crime boss Walter Matthau.  When Elvis was given decent material as in KING CREOLE and JAILHOUSE ROCK, he always rose to the occasion -- which only makes one consider what might have been had he been allowed to make real films instead of "Elvis Movies" for the remainder of his acting career.  4 - JL


    Not only the King's best movie, but one of his best soundtracks. The title track, "Hard Headed Woman", "Trouble", "New Orleans" and the ethereal "Crawfish" are the standouts, but even the lightweight numbers like "Lover Doll", "As Long as I Have You" and "Young Dreams of Love" have some period charm.  JAILHOUSE ROCK also features the strongest cast Elvis ever worked with, and the film's triumph lies on how Elvis seems perfectly at ease working with people like Walter Matthau, Carolyn Jones and Dean Jagger.  Pretty much Elvis's last gasp as a movie actor.  Then came his stint in the army, followed by a long string of dumbed down films starting with G.I. BLUES in which Elvis played a caricature of himself, a role he continued through most of the 1960s. 4- JB

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