Friday, August 21, 2009

#495: Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Director: Richard Thorpe
Cast: Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler & Mickey Shaughnessy

Considered Elvis's greatest film, Jailhouse Rock gives us a little glimpse into the music industry of the 50's. The story is of Vince Everett, a beatnik with a bit of an anger problem, who gets thrown in jail for committing manslaughter. His cellmate, businessman Hunk Houghton, teaches Vince to sing, and they agree to perform together once they're released. However, between Everett's and Houghton's release dates, Everett has already become a star with the help of Peggy Van Alden.

Although there's not much to say as far as cinematography, the film's still got a certain charm. Of course, a part of it is Elvis's songs (most memorably the title song, performed as a show within a show while Everett records for NBC). There's also a great sequence in the record studio where Everett finally finds his own true voice. A bit like a manned up version of Do-Re-Mi, it helps demonstrate just how unique Elvis's voice was at the time.

This was my first Elvis film, and it's really given me a better appreciation for The King. It is an incredible achievement that he reached stardom so early on with his dangerous persona. Forget the hip-swinging that all the mothers were so concerned about - he portrayed a truly aggressive character in this film while still acting as the protagonist.

All I have to say is, All Hail the King!

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Elvis Presley refused to watch this movie because of Judy Tyler's tragic accidental death in a car wreck July 4, 1957, three days after filming was completed.
  • In the listing of the American Film Institute's "100 years, 100 Songs" the song "Jailhouse Rock" was voted #21.
  • Originally the choreographer, Alex Romero, created a dance for the song "Jailhouse Rock" that was in a style that was apropos for a more classically trained dancer than Elvis. When Mr. Romero realized that his plans for the number were never going to work, he asked Elvis how would he normally move to the song; thus, this is how Elvis became the uncredited choreographer for what could be considered his most famous dance number in all of his movies.

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