- Gareth Crook
Jailhouse Rock (1957) - 5/10
After enduring the recent ‘Elvis’ film and then having my interest peaked by the documentary ‘The Searcher’, I thought I’d try some actual Elvis films. Starting with Jailhouse Rock. Here he’s Vincent, a young kid, good with his fists. Sent down after a bar fight. He’s sharing a cell with Hunk (Mickey Shaughnessy). He’s full of advice on how to get by inside and he’s got a guitar. No guessing where this is headed. Hunk was a jobbing musician. Vincent can sing. The Warden wants to put on a show that’s televised to make the joint look good, not exactly clear why, but to be honest this is a bit thin on depth. It looks pretty nice in widescreen black and white, but the story is really just a distraction from the songs. Hunk is a bit of a shark. He spots an opportunity in teaming up with Elvis, I mean Vincent (a bit on the money though isn’t it). Vincent’s performance was a bit of a hit you see, but Hunk keeps him in the dark. Vincent is naive and hot headed but does his time. Only finding out how well he’d been received on TV once he’s back on the outside. The plan was to wait a few more months for Hunk to get out and take on the world together, but Vincent moves too fast to wait around. Armed with a guitar and some youthful exuberance. He wants to make something of himself… if he can only hold his temper. Presley is okay. He’s not amazing by any stretch, but he’s not bad either. Peggy (Judy Tyler) is better. She’s a more positive influence on Vincent too, getting him in a studio to record. Not to make a hit, but to make him wake up and find his real voice. Less straight up, more swagger, more Elvis. I’ve a feeling the hit might be coming though. Peggy is a bit well to do. Vincent a bit rough around the edges. He’s got no manners. In fact he’s a bit of a prat. “I think I’m gonna just hate you” derides Peggy as Vincent behaves like a petulant child, before stealing a kiss. He’s not the only one stealing though as a sneaky record exec pinches his song and his dreams of cashing in. Vincent though thinks he’s got things figured out. If you want something doing properly, do it yourself. He’s got a lot to learn though, about the record industry, the world and Peggy. The Jailhouse Rock scene is by far the best two minutes of this, even with the dodgy lip-syncing as Vincent branches out into TV and then the movies. It’s all a bit art imitating life. Although I’m not sure Elvis was as dumb as Vincent, certainly not as obnoxious. This is the movies though. Where bad things happen to bad people, which might force Vincent to finally rehabilitate.