- Gareth Crook
King Creole (1958) - 7/10
oving on from Jailhouse Rock, we’re headed South in King Creole. This straightaway feels like a more serious film. Even if we start with a song. The camera moves around the beautiful set and the beautiful Presley, now 23. Elvis is Danny. On his last day of school in New Orleans, he’s looking forward to finally graduating. Although he’s work to do before the day starts. Cleaning up a Maxie’s (Walter Matthau) nightclub, he rescues Ronnie (Carolyn Jones) from a couple of all night drunks. His morning not going to plan and graduation might have to wait. Danny wants to do well. Work hard, keep his dad off his back. Things are difficult at home with the loss of his mother, but his dad wants what’s best for him. A profession, a future, but Danny’s a hustler… and a singer. Falling in with the wrong crowd, he’s enlisted as the decoy while they steal. The decoy being singing of course. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but this seems ridiculous and I’m starting to regret that serious film statement. Matthau brings back a bit of bite though as the villainous nightclub owner. Forcing Danny to sing a save Ronnie. Danny is of course up to it, blasting out ‘Trouble’ from atop the bar. You can feel the heat. LeGrand (Paul Stewart) is impressed too, he’s the owner of a rival joint, the King Creole. Danny’s pretty busy, he’s supposed to go to night school, but keeps getting offers of distraction. Namely singing at King Creole and a girl called Nellie (Dolores Hart) who’s caught his eye, although Danny is in no hurry to grow up and settle down. He doesn’t want to be his father. It’s a pretty busy film too, characters connecting all over, I guess it’s that kind town. Swinging stuff. Maxie isn’t happy that Danny’s at King Creole and not singing for him. Understandable, on the stage Presley just plays himself and even in short scenes he’s great. There’s a cunning plan though to get him back. There’s more songs than Jailhouse Rock, but there’s also much more story and Presley does very well as things get dark. There’s genuine jeopardy and as the stakes rise I’m hooked to see if Danny can sing his way out of Maxie’s mess. Definitely a step up and pretty impressive from Presley in just a year.