KING CREOLE – Elvis’s best movie role – (Part 3)

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– Elvis’s best movie role –

(Part 3)

By Mariusz Ogieg?o

Hal Wallis approached the film adaptation of Harold Robins’ novel with great ambition and that is why, from the very beginning, he sought to have the best people in the entire film industry work on it. This concerned both the choice of actors, scriptwriters and even the director.

And it was thanks to his efforts that Michael Curtiz, born in 1886 in Hungary, was behind the camera (in the photo on the right: M. Curtiz, Hal Wallis, Elvis). An outstanding film director who gained recognition for his work on such super-productions as “Sing, Sing”, “Kid Galahad”, “Golden for the South”, “White Christmas” and finally the cult “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the main roles. ” (The film, author’s note) The director was Michael Curtiz, and he has a very sharp and romantic instinct ,” Hal Wallis explained in the book “The Private Life of Elvis”.

The script was written by an American film and television actor, Michael Vincent Gazzo, who in 1954 starred alongside Marlon Brando in the famous crime film “On the Waterfront”.

According to various sources, including preserved correspondence, at the beginning of their cooperation, Curtiz and Baker presented two different views on the story of Danny Fisher.

The former believed that Robbins’ work should be transferred to the screen without unnecessary deviations and as close as possible to the literary original, while, as Curtiz’s letter to Hal Wallis shows, the portrait of Fisher emerging from the first version of the script (presented in May 1955) was more reminiscent of ” a conventional, unrealistic child street hero underestimated by his father and society .”

In the director’s opinion, Danny Fisher, created by Vincent Gazzo, was also an ” old-fashioned, unrealistic, exploited hero who does not decide his own destiny .”

After several consultations, the problem was finally solved and, as Wallis suggested, the focus was on the difficult relationship between the title character and his father.

Over time, this complicated relationship between the Fishers also became the glue connecting the original story with its later version – one developed with Presley in mind.

Danny Fisher is a nineteen-year-old who lives with his sister and father in a small apartment in the French Quarter in New Orleans. To help his father, who still can’t get over the death of his wife, support the family, Danny takes up various jobs. Most often, he earns extra money by cleaning in local nightclubs.

And it is in one of such places that a situation occurs that will trigger a sequence of events that will change his life forever.

It all begins when, while performing his daily duties, the title character defends an attractive girl and saves her from the hands of several aggressive and drunk men.

However, it quickly turns out that the people from the club he was messing with were Maxie Fields and his entourage. Local gangsters whose influence, as Danny will soon discover, reaches very far. And this is only the beginning of his problems.

After leaving the premises, the boy gets into a taxi and, accompanied by the rescued girl, who turns out to be Ronnie – Fields’ partner, goes to school to finally collect his school leaving certificate (he had not finished it a year earlier due to bad behavior), which his relatives are eagerly waiting for, especially the father.

After arriving at the place, the woman rewards Danny with a hot kiss in front of the other students, which makes him the object of ridicule and crude jokes from his peers.

A fight breaks out in front of the school, as a result of which young Fisher once again does not receive the desired document. Embittered, he decides to quit school.

On the way back, he is attacked by a group of local thugs led by Shark, the brother of one of the boys mauled by Danny in front of the school. However, without losing his cool for a moment, Fisher quickly incapacitates all members of his gang. Seeing this, Shark gives up revenge and instead suggests him to join the gang and take part in the robbery of the store. Fisher’s role is to sing a song and distract the customers.

Soon after, Danny is hired as a singer at the “King Creole” club (which only deepens his conflict with his father). When he becomes successful, Maxie Fields comes after him and blackmails him into performing at his place.

Hal Wallis hired Herbert Baker (actually, Herbert Joseph Abrahams) to organize this complicated and twist-filled story and, most importantly, to transform it into a professional script. An American songwriter and screenwriter whose credits include such films as “So This Is New York” or “Jumping Jacks”, “Scared Stuff” or “Artists and Models” with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the main roles.

Even more significantly, in 1957, Baker also worked with Presley on his second film, “Loving You.”

The finished script was sent to the Production Code Bureau at the end of 1957, where, after a meticulous analysis, especially in terms of moral correctness, and the introduction of several necessary corrections, it was finally approved.

Information provided by EP Promised Land Poland, Mariusz Ogieg?o


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