ELVIS PRESLEY – KING CREOLE – Elvis’ Best Movie Role (Part 9)

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– Elvis’ best movie role –
(Part 9)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

New Orleans

Even before filming of “King Creole” began, the film’s director, Michael Curtiz, repeated that he was afraid of working with Presley. As he said, he was afraid that the famous singer would be a ” very conceited ” star with whom it would be difficult to communicate while working on the set. Meanwhile, to his surprise, Elvis turned out to be not only a ” wonderful boy ” but also a very bright student, open to all comments and suggestions. Even when Curtiz suggested that for the role of Danny Fisher he lose a few extra kilos and cut off his famous sideburns, which in his opinion did not suit the character he was to play on screen. ” You couldn’t be silly around Curtiz – I mean, he got really angry about it ,” Jan Shepard recalled in one of her interviews. ” But no matter what he asked Elvis, he always said, ‘Okay. You’re the boss here .”

Elvis’ changed image was noticed almost immediately by local journalists, who this time were forbidden to enter the set and interview Presley. Officially, the reason for this decision, supposedly made by Hal B. Wallis – although he later denied it and transferred the responsibility to Colonel Parker, was a very tight work schedule and the desire to finalize it before Elvis was drafted into the army.

Presley’s fourth film was set in New Orleans. However, before the filming moved to the city widely considered to be the cradle of American jazz, some scenes, including musical sequences, were shot in Paramount’s Hollywood studios.

” After filming began, we played the role of members of Elvis’s band ,” Scotty Moore remembered in his book. “ This time we even got a few sentences to say. And when Elvis sang ‘King Creole’ we stood behind him on stage. At one point, Elvis began to pretend that he was playing a guitar solo . In this shot you can see him looking at me over his shoulder with that cheeky smile of his. That smile wasn’t in the script. It was our private joke. He asked me with his eyes whether his fingers were positioned correctly during the solo . But when they were shooting the close-up of his hands, I put on his shirt and played that solo on camera for him .”

Speaking of songs, it is also worth mentioning that between January and March 1958, two songs were filmed in Hollywood, which were ultimately not used in the finished film. The first of them was the previously mentioned “Danny”. The next one was “Hard Headed Woman”, which appeared in only a few seconds of fragment in the new Paramount Pictures production.

In their memoirs, both Michael Curtiz and the rest of the crew agreed that Elvis was always the first to arrive on set. At exactly half past eight in the morning.

” He was very focused and focused on playing Danny ,” Jan Shepard explained in later interviews. “ For a kid who was just starting his career, he had great timing. There was great sincerity in his playing. He was a very good listener and he just became this young man. He became the movie Danny. Just like with his music, Elvis was also committed to his acting, and when you looked into his eyes they really acted .

Interestingly, however, between takes, Elvis was almost never in his dressing room. He preferred to spend his free time on set. “ He always stayed within camera range so that he didn’t have to be called twice .”

In his free time, he played the piano (one of the columnists, who managed to get into the shooting hall despite the ban, noted in his text that he had even heard songs by the great musical creator, Cole Porter) or the guitar, and even organized informal jam sessions. with members of The Jordanaires and musicians from their band, who were also involved in the film. Most of all, he talked and joked a lot with the rest of the cast.

” We spent a lot of time together between shoots and off camera ,” said Ronnie’s actress, Carolyn Jones, in an interview. “ I really liked being in his company. Just like the respect and interest with which he approached the issue of becoming a good actor. It was impossible not to feel his sincerity and his great talent. We sat at the piano and sang ballads from the old days. Of course, we also sang ‘As Long As I Have You’, which was my theme song in the film. He sang it in his beautiful baritone voice. He also played the piano quite well .”

Another thing was the fact that “King Creole” was shot in one of the nearly thirty film halls belonging to Paramount Pictures. This meant that at literally the same moment, just behind the wall, another film or popular TV series starring the biggest names in contemporary cinema could be being produced.

Some of the stars sometimes came to the studio from neighboring film sets to watch Elvis at work and talk to him for a while. Just like Pat Boone, the famous American singer, whom Presley welcomed by performing a fragment of his last great hit, “April Love”.

However, looking back, the two most exciting and memorable meetings took place in the canteen, where almost all the famous people visiting the complex on a given day gathered for lunch.

One of these people was Sophia Loren, whose Italian temperament Elvis recognized in the first minutes of the meeting. As photographer Bob Willoughby remembered, as soon as the beautiful actress noticed Presley eating dinner, she decided to approach his table and introduce herself. A moment later, she jumped on his lap and started playing with his carefully arranged hair.

Elvis was intimidated and a bit embarrassed by the situation. Still, the two continued talking for a few minutes. Among other things, about Presley’s fans and their hysterical reactions during his concerts. ” I bet you wish they would stop screaming, ” Loren, who was hailed as the most beautiful woman in the world, was said to have said. ” Of course not. Never ,” Elvis replied to her. ” And I’ll tell you why. They cover up my mistakes. Many times, when I reached for a high note and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sing it, I would make some crazy movement that would make the kids start screaming. And then no one knew the difference .

During this short exchange of words, Elvis also admitted that he receives the most criticism whenever he tries to be himself. ” Elvis, I think you’re a very nice boy ,” Loren commented, to which Presley jokingly replied, ” Thanks very much. ” You know that’s the worst thing you can say about me .”

To the reporters he later met, the singer confessed that he was a big fan of Sophia Loren and that he had seen all the films she starred in. He also expressed hope that after returning from the army, they would be able to appear in front of the camera together.

While the meeting with Sophia Loren was thoroughly documented by a photographer present in the cantina, the course of the meeting with the legendary Marlon Brando is known today only from the account of its witness, Jan Shepard.

Next to James Dean, Brando was Presley’s greatest screen idol. So when the actress playing the role of his sister in the movie noticed the star of films such as “Wild” or “On the Waterfront” entering the cafeteria, she immediately informed Elvis about it. The singer was so moved by this that he couldn’t even turn his head in the indicated direction.

A moment later, the famous actor took a seat right next to Elvis’ table. ” When you stand up, your chair will hit his ,” the young actress discreetly informed Presley. ” Stand up and just say ‘hi’ to him .”

And so it happened.

Presley and Brando talked together for a while. Shepard, who watched the meeting, recalled in later interviews that despite his great excitement, Elvis tried to remain calm during the meeting. But when they left the cafeteria, he said excitedly, ” Oh my God! I shook Marlon Brando’s hand .

Article written and provided by Mariusz Ogieglo, EP Promised Land (Poland) http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/

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