ELVIS PRESLEY – KING CREOLE– Elvis’ best movie role –(Part 12, last)

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KING CREOLE– Elvis’ best movie role –(Part 12, last)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

The movie “King Creole” hit American theaters during the summer of 1958. It was first shown at New York’s Loew’s State Theater on July 2, 1958. ” As the person involved would say, cut off my legs and call me Shorty! (Short, author’s note). Elvis Presley can really act! “, raved Howard Thompson in his review of “The Actor with a Guitar” published in the New York Times on July 4, 1958. “In Paramount’s surprisingly colorful and lively ‘King Creole,’ which is mostly a drama, he delivers a strong, compelling performance as a downtrodden New Orleans youth who runs afoul of gangsters (along with his damn guitar). It’s a really solid character role, much like Hal Wallis’s production at Loew’s State Theater, which eventually degenerates into a standard gangster showdown. To quote Mr. Presley directly: ‘I’m a gangster, not a bum who wants to make a quick buck.’ As a gruff, troubled and basically decent musician who has been wronged by some of the brutal residents of the French Quarter, he looks and acts really decent .”

Interestingly, it took only a few screenings to discover that the New York Times columnist quoted above was not alone in his views on Presley’s acting.

In a short time, journalists from the weekly Variety, who described Elvis as a ” surprisingly nice and credible actor “, and Billboard magazine, which wrote that ” as Danny, Presley demonstrates much better acting and provides many touching and tense moments ” or Florence Times, which stated, briefly, that ” this guy is not a bad actor ” (while adding that he is also ” no sensation and the Oscar is not in danger “).

KING CREOLE– Elvis’ best movie role –(Part 12, last)

The fourth film starring Elvis, which, as The Guardian recalled in its pages, ” Presley’s sponsors refer to, albeit incorrectly, as ‘The New Elvis Presley’ “, attracted huge crowds to cinemas and, just a week after its premiere, took fifth place in terms of the number of tickets sold in Variety magazine’s national ranking.

This time, however, the huge box office success was also followed by exceptionally good press and positive reviews from critics, which none of Presley’s previous films could boast of.

In numerous reviews, journalists drew attention not only to the famous singer’s acting progress but also to the participation of famous Hollywood names in the production, such as Carolyn Jones or Walther Matthau. ” (Elvis, author’s note) He should also thank his lucky stars for his colleagues, who include Michael Curtiz – an astute director, actors playing supporting roles (especially Carolyn Jones) and, most interestingly, two screenwriters – Herbert Baker and Michael V “Gazzo ,” the New York Times insisted.

Variety, on the other hand, praised Carolyn Jones for creating ” a strong and sad portrait of a good girl who turned bad .” Similarly to the rest of Billboard magazine, which wrote that ” as the fallen angel, Carolyn Jones is absolutely stunning .”

Interestingly, in the case of “King Creole”, critics remained unanimous even about Elvis’s songs. Although in this case the enthusiasm was rather moderate.

It seems that one of the most optimistic opinions about the soundtrack was expressed by the previously cited Variety magazine, which noted that in the film Presley ” sings very pleasantly, delicately and melodiously .” Unfortunately, Howard Thompshon of the New York Times already described the same songs as ” more than irritating musical interludes “, while adding that ” the most convincing song, ‘Take My Hand’*, was presented by Mr. Presley sitting down ” * .

Of course, in the flood of all these extremely enthusiastic statements, which, as the artist’s closest relatives recalled, caused him unprecedented joy, there were also words of indignation and criticism. However, these most often concerned the plot and the criminal activities of the main character. Catholic magazines such as Commonweal and The Catholic World lamented that Danny Fisher, portrayed by Elvis, never received the punishment he deserved for his actions. According to the authors, this could have had a disastrous impact on the youth of that time and their incorrect perception of the world. ” Adults undoubtedly won’t be too moved by ‘King Creole,’ but unfortunately teenage viewers may be fooled ,” it was written. ” Even more so because Danny is a sympathetic character and at the end he goes unpunished .”


When, a few years after the premiere of “King Creole”, Harold Robbins, author of the novel “A Stone For Danny Fisher”, was asked what he thought about the film, he replied laconically – ” Well, I got a check for it .” Unofficially, however, it was said that the writer treated Paramount’s production as a parody and was disappointed that his work was never properly adapted into a film.

Nevertheless, during the summer of 1958, the press hailed “King Creole” as Presley’s best film. And most importantly, the film holds this title to this day. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be the last time Elvis could fully develop his acting abilities. ” Before Hollywood turned Elvis into a bland family entertainer and polished off all the rough edges, ‘King Creole’ showed what films Presley was capable of making if he worked with the right agent, was given the right script and had the chance to be a ‘real actor’ and not just a singer. ” , Matthew Puddister from Medium.com aptly noted.

Elvis himself also repeatedly emphasized that the role of Danny Fisher was his favorite and his performance in “King Creole” was one of the greatest achievements in his entire film career. ” Many years later, I accidentally met Elvis in Hollywood, where I lived ,” Carolyn Jones remembered in one of her interviews. “ He was driving in a limousine and I was walking the dog. He noticed me and stopped. We went to my house. We sat down in front of the entrance and started talking about old times and his love for ‘King Creole’. After some time, he became melancholy and confided to me: ‘Carolyn, I’m lost.’ This broke my heart because I could see that he was tired and disappointed with the films he was forced to make for years.

We talked for a while as his fondness for Michael Curtiz became even more apparent. Curtiz believed that Elvis was destined to become a great actor. However, as it turned out, after shooting ‘Flaming Star’, another excellent Elvis film, Hollywood tycoons had completely different plans for him .

  • I’m talking about the song “Young Dreams”

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

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