Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Judy Tyler and Elvis!
JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957). Director: Richard Thorpe.

"Without money you might as well be dead."

Vince Everett (Elvis Presley) delivers one punch too many to an obnoxious guy in a bar, and winds up in stir for a year for manslaughter. There he meets aging country singer "Hunk" Houghton (Mickey Shaugnessy of King of the Roaring 20's), who gives him musical advice and signs him to a contract. Vince has a massive chip on his shoulder that puts up barriers between himself and the people he meets, including a woman, Peggy (Judy Tyler), who is in the recording industry and helps him get started. Becoming successful, insolent Vince plays around on Peggy. Then Hunk, newly out of jail, arrives and reminds him of that contract ... Jailhouse Rock is an entertaining flick that features a pretty good performance from Presley, whose hip-shaking movements remind one, oddly, of Rita Hayworth! Shaughnessy and Tyler are excellent, and we also have a bizarre scene between Presley and Percy Helton -- "bizarre" because of the juxtaposition of these two very different individuals --  with the latter playing a bar owner. Dean Jones has a brief appearance as a friendly DJ who dates Peggy. Movies like Jailhouse Rock aren't to be taken seriously, but the movie so glosses over details about the recording industry that it seems like a fantasy at times! S. John Launer, who plays the judge who sentences Vince, often played a judge on Perry Mason. Judy Tyler was an attractive and talented woman who starred on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Pipe Dream the year before this picture. She was killed at age 24 in a car accident before Jailhouse was even released. Whatever you think of Presley, there is no denying the man had presence in spades!

Verdict: The "Jailhouse Rock" production number is a hoot! *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

You're right, Bill, Elvis had amazing charisma and was very photogenic. This is not a great film by any means, but unfortunately it was a big box office hit and helped shape his very narrowly defined movie image. The title tune production number is quite homoerotic, actually...
Of his early films, I prefer the Clifford Odets script of Wild in the Country, or maybe Loving You . Of course, when this comes on again I will probably watch it again, because of Elvis....

William said...

Elvis is one of those performers you just can't help smiling at whether you love 'im or hate'im and I'm somewhere in the middle, but he certainly had what they used to call "it." The Jailhouse Rock production number borders on camp!