King Creole is the film that got Elvis Presley out of the Army. Well, it slowed down his induction to allow him time to shoot a film fast for Paramount. Having long since been remembered as Elvis’s personal favorite, King Creole has gone largely ignored by younger audience. Well, most Elvis films have been forgotten by people younger than 30. Let’s fix that.
Elvis Presley movies are this weird cultural touchstone for audiences. Older boomers will remember them as constant releases from their childhood and teen years. Meanwhile, people of the Cable generation will remember when they were constantly aired as filler during the early days of Cable. For instance, my 7 year old self saw Change of Habit roughly 40 times before 1990 due to its constant airings on The Disney Channel.
Director Michael Curtiz was the God of the Studio System in the 30s and 40s. Now, he was closing out the 1950s trying to adapt a serious drama novel into an Elvis picture. If you think that Curtiz was going to phone in near the end of his career, you don’t know the man’s work. What we get is a soft Noir that makes the best out of Curtiz’s specifically chosen Black and White to make a teen friendly crime tale.
Still, it’s a movie about Elvis protecting a woman from a Cajun gangster played by Walter Matthau. The first woman that bewitches Elvis is Carolyn Jones. The soon-to-be Morticia promises Elvis’s talents to Matthau as a singer. Elvis has to fight the urge to give himself away as a pretty voice. Seriously, a huge plot point builds up to the following scene.
Honestly, that’s the trouble with Rock films of that era. So many great stories would constantly had to take a step back to let the featured talent sing. Hell, Rio Bravo stopped cold for two minutes to let Ricky Nelson sing a ballad in the middle of a Western. 1950s popular cinema was a hell of a time to be a Rocker and serious actor, yet we survived. What’s the grand takeaway?
Elvis Presley wasn’t a bad actor. However, he got used by Hal Wallis and Colonel Tom Parker as a Paper Doll for rent to any studio with a tentpole picture. He can be anything from a country bumpkin to a Civil War soldier and even a nightclub singer. Think of him like a Barbie Doll that the studio system can use to get Polio Scarred Teens to moisten their White Cotton Panties at a moment’s notice.
Deep cut pop culture points to those that chuckled at my subtle slam at older Elvis’s known sexual fetishes. But, the fact remains the same. Elvis was a critical punching bag for ages regarding movies that weren’t terrible. Hindsight is 20/20, but King Creole and his other films hold up. While I wish someone would’ve put Elvis into better films, I appreciate his desire to stick with it until 1969.
The Paramount Presents Blu-ray for King Creole is a slight improvement over the Fatal Attraction disc. While these releases are going to arrive in waves of three, one has to wonder what to expect next. Seeing as how this King Creole’s Blu-ray debut, everything here is brand-new. You get Leonard Maltin discussing the film and a chance to jump to songs with a specialized scene selection.
I’m including shots taken directly from the disc for you to check out that gorgeous 1080p transfer. Still, it feels like Paramount Presents might be missing their shot by not making all of their releases like this. For a studio that has notoriously kept their Vault Doors held super tight during the Blu-ray generation of releases, it’s time to loosen up. The world needs to see King Creole and more in stunning HD.
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