Tulsa, a soldier with dreams of running his own nightclub, places a bet with his friend Dynamite that he can win the heart of an untouchable dancer...but when Dynamite is transferred, Tulsa must replace him in the bet.
After arriving back in Hawaii from the Army, Chad Gates (Elvis Presley) defies his parents' wishes for him to work at the family business and instead goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend's agency.
Vince Everett is serving a one-year jail sentence for manslaughter. While in the big house, his cellmate, a former country singer, introduces him to the record business. Everett takes to it so well that he decides to become a singer when he gets out. However, he is quickly disillusioned by the record business. But with the help of a new friend, he decides to form his own label, and soon becomes an overnight sensation. But when he becomes a superstar, will his desire for fame and money cause him to forget the people who got him there?Written by
For his third feature film Colonel Tom Parker over to MGM where they assigned a couple of very experienced hands behind the camera, producer Pandro S. Berman who among other folks he produced for was Fred Astaire and director Richard Thorpe. He was one of MGM's busiest craftsmen, who directed just about every MGM star during that studio's golden years. As he always did, Colonel Parker made sure that his star got the best possible support and he didn't fail him in Jailhouse Rock.
In Jailhouse Rock, Elvis plays a rather surly, ill tempered youth whose quick with his fists. A brawl in a bar and Elvis kills a guy with his fists. Granted the deceased was a lout, still the state does frown on that and Elvis got a term for manslaughter. While there, he shares a cell with old time country singer Mickey Shaughnessy.
Mickey helps Elvis survive prison and discovers he's got a voice. When he's released before Shaughnessy, Elvis goes out in search of a career and determined to let nothing stand in his way. He discovers the music business is a cutthroat one and he responds in kind. He gets his success, but it costs him the love and respect of all around him, including young record promoter Judy Tyler who develops a thing for the king.
Elvis has some good songs to sing with the title song being the biggest hit from this film. Jailhouse Rock is given a good MGM style production, worthy of anything you might have seen MGM give one of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly's musicals. And the record of course is still selling good.
Mickey Shaughnessy appeared in a lot of good films in the Fifties, but usually playing cheerful oafs. This was one of the few times he had a serious part and he carries it off well.
I was disappointed that Judy Tyler did not get to display her musical talents. Elvis's is not the only tragic story from the cast of Jailhouse Rock. Young Judy Tyler with a brilliant career in front of her was killed shortly after completing this film with her husband in an automobile accident. I remember it well because she had been Princess SummerFallWinterSpring on the Howdy Doody Show a few years earlier. After leaving that she got good notices on Broadway in one of Rodgers&Hammerstein's lesser shows, Pipe Dream.
My guess is that Colonel Tom did not want anyone sharing musical time with Elvis so early in his career. Otherwise she might have gotten a number on her own and a duet with the king. Her musical talent would have been preserved in a hit film, but who could have known? Elvis would have to wait until Viva Las Vegas and Ann-Margret before he got a leading lady who could sing and dance to match him.
The plot of the film is similar to The Carpetbaggers so if you've seen that you know how this one comes out. Elvis does a fine acting job and singing, well he is the king.
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