Saturday, 26 November 2011

Elvis - King Creole (1958)

King Creole - Paramount 1958
Elvis Presley's most critically acclaimed performance as an actor was in what is considered (rivaled only by 'Jailhouse Rock') the best of all the films he starred in - 'King Creole' (1958). The story was based upon the Harold Robbins novel 'A Stone For Danny Fisher'. Generally considered Elvis' best narrative film, King Creole benefited from the talents of several Hollywood notables. Producer Hal Wallis chose one of his closest associates, the well-respected Michael Curtiz, to direct the film. Best known as the director of Casablanca, Curtiz was an expert craftsman known for his deft handling of a wide variety of film genres during his 30-year career. The tight control over the many twists and subplots of King Creole reflects Curtiz's expertise.

Other Hollywood veterans who made up the crew included cinematographer Russell Harlan, who photographed the film in a dark, moody lighting style that captured the seedy but seductive atmosphere of the French Quarter.

King Creole - Paramount 1958

The level of experience that Wallis, Curtiz, and Harlan brought to the production of King Creole would never be matched in another Presley feature. Elvis' supporting cast represented some of the finest Hollywood actors of the 1950s. Elvis played the role of Danny. Danny Fisher (Elvis) coming up from the ghetto to seek fame and fortune as a singer in the New Orleans Jazz clubs. Along the way he tangles with gangland boss Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau) and love interest Ronnie played by Carolyn Jones.

Elvis Presley and Carolyn Jones as they relax for photographs and Carolyn holds a cup of tea.

Danny is dissatisfied with the financial situation of his poverty-stricken family and blames his father for their problems. He sweeps up at a nightclub to earn extra money -- a job that places the impressionable young man in the company of some shady characters. An encounter with Ronnie, a local gangster's moll portrayed by Carolyn Jones, results in Danny's expulsion from high school. On the job that night at the club, Danny runs into Ronnie and gangster Maxie Fields, played by Walter Matthau, who insist that Danny sing a song. Danny's natural talent attracts the attention of the owner of the King Creole night spot, who offers him a job.

Danny is at a crossroads. He is torn between the love of good girl Nellie, played by Dolores Hart, and his attraction to the ill-fated Ronnie. Danny is also torn between his desire for a singing career and the temptation to join a street gang. A violent altercation with the gang's leader, played by Vic Morrow, leaves Danny with a serious knife wound. After Ronnie nurses him back to health, a jealous Maxie shoots her in cold blood.

Maxie in turn is shot by a gang member Danny had once befriended. Danny returns to singing at the King Creole, reconciled with his family and with Nellie.

Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley

While on location in New Orleans, the crowds of curious onlookers and excited fans were so large that Wallis had to arrange for tighter security. The entire top floor of the Roosevelt Hotel was booked for the film's cast. Pinkerton guards patrolled the floor, the elevators, and the staircase to keep overzealous fans from Elvis.

As an added precaution, Wallis insisted that the elevator should not be allowed to run to the top floor to prevent any outsiders from getting onto Elvis' floor. Simply returning to his hotel room at the end of the day proved difficult for Elvis because there were always large crowds waiting for him in the lobby. To avoid the crowds, Elvis entered an adjacent building, climbed out a window, crossed the roof, and entered his hotel via the fire escape. In his autobiography, Hal Wallis recalled a particularly sad moment for Elvis. Eager to try some of New Orleans' famous cuisine, Elvis was disappointed to learn he could not dine at the legendary Antoine's because no one could guarantee crowd control. During his stay in New Orleans, Elvis ordered room service. This isolation was part of the price Elvis paid for stardom, and by this point, it had begun to affect his lifestyle.

Elvis Presley in King Creole

Elvis Presley in King Creole

Elvis Presley in King Creole

King Creole' co-starred Carolyn Jones, who is best known for her work in the TV show 'The Addams Family'. However, long before the TV series, she appeared in a number of stage productions and in movies such as 'East of Eden', The Seven Year Itch', The Tender Trap' and 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', as well as 'The Bachelor Party', for which she her 1957 Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She also won a Golden Globe award in 1958 as Most Promising Female Newcomer. Ms. Jones was born in Amarillo, Texas in 1929.

King Creole Book / CD Set From FTD

King Creole: The Music: was both a book + CD, and was released back in August 2010. This is a 200-page book with images exclusively designed to complement the music from the film. It consists of two main sections; the recording sessions on January 16, 1958 and song scenes from the filming of the movie (including behind-the scenes shots). The images are classic and well-known shots with the majority being previously unpublished and taken by the original stills Photographer on set photographers on the set (no freeze-frames)

Elvis Presley Photos : From the King Creole FTD Book

Elvis Presley Photos : From the King Creole FTD Book

Elvis signing autographs on location King Creole. 2/3/5 or thursday 6th of January 1958

Elvis signing autographs on location King Creole. 2/3/5 or thursday 6th of January 1958

Carolyn Jones and Elvis Presley - King Creole

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