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King Creole

Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:20 am

King Creole (1958 film)

as the years have gone by, this film (Elvis' 4th feature film) has taken on a cliche mystique: Elvis' best film and Everybody's #1 favorite.

I respectfully disagree.
In fact, this film would not even make my Top Ten Favorite Elvis Films List.

It's a depressing pathetic story filled with depressing pathetic characters.

A perfect slit-your-wrists-to noir.

The only redeeming quality is the music incorporated into the project.
The songs I like and as I'm groovin' to Hard Headed Woman, and strutting to Dixieland, and swaying to Young Dreams, I realize I don't need the film footage at all; just the audio.
Which would explain why I own copies of the KC songs (on vinyl and CD) but don't even have a copy of the film itself, never bothering to tape it off television either. Having sat thru the film from start to finish at least 3 times over the years, the impression has never improved.
Turn off the TV and turn on the stereo...the medium that "King Creole" is best experienced.

Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:49 am

It is beautifully photographed (outdoor scenes) in glorious black and white. And Elvis did good and credible acting in the film. Maybe Flaming Star is a contender for best film acted by Elvis. For those reasons alone (plus music) it might be his best film, in spite of other flaws you mentioned.

Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:55 am

I respect that response.

Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:56 am

I respectfully disagree. I don't find it depressing, I find it exciting. I like the toughness, I like the dark edge. I like the violence and the movement. I like the hope but not necessarily the promise of reconcilliation at the end. I also like the theme of getting to know yourself.

You have to admit it's an engrossing movie that keeps you interested.

Elvis really finds himself as an actor here. He's very comfortable on screen and very exciting.

There are some things I don't like Elvis being virtually the only one in the movie with a southern accent. Ok, maybe his dad married a southerner and his mom was from the south. But the high school kids and the gangsters seem like they were transplanted in from New York. That's a period absurdity though and doesn't really hold back the story. I also think it's understandable in that the story was developed initially for James Dean and set in New York.

A bigger flaw I feel is some of Carolyn Jones' dialogue which is a little weighted down with poetic poesy in some scenes and increases the soap opera aspects. Also, a friend of mine once pointed out that we don't see enough of Matthau's minions. He has a whole street under his thumb and needs to take Dummy along to wipe out Elvis. Personally, I wish the script had had the cajones to call Elvis' music "rock and roll." Still, though calling them folk songs inspired one of the movie's best lines- MC- What do you call those songs you're singing kid- folk songs?" Elvis- "Yeah, I guess so." MC- "What planet?"

I agree about the soundtrack. People have complained about the horns but I think they add a new level of excitement in their attempt to marry Elvis to the Dixieland tradition. A piece like "Crawfish" done magnificently in the film as duet is a slice of Cajun life unlike anything else in the catalogue. There are some flaws like the school song and not all the ballads are up to snuff (although they are all brilliantly sung). Still it's a terrific soundtrack. The source music is not so bad either.

Bit of trivia- One of the screenwriters here Michael Gazzo later went onto play Frank Pentangeli in "Godfather II".

Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:33 pm

I love the soundtrack as I said,
but darn it, I really find the KC pool of characters to be a cesspool.

I don't like any of them - except the virginal blonde at the store (who is wasted on-screen as Danny prefers to pursue that old whore played by Jones)

every so often, Danny becomes...Elvis! and performs a song.
He breaks character every time he sings (he's being "himself")

Danny Fisher is a loser.
and even his poor beat-up Dad, and that rat Maxie Fields and everyone.

I really can't stand the KC story and its characters.

For 90+ minutes of viewing time well spent and enjoyed,
I (and certainly alone in this respect) prefer:
Lt. Josh Morgan meets the Tatum Family, or Lucky Jackson trying to win the race, or Johnny ambling the streets as his tossed cash is being scavanged for,
or Deke Rivers and that unforgettable diner discussion about what color of seatcovers.

Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:25 pm

Danny is supposed to be a great singer. That's not breaking character.

And his character is most definitely not a loser. Throughout the movie he is consistently active in trying to take hold of his destiny and he always tries to dictate his own terms. He is the one that never bows to the bully Maxie Fields. When Maxie walks into the club, Shark is impressed and everyone else is in fear Elvis is not. When Elvis is a hit singing he goes to work for Maxie's rival, he refuses Maxies' attempts to steal him from the King Creole. He only works for Maxie after he backs him to corner which is an easy corner to back an 18 or 19-year-old boy into. I wish more of Elvis' movies conained moments of moral ambiguity as when Elvis makes the deal to avenge his father which of course comes back to bite him because it is the wrong thing to do. When Maxie double crosses him he doesn't just take it. He's constantly with, varying degrees of success, trying to defend and protect those weaker than him from Dummy to his father to Ronnie. This is not a loser.

The relationship with Carolyn Jones is the most satisfying male/female relationship in any Elvis movie because the characters are alike, they are soul mates. It's not just lust. They recognize a part of themselves in one another and that brings them together despite their difference in years.

It's a terrific movie with slight flaws. Not the other way around.

Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:01 pm

Err.... did GG & LTB watch the same film ?

Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:42 am

I don't think so.

By the way is any Elvis song worked into the plot better than "As Long as I Have You" is in this movie? When he chooses this song to make his comeback at the end it is truly moving as a tribute to Ronnie and the lessons she taught his character. In what other movie is an Elvis song used a tribute?

Sun Mar 26, 2006 12:31 pm

One of my favorite Elvismovies, together with Kid Galahad and Viva Las Vegas. (Haven't seen them all yet)

Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:39 am

Graceland Gardener wrote:I love the soundtrack as I said, but darn it, I really find the KC pool of characters to be a cesspool.

Please elaborate.

Oh, sorry. I forgot that you can't. Guess it's something I'll always wonder about.

Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:19 am

I like very much : KING CREOLE ( the whole package) , the movie, Elvis acting very good, the others were also played very good, the soundtrack was wonderfull except only two things that i would change : insteed the hornes on : HARD HEADED WOMAN i would put great solo guitar like in READY TEDDY, RIP IT UP & A BIG HUNK O LOVE. and the second thing is to inclued the great song: DANNY & put it in the original soundtrack album & in the film . we had to wait until 1978 to hear this number on the LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3 .
The only thing that i really would love to see is KING CREOLE in colour :D

Sat May 20, 2006 6:49 am

something that my mom kept mentioning was that she kept getting distracted by elvis' hands and that he really didn't seem all that comfortable on screen in it. he also let a lot more of his stutter/slow speech into this film than in most of his other movies.

my mom must have mentioned how big elvis' hands were about half a dozen times while we were watching it. i can't think of another elvis film where he uses his hands as if he's extremely unsure like that.

when i watch jailhouse rock, he seems a lot more comfortable on screen.

still, i enjoyed it.

as long as i have you is without a doubt the best song in the film. new orleans, trouble, dixieland rock and lover boy are also favorites of mine. actually i like them all really.

i like the noir of it, though carolyn jones would have been better off with her morticia addams hair...those super-short bangs were pretty distracting.

and i always love to see walter matthau.

i had a soft spot for the mute kid...

i think danny fisher was more of a douche bag than vince everett, though. vince had a sweetness/innocence that was severely missing with danny.

no, i seriously don't think this is elvis' best film. i much prefer jailhouse rock, frankie & johnny, and live a little, love a little.


Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:00 am

likethebike wrote:I respectfully disagree. I don't find it depressing, I find it exciting. I like the toughness, I like the dark edge. I like the violence and the movement. I like the hope but not necessarily the promise of reconcilliation at the end. I also like the theme of getting to know yourself...

Well said. I still say it's under-rated. For any no-nothing who thinks they know Elvis movies and how "bad" they "all" were, cue them up this..or "Jailhouse Rock" and a few others if they insist on drama.