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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
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
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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