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I've never seen this movie until now. I've been an Elvis fan since I
found out about the dude a year before his 1977 death, I have hundreds of
hours of concert and studio recordings and concert videos, I've even seen
the robe that he wore in "Kid Galahad," and yet somehow I never managed to
see this 1962 movie (shot in late '61). Was it worth the wait? Well,
yes...of course. Is it a classic movie, apart from its inherent
cult-classic value as an Elvis film? Well, no, but it's one of his better
1960s movie and I enjoyed it.
The movie came hard on the heels of another atypical film from Elvis, "Follow That Dream," that was in turn preceded by the 1961 box-office giant, "Blue Hawaii." "Blue Hawaii" continued the family-film travelogue kind of movie (set by 1960's "GI Blues") that would set the style for most of Elvis' '60s movie output and that would eventually lead to a downward spiral in Elvis' professional life and job fulfillment that lasted almost 'til decade's end. Elvis as race-car driver. Elvis as boat racer. Elvis as whatever. As Elvis said, after his 1969 return to the stage, it was like they made the same movie a bunch of times and just changed the backdrops. Between "GI Blues" and "Blue Hawaii" came two 'serious' films ("Wild In The Country" and "Flaming Star," both shot in 1960) that couldn't hope to match the commercial success of those glossy musicals but that showed Elvis' potential as a dramatic actor. Both "Kid Galahad" and "Follow That Dream" were also somewhat a departure from the "GI Blues"/"Blue Hawaii" formula, though less so than the two 1960 films that Elvis did for Fox, and each were pretty sparse on songs and much more generous on storyline and characterizations.
"Kid Galahad" was an interesting role for Elvis. The producers threw in a few interesting songs to cater to the fans who'd flock to the film and they're all pleasant and of a high standard -- my favorite's always been the song that opens the movie ("King Of The Whole Wide World") though the excessive overdubbing over the film version waters down much of its magnificence. As was true of Elvis' other better films, this one profits from having a very strong supporting cast, including the likes of Gig Young, Charles Bronson, Lola Albright, and many others. There's even Ed Asner, in his second film role -- Mr Asner played another law-enforcement representative, a policeman, in 1969's "Change Of Habit" (Elvis' last scripted movie). Joan Blackman, Elvis' co-star in "Blue Hawaii," has a less solid role than does Lola Albright but she does it just fine and is certainly a beautiful young woman. Lola Albright is great in her role and Gig Young is lazily perfect for his -- though he seems almost as if he's happily drunk throughout...which, apparently, he was. Chucky Bronson is good in this film even though he's supposedly embarrassed by it. You'd think that a man who inflicted all of those terrible '80s violence movies on the world would find it hard to be embarrassed by anything, but there apparently was friction on the set between him and the easy-going Elvis. Regardless, the on-screen interaction between them is fine. Elvis actually looks like he put on some weight about this time -- also evident in "Follow That Dream" -- but his shirtless scenes reveal that he's pretty solid and he'd lost whatever extra weight he was carrying by the time he started shooting his next film a few months later.
This film was shot on location in Idyllwild, California, which is kind of a kick for me because when I lived in Palm Springs I'd often ride my motorcycle up there and I've since been there with my wife and with my parents. It's a great little town, tucked away in the shadow of Mount San Jacinto, and -- even though I first visited it in 1987 -- I vaguely recognize some of the landmarks. San Jacinto itself certainly looks the same now as in 1961.
The boxing scenes looked pretty convincing to me and are actually quite riveting. People who are expecting to see "Rocky" might be disappointed but, like Mr Balboa, Elvis' Galahad shows convincingly that he can take a brutal series of blows and keep on keeping on. This film came about 18 months after Elvis earned his black belt (from a real hard-case...the grading lasted several hours and involved fighting up to five black-belt opponents) and Elvis had what it took to both take punishment and to learn the physical skills necessary for his role. His well-publicized scuffles back in 1956 showed that he had a lot of heart and an effective self-defense capability, and legendary boxer and coach Mushy Callahan (brought in to train Elvis) was filled with praise for his charge. Charles Bronson didn't agree, but I guess you can't please everybody.
As a whole, the movie's shot every nicely and it's well acted throughout, including by Elvis. I think that he was somewhat better in "Follow That Dream," but that's perhaps only because his character took full advantage of Elvis' considerable comic skills. In "Kid Galahad" another of Elvis' acting strengths -- anger, at which he's particularly convincing -- comes to the fore during a confrontation with Gig Young. For a moment there's a bit of a flashback -- was for me, anyway -- to the way in which he perfected that kind of scene in films like 1957's "Jailhouse Rock," 1958's "King Creole," and "Flaming Star." This a lighter movie than any of those but it has its moments.
I'm glad that I finally saw this film. It's less frenetic and more involved than Elvis' typical '60s movie fare and is worth a look. The "I'm a grease monkey that don't slide too easily" line is pretty classic, too.
As a big fan of Elvis Presley, Gig Young, and Charles Bronson, as well
as the sport of boxing, I enjoyed this movie for those reasons alone.
Elvis gives a decent performance, but is stereotyped by the script as a
goofy, goo-natured, lug-head, who has a natural gift of a cast-iron
chin and one-punch knockout power. Half the movie Elvis looks in a daze
with his mouth open catching flies!
Charles Bronson has a surprise role as a trainer. Not once does his show off his impressive muscular build and even gets both his hands broken by gangsters. A truly different role for him. He too is stereotyped as the ex-boxer walking on his heels.
Gig Young gives his usual out-standing performance, but there is nothing to like at all about his character; he's a liar, a user, aback-stabber, and an over-all jerk.
The fight scenes are poorly done and considering they were advised by former World Light-welterweight boxing great Mushy Callahan, a big disappointment.
However, if you like Elvis, this will be an enjoyable film.
OK. So it's not "Gone with the Wind," but "Kid Galahad" is well written, fun, and lightly sprinkled with some very good songs (catch the twisting "I Got Lucky" and the front porch "This is Living" scenes.) "Kid Galahad" also boasts a strong supporting cast (look for a young Ed Asner in one his first screen roles;) Academy-Award winner Gig Young, Charles Bronson, and Lola Albright, in a surprisingly emotive role, add "punch" to what, on the surface, appears to be just another Presley vehicle. "Kid Galahad" also had the blessing of being completed before they counted the receipts of "Blue Hawaii." When the studio saw how much money they made off of "Blue Hawaii," the dye was cast; Elvis would be stuck doing "14 song travelogues" for another 7 years. "Kid Galahad" catches Elvis in good humor, shape, and voice; he was having fun...You will too.
The old Warner Brothers classic boxing story Kid Galahad was dusted off
and rewritten to suit the Sixties and the talents of Elvis Presley. The
man that's named Kid Galahad for the ring not only throws a mean punch,
but he sings pretty good too.
Elvis is a soldier fresh out of the army and broke and arrives at Gig Young's training camp looking for any kind of work. The only work that Young has available is for a sparring partner and Elvis does more than spar. He flattens a heavyweight contender and Young's found himself a new prospect.
He needs one because he's into the bookies big time. And a couple of syndicate torpedoes working for gangster David Lewis have taken up residence at the camp. All this is dismaying girlfriend Lola Albright and sister Joan Blackman who Elvis takes a fancy to.
As is usual with Elvis films, manager Colonel Tom Parker got the best talent he could to support the King. Besides those names Robert Emhardt plays the camp cook and up and coming movie legend Charles Bronson plays Elvis's trainer. And you'll see a lot of familiar Hollywood faces as you do in all his films.
Not only the cast, but director Phil Karlson one of the best directors of noir ever, took charge. The scenes with the gangsters show Karlson's steady hand.
Oddly enough Elvis had no real hit songs come out of Kid Galahad, but makes up for it with one of his best acting jobs on screen. For fans of the King.
This was an Elvis movie with some drama, some comedy, some music. It was a little more than the formula movies and had some good fights. Mushy Callahan a boxing coach who coached all the big stars into the 60s for fight movies said of all the actors he coached " Elvis was best, quick hands, knew karate and judo...."Great so-stars and scenery. If its not Rocky or even Rocky 5 its an enjoyable escape. The few songs are pleasant including "I Got Lucky" and "A Whistling Tune" Reportedly Charles Bronson was not very friendly to Elvis. Joan Blackman also made "Blue Hawaii" with Elvis. If you want a diversion on a rainy Sunday this is a possibility.
A very different Elvis movie. Only a very few, but quite good songs can be found in this one. Elvis as a recently discharged G.I. is looking for work, but ends up as a fighter after taking a job as a sparring partner for an up and coming fighter. This movie has a lot of heart and features a number of great actors including Charles Bronson and Oscar winner Gig Young. It also features Joan Blackman, Elvis' co-star in BLUE HAWAII. She is totally gorgeous and very sexy in this movie. A very earthy movie for its times, especially for Elvis. I have seen it plenty of times over the years but always remember sitting in my local theater in 1962 with some of my buddies watching it on a summer afternoon. At that time, it was only the second Elvis movie I had ever seen. A very good movie. Watch it whether you are an Elvis fan or not. Elvis shows some real acting chops in this one.
Fresh from the military, Walter Gulick (Elvis) takes a job at a boxing training camp. Gig Young is the greedy gambler that owns the camp. The vivacious Joan Blackman plays his sister, Rose. Walter goes from being a punching bag to becoming the champ. Charles Bronson plays a stoic, but good hearted trainer. Ed Asner would make one of his first movie appearances. One of my all time favorite Elvis movie scenes is when Walter and Rose do a slow version of the twist as Walter sings "I Got Lucky". Elvis did his own boxing scenes. No way can this version of "Kid Galahad" be compared to Humphrey Bogart's classic.
At the start, Walter is fresh from the army and hitchhiking on the back
of a moving van (not something anyone should attempt in real life, but
it looks good here). And he's singing! Walter arrives in the small
scenic New York community of Cream Valley, where he was born. After his
parents died he was raised by an aunt in Kentucky (which explains the
accent). In the army he worked in the motor pool, and he loves
restoring cars, so he hopes to get a job as a mechanic.
Unfortunately, the only job available is sparring partner for one of several boxers training in the community. At least Walter boxed in the army. He isn't that good, until ...
Willy runs Grogan's Gaelic Gardens, which is trying to compete with Lieberman's Shangri-La as a tourist attraction. But Willy has a gambling problem, and Otto and his goons constantly remind him he needs to pay up. Dolly, who used to sing at Lieberman's, is Willy's impatient fiancée, and she helps take care of the place. And Rose is Willy's younger sister and business partner. The minute Walter sees Rose, we all know what's going to happen with them. Of course, Willy turns out to be quite overprotective.
Walter's boxing talent just may turn out to be the solution for Willy's problems. The usual formula for movies like this applies, though, and it won't be that easy.
I haven't seen but a few Elvis Presley movies. But I didn't know what I was missing. Even Elvis admitted (as portrayed on TV by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) that his movies were fluff, but this one was just a little more.
Elvis gives us his usual impeccably polite all-American boy, and shows his singing talent in a few scenes (though this is not what I would call a musical). He is also good at looking tough in the boxing ring, and he really seems to be able to take a punch or two or three. But in the scenes where he loses his temper (because women shouldn't be treated that way), it becomes clear Elvis was hired for his popularity, not his acting ability.
What makes this film more than ordinary is the talent surrounding the King. Lola Albright as Dolly, Robert Emhardt as Maynard, and David Lewis as Otto in particular. I wasn't that impressed with Gig Young as Willy, but he was easy to like.
And I have to single out Charles Bronson as boxing trainer Lew. When he was in pain in one scene, it was truly disturbing. And that's what put this movie over the top and made it more than just the usual.
Ed Asner (from the Manhattan district attorney's office) had a bald spot even way back then! I've liked him for years. I didn't see much from him here to be impressed with, though.
I did like the music, and the classic cars, which of course were brand new or only a few years old. Walter himself liked the vintage car he restored better than I did.
I would call this good, clean family fun, but of course Elvis does get beat up a lot and he does bleed. And there is some violence even outside the boxing ring. But in the early 60s, violence wasn't as big a concern as it is today.
If you like Elvis, this is certainly one to watch.
This is about one of the coolest and mellowest movies Elvis Presley ever made. The music that Elvis performs is as mellow as the background music in the movie. It's packed with love, romance, and action. 3 important elements that makes a real good Elvis movie. I'm watching it right now and I just saw the part where Elvis polishes of the two hooldlums that busted Charles Bronson's hands. Now Galahad (Elvis) is up for the big fight of the season against Sugar Boy Romero. Who do you think shall win? I can only hope Elvis Galahad does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Comparisons to the 1937 version of "Kid Galahad" are pointless, the
only similarity between the two films is the nickname of the title
character. It probably suits Elvis Presley a bit better than Wayne
Morris, the knight in shining armor who at the film's opening touts his
reputation in song as 'King of the Whole Wide World'. The movie's
trailer calls it a 'honey of a picture', and for his fans back in the
day, maybe so.
Events in the story conspire to turn Presley's character Walter Gulick from an ex-GI mechanic into a successful local boxer, thereby earning him a paycheck and the heart of Rose Grogan (Joan Blackman), kid sis of Willy (Gig Young). Together they own the Grogan Gaelic Gardens, an upstate New York resort that can't turn a profit because Willy Grogan is a gambling lush in hock to local hoods.
You'd be hard pressed to call this a boxing movie though, Elvis takes turns as a punching bag in virtually every ring scene until he finds the magnetic wonder punch to knock his opponent out. The dramatic set up for Cream Valley's Labor Day extravaganza includes Grogan's encounter with the bad boys who hope to make a killing with bets on the fight. Kid Galahad comes through, but you knew that, this is the King's movie.
There are some interesting casting surprises here, highlighted by Charles Bronson's turn as Galahad's trainer, and a very early film appearance by the uncredited Ed Asner. Gig Young is generally competent as Grogan, while female leads Lola Albright and Joan Blackman don't have a lot to do except play off their respective boyfriends. Albright's Dolly Fletcher gets to fire off an effective one liner defending Elvis' character when she starts to lose patience for Grogan's marriage delays.
Every now and then you'll catch an art deco tease with vivid reds, yellow and blues interspersed with Presley's songs. All are fairly mellow tunes; the "I Got Lucky" number brought a chuckle as I imagined it being performed in a corn field instead of by the side of a lake. You know, the slow twist accompaniment seemed a bit, well, corny.
Hey, it's not a bad little flick and a better way to remember Elvis by than the bloated self destructive image he came to bear in the years before his death. A bit of escapist entertainment that in it's way echoes Dolly Fletcher's sentiment early in the film - "Thanks Galahad".
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