Jailhouse Rock
Jailhouse Rock
NR | 08 November 1957 (USA)
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After serving time for manslaughter, young Vince Everett becomes a teenage rock star.


Sorry, this movie sucks


An Exercise In Nonsense

Derry Herrera

Not sure how, but this is easily one of the best movies all summer. Multiple levels of funny, never takes itself seriously, super colorful, and creative.

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There are moments in this movie where the great movie it could've been peek out... They're fleeting, here, but they're worth savoring, and they happen often enough to make it worth your while.

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As you probably know, many people consider "Jailhouse Rock" to be Elvis Presley's best movie. While I haven't seen all of Presley's movies, I am pretty confident all the same to agree with that general feeling, since it is a pretty good movie. The movie has plenty of interesting things about it, one of the most prominent things being that Elvis here plays a rougher character with a significant mean and unlikable streak, much different from the clean cut characters he played later in his career. In fact, the surrounding material is more mature and hard hitting than what Presley was surrounding with in subsequent movies, among other things showing how difficult even in the 1950s it was for a musician to achieve significant success. Of course, most people will tune into the movie not for that aforementioned material, but instead to see Elvis sing and dance. There are less musical numbers than in subsequent Elvis movies, but the musical numbers are well done, the best one being, of course, the title number. The movie definitely shows very well what Elvis was capable of, so it's a pity that his subsequent movies soon after became for the most part fluffy and forgettable exercises.

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Scott LeBrun

Considered by some to be his best movie vehicle, the Elvis Presley feature "Jailhouse Rock" does indeed provide its star with an agreeable showcase. The King stars as Vince Everett, a hot tempered young man who accidentally kills a guy in a bar fight, and does time for manslaughter. There he makes the acquaintance of cellmate "Hunk" Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), who teaches him how to strum a guitar and carry a tune. Vince finds that he quite enjoys performing, and upon his release from prison embarks upon a singing career. Among those helping him are the bright and efficient - and very pretty - Peggy Van Alden (Judy Tyler).The King is compulsively watchable. A great actor he may not have been, but he had a powerful charisma, and he gives his character appeal. He's also convincing when the surly Vince starts to take his friends and associates for granted, and become all about financial gains to be made. The story (screenplay credited to Guy Trosper, based on a story by Nedrick Young) gets pretty serious without getting bogged down in melodrama, and naturally it gives The King a couple of opportunities to belt out a number. "Treat Me Nice" and the groovy title tune (one of this viewers' favorites by Elvis) are definite highlights.The supporting cast is somewhat variable, but Shaughnessy is good, as is Vaughn Taylor as money man Mr. Shores and Dean Jones as radio D.J. Teddy Talbot. Tyler is endearing as Peggy, but sadly, she never even got to see the film released as she and her husband died in a car accident just weeks after filming wrapped.This viewer next plans on watching "Flaming Star", also said to be another of Elvis' best vehicles.Seven out of 10.

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Blake Peterson

1957 Elvis is perhaps the best Elvis. It's twenty years away from the Fat Vegas years that ended with his tragic death, ten from his failed marriage to "Naked Gun" staple Priscilla, one after his film debut, "Love Me Tender". It shows an Elvis not yet let down by what life had to offer, an Elvis excited by his success and willing to smolder for the camera so long as it pleased his adoring fans. "Jailhouse Rock", his third film and his first for Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, is a black-and-white musical drama that hardly paints its lead star as a saint. The majority of Elvis' movies altered their then-controversial star into an ersatz Southern gentleman, a good guy so incapable of doing any wrong that all we could do is sit back, appreciate his presence, and savor his musical abilities. "Jailhouse Rock" all but shifts every preconceived notion regarding the star's cinematic persona — here, he is a rough-and-tumble punk with a mean streak and a short attention span when it comes to women. It's easier not to root for him here than it was in "Viva Las Vegas", and that's a problem when a film is so in love with its protagonist that every single character seems to wait on them hand and foot. Missing from "Jailhouse Rock" is the sense of fun his other films carried on their shoulders; his best, 1964's "Viva Las Vegas", was so irresistibly colorful and spry it was impossible not to want to take a vacation in Elvis' Vegas. And even his worst moments (most of his films were bad, so it's best not to talk about them), were frothy, delectable pieces of escapist fluff that turned our frown upside down as they sneakily took George Washingtons out of our wallets. Since "Jailhouse Rock" plays it straight, with its borderline soap operatic drama, we find ourselves less chirpy and more down in dumps, wondering how our beloved King of Rock 'N' Roll can really be a youth capable of manslaughter, how he can be capable of beating up every man who does him wrong, how he can ignore Judy Tyler as she gives him her love and a record deal. I would dramatically cry if I cared more; but a movie as clichéd and hard-bitten as this one doesn't allow such emotions to pour out.Elvis never had much talent as an actor, unlike Frank Sinatra, the previous generation's go- to musical sex fiend, so most of his projects centered on his strengths — and as an actor, those said strengths were limited. He only seemed to shine with a mic in hand or when an Ann-Margret wannabe fell into his arms without much hesitation. Since "Jailhouse Rock" was only his third movie, Elvis' inexperience in the film industry is more clear than it should be; he's so stiff in his non-musical scenes that one can only wish there was a way to give talented people more of a personality when it came to selling themselves on screen. But the musical sequences, as few and far between as they are, burn in the memory. We've all seen the number the film has become famous for, and, in the context of the movie, it harnesses nostalgic power unseen by his other films. I was entertained by "Jailhouse Rock", but, in the end, it pays more attention to its star than the audience interested in its star. It's too bad the star isn't much of an actor. Then we'd have something.

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Compare the films Elvis made before he went in the Army with those he made afterward. In "Love Me Tender," "Loving You," "Jailhouse Rock" and "King Creole," Elvis was a whole lot closer to =Elvis= as he'd been in the era of the "Louisianna Hayride," "Stage Show," "The Milton Berle Show," "Your Hit Parade" and "The Steve Allen Show." The famous cell block dance skit may have been choreographed, but it's still closer to the Elvis of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Hound Dog" -- and thus, to the Elvis that "changed the world" in '56 -- than to anything he did in front of a camera until the "comeback special" in 1968.I've heard a few people assert that Col. Tom went along with Elvis going in the Army to "clean him up" and "make him more controllable and palatable to the establishment." Anyone who's read James Dickerson's book on the relationship between The King and The Colonel may well agree.But in whatever event, "Jailhouse Rock" provides compelling evidence that the Elvis of 1968-1975 or so was no "invention." That Elvis was the logical development of the Elvis of 1955-1958... the one you can look at with your own eyes right here.

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