Elvis is Kick-Ass “King” in “Creole”

Elvis Presley’s Best Film Performance

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“King Creole” become an international hit for Elvis in 1958

From its haunting opening musical frame with the song, “Crawfish,” the 1958 classic feature film, “King Creole,” rocks as Elvis Presley’s best big-screen performance of his career.

A screen-capture from Presley’s “Crawfish” opening number in “King Creole.”

Directed by Michael Curtiz, produced by Hal Wallis, and adapted from the Harold Robbins novel, “A Stone for Danny Fisher, “King Creole” pairs Presley with a dazzling list of charismatic and talented co-stars including Carolyn Jones and Dolores Hart, as Presley’s double love interests, Walter Matthau and Vic Morrow as the film’s villains, the legendary Dean Jones, and many more.

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Presley with Delores Hart (who later became a nun in real life, while Elvis played a surgeon opposite Mary Tyler Moore as a sister in 1970’s “Change of Habit” (Presley’s final feature film).

Filmed in black and white, “King Creole” followed Presley’s big-screen debut a few years earlier with “Love Me Tender.” But in that movie, he was just a co-star. In “King Creole,” he is a bonafide star. As history records it, “King Creole” also happens to be the leading superman’s favorite role on any screen.

With good reason.

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The on-screen chemistry between Presley and Carolyn Jones (pre-TV’s “The Addams Family”) was magnetic.

In “Creole,” the last film Elvis made before he joined the military in 1958, the future crowned “King of Rock and Roll” portrays troubled teen Danny Fisher, who drops out of school to help his failed-at-life-and-career father (Jagger). Rescued from doing time by New Orleans salloon-keeper Charlie Le Grand (Paul Stewart), Danny finds work as a night-club performer. But shortly thereafter, mobster Maxie Fields (Matthau) pressures Danny to leave Le Grand to be a spotlight singer at his own club. To help Danny decide, Maxie utilizes the allure of his girl Ronnie (Jones), who ends up falling for Danny, as does his true love Nellie (Dolores Hart). No ordinary triangular affair, the developing relationships between Danny and Ronnie, and Danny and Nellie stand out and beyond the typical “Girls, Girls, Girls” interchanges that occurred in Presley’s later, more flimsy films.

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Heroes and villains. Left: Presley with Vic Morrow (later of TV’s “Combat”). Right: Presley torn between the “bad” Walter Matthau and the ”good” Paul Stewart

Beyond the spectacular musical numbers in “King Creole,” which are threaded seamlessly throughout the story, the movie features a literate script and tight direction that Presley or the rest of us would rarely see again, from him, or any other musical-performer on the big screen.

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The image utilized for the album cover of the soundtrack for “King Creole.”

Written by

Herbie J Pilato writes about pop-culture, stays positive, and hosts THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, a TV talk show on Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime UK.

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