King Creole (1958)

King Creole (1958)

“The boy was born with an unusual talent — he has the right to think for himself!”

A troubled teen (Elvis Presley) disappoints his father (Dean Jagger) by failing high school and choosing to work in a nightclub owned by a man (Paul Stewart) who his sister (Jan Shepard) falls for. But will Danny’s (Presley’s) new singing career and romance with a sweet clerk (Dolores Hart) be jeopardized by his association with a thug (Vic Morrow) working for a gangster (Walter Matthau), whose seductive moll (Carolyn Jones) makes continual moves on him?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aspiring Stars
  • Carolyn Jones Films
  • Dean Jagger Films
  • Elvis Presley Films
  • Gangsters
  • Juvenile Delinquents
  • Love Triangle
  • Michael Curtiz Films
  • Musicals
  • Paul Stewart Films
  • Singers
  • Walter Matthau Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that this loose adaptation of Harold Robbins’ novel A Stone for Danny Fisher (1952) remains “Elvis Presley’s best film”, noting that “Presley gives a strong, tough performance and his singing is terrific”. Peary further points out that “he is ably supported by a fine cast” and “the direction by Michael Curtiz is very efficient”, “styled much like his Warner Bros. biopic-musicals.” Peary concludes his review by noting that the film is a “solid piece of entertainment and certainly one of the top juvenile delinquent pictures of the fifties”. Presley — in his final movie before entering military service — does indeed seem to be at the top of his game, singing numerous nifty, lively ditties (all well incorporated into the storyline):

… and toggling his bad-boy impulses between “pretty Dolores Hart”:

… and “Carolyn Jones, Matthau’s unhappy mistress”. Jones makes a strong presence as well: she’s amply seductive, pulls no punches (except when forced to under duress), and is clearly a damaged soul simply hoping for relief, which leads to plenty of genuine tension about which girl — and path — Presley will choose.

Russ Harlan’s cinematography is top-notch, and fine use is made of New Orleans locales.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Elvis Presley as Danny Fisher
  • Carolyn Jones as Ronnie
  • Several lively musical numbers
  • Fine use of New Orleans locales
  • Russ Harlan’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, once, for its historical significance.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “King Creole (1958)

  1. Not must-see.

    It seems I’m at the polar-opposite of Peary’s view. I know I’d seen this when I was a kid but… seeing it again was more than a chore.

    My biggest difficulty with the film is its script – there’s nothing all that distinctive about it (much of the dialogue is mundane) and it makes for an oddly lethargic viewing experience (one that even a pro like Curtiz can’t do much with).

    Once the film starts, it soon settles into a turgid rhythm that’s maintained throughout… except when Presley periodically does his swagger thing. The songs, alas, have a general sameness about them and none of the songs are all that memorable. That may not have mattered at the time of the film’s release – when Presley was all the rage – but time hasn’t been kind; some of Presley’s musical performances in other films still have more power than what’s here.

    In short, I don’t find the film all that compelling.

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