Before we get started with the main feature, I want to take a brief moment to remind you that Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS movie begins playing next week in many locations around the world. Based on the trailers, the attention to detail looks amazing. I love that this trailer throws in a couple of brief shots of the real Elvis as well.
I have also watched and read a few interviews with Austin Butler, who plays Elvis Presley, and he seems completely invested in the role. Many actors have tried and mostly failed to fill Elvis’ shoes before him, but this 30-year-old really seems to have discovered his spirit. We’ll find out soon.
As I’ve said before, after seeing so many horrible attempts to tell the Elvis Presley story in the past, I never even thought I’d watch this movie at all, much less go to the theater opening weekend as I’m now planning to do. The trailer above concludes with “Suspicious Minds (Caught In A Trap),” my mom’s favorite song. She would have been excited to see this movie with me and, though she passed away over three years ago now, I know she’ll be there next to me.
Continuing my rewatch of movies featuring the real Elvis Presley, next up is Kid Galahad – his 10th movie. I have only seen this one a couple of times before.
“Presley Packs the Screen’s Biggest Wallop…with the Gals…with the Gloves…with the Guitar!”
Kid Galahad (United Artists)
Wide Release: August 29, 1962 (United States)
Starring: Elvis Presley, Gig Young, Lola Albright, Joan Blackman
Screenplay By: William Fay
Story By: Francis Wallace
Music Score By: Jeff Alexander
Produced By: Davis Weisbart
Directed By: Phil Karlson
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Elvis Presley stars as Walter Gulick in Kid Galahad. After a stint in the Army, Walter returns to his hometown of Cream Valley, New York, for the first time since becoming an orphan at 14-months-old. The 22-year-old is looking for a job fixing cars, but since he arrives too early in the morning for the auto shop to be open, he naturally checks out a nearby boxing camp instead to see if they need a mechanic.
The fictitious Cream Valley, New York, coincidentally enough, looks remarkably like Idyllwild, California. I suppose that’s better than trying to pass off California as Europe, at least. “Cream Valley” – the name sounds like a magical place where they make salad dressing or something like that.
Shockingly enough, the boxing camp doesn’t need a mechanic. However, Walter does find a job there as a sparring partner. It turns out his Army background has provided him with both auto repair and boxing experience.
As a sparring parter, Walter is a bit of a failure. He stands there and takes a beating from the fighter – over 70 punches. Walter doesn’t try to defend himself or even at first throw any punches in return. He finally throws one punch, proceeding to knock out the now worn-out fighter. While this doesn’t make for a great sparring partner, the boxing camp’s owner, Willy (Gig Young), sees dollar signs and soon puts Walter on the professional boxing circuit.
Several movies before this one, the screenplay adaptation of A Stone For Danny Fisher was changed once Elvis was attached to the project such that the boxer lead character became a singer instead. That 1958 movie, one of Elvis’ best performances as an actor, was also eventually renamed King Creole, after one of the songs in the film.
A few years later, in Kid Galahad, Elvis finally got his chance to play a boxer. According to longtime friend Sonny West, if Elvis had his way, he would have reunited with King Creole director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) on this film, which was produced in late 1961. Curtiz had also directed the original 1937 version of Kid Galahad, starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart. Despite Elvis’ campaign, Phil Karlson received the directing nod instead. Curtiz passed away in April 1962 at the age of 74.
Charles Bronson appears in Kid Galahad as Lew, who acts as Walter’s trainer. Lew seems genuinely enamored of “the kid” and tries to look out for him. Bronson does a terrific job in this role and is a highlight of the film. This is apparently one of the few movies where Bronson smiles – and he smiles early and often in Kid Galahad.
Willy, it turns out, has gambling and other problems that are putting his boxing camp in jeopardy. A mobster leaves two thugs to stay at the camp for insurance.
When Ralphie (Jeff Morris), one of the goons, makes an unwanted advance at Willy’s long-time fiancée, Dolly (Lola Albright), Walter knocks him flat out without even needing to take a beating first this time. “It wouldn’t have happened, but he don’t know how to behave himself with a lady,” explains Walter.
Dolly says, “Thanks, Galahad” to Walter, and the name sticks.
“Dolly, please take the Eagle Scout out of here before Ralphie wakes up and kills him,” quips Lew before they find a loaded gun on Ralphie. Incidentally, I must note that it is hard to take a mafia henchman seriously with a name like “Ralphie.”
Willy’s kid sister, Rose (Joan Blackman), travels in from the Bronx to reorganize the camp when he keeps phoning her for money. She owns half of the business, apparently an inheritance from their father. Galahad is immediately all googly eyes for her. Blackman had appeared with Elvis before in Blue Hawaii, and the pair here manage to show more chemistry together than they did in that 1961 movie – which is admittedly a pretty low bar.
Willy is not too happy when the couple gets engaged. “You can’t yell loud enough to make me shut up,” Galahad tells him during a heated argument. “I’m not marrying Rose because she’s your sister, Willy, but in spite of it.”
Hearing the ruckus, Dolly intervenes and asks Willy what’s wrong as he is about to punch Galahad. “What’s the matter with me? This cream-headed clown wants to marry my sister, that’s what’s the matter with me,” he answers.
The long-suffering Dolly delivers this stinger, causing Willy to storm off: “Well, at least he’s not asking her to hang around for three or four years, Willy.”
Soon enough, Dolly leaves Willy (what is with the names in this movie?). This exchange is one of my favorites in the film – great acting from Lola Albright. Dolly at first seems happily surprised when Willy appears to give in, thinking he is finally going to marry her – but then realization dawns and she becomes sad again.
Dolly: “It’s just that you and marriage have never learned to mix.”
Willy: “All right.”
Dolly: “‘All right’ what?”
Willy: “I’ll lay you 3-to-1, angel, I never bet on another horse. … What’s the matter? What did I do now?”
Dolly: “You’ll probably never know. Excuse me.”
In a fun, blink-and-you-miss-it moment, Galahad tosses Lew an old boxing poster he found. The poster advertises a real match that took place on July 2, 1921: Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier – “the fight of the century.” The event was over 40 years old at the time of Kid Galahad and is, of course, over 100 years old now.
Galahad proves an unexpected success in boxing. He uses the same strategy each time – stand and take a beating for awhile and then throw one punch to knock out the other fighter. He identifies himself as being from Cream Valley, and the little town loves him for it. One of the locals notes, “All these other muscleheads up here, not one of them said he was from Cream Valley.”
I kept expecting a relative or at least an old family friend to show up from Galahad’s past – especially when a priest looks incredulously at his 1939 Cream Valley baptism certificate. Alas, Lew is apparently not Galahad’s long-lost older brother.
The legendary Ed Asner makes his first appearance in a feature film in Kid Galahad, playing a district attorney who is trying to get Willy to testify against the mobsters.
Willy signs Galahad up for a fight against an especially tough opponent, Ramon “Sugarboy” Romero (Orlando de la Fuente), so Lew works hard with him to prepare for the climactic battle. All that’s missing is the Rocky theme.
Speaking of music, most of the songs in Kid Galahad are unfortunately mediocre or worse. Though not mentioned if he learned this skill in the Army as well, Galahad, of course, is a singer.
“I Got Lucky” is a bit of a highlight, including Galahad doing “the Twist” with Rose.
The film’s best song, the clever “King Of The Whole Wide World,” is ruined by jazzy overdubs during the movie’s opening titles. The best version of this song can still be found on 1986’s Return Of The Rocker album – the first release of the extended master including Boots Randolph’s complete saxophone solo.
One thing I will note is, I doubt there are any other boxing movies out there where the fighter who was knocked out in the previous scene invites the guy who just walloped him to sing a song with him. Ah, Elvis Movies, you’ve gotta love them.
Kid Galahad is notable for another reason – Elvis’ hair. This is one of only two color movies for which Elvis did not dye his hair black. Instead, he opted for his natural brown hair.
Kid Galahad is often enjoyable and certainly stands apart from many of Elvis’ other movies, particularly in terms of effort – most notably with the boxing details. Though it never quite delivers a knockout punch, Kid Galahad is still a winner.
Michael Dante plays Joie in Kid Galahad and appears as Maab in the 1967 Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child.”
In addition, multiple uncredited cast members from Kid Galahad went on to appear in Star Trek, including:
- Dave Cadiente [Kid Galahad: Boxer | Star Trek: Enterprise Crewmember in “The Tholian Web” (1968) and the Klingon Sergeant in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)]
- Al Cavens [Kid Galahad: Fight Spectator | Star Trek: Klingon Crewman in “Day Of The Dove” (1968) and Second Fop in “All Our Yesterdays” (1969)]
- Louie Elias [Kid Galahad: Boxer | Star Trek: Various roles in “Dagger Of The Mind” (1966), “And The Children Shall Lead” (1968), “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” (1968), “The Tholian Web” (1968), and “The Cloud Minders” (1969)]
- Seamon Glass [Kid Galahad: Boxer | Star Trek: Benton in “Mudd’s Women” (1966)]
- Gil Perkins [Kid Galahad: Freddie | Star Trek: Slave #3 in “Bread And Circuses” (1968)]
- Paul Sorensen [Kid Galahad: Joe | Star Trek: Merchantman Captain in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)]
- Bill Zuckert [Kid Galahad: O’Grady | Star Trek: Johnny Behan in “Spectre Of The Gun” (1968)]
- Nick Dimitri [Kid Galahad: Boxer | Various roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990s]
- Bert Remsen [Kid Galahad: Max | Kubus in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – “The Collaborator” (1994)]
While researching the various Star Trek connections, I also noticed there are tons of cast and crew crossovers between Kid Galahad and the Rocky movies. I just don’t have the energy to capture them here, so I leave it to a more industrious Elvis or Rocky fan in the future to document them elsewhere.
Kid Galahad Tote Board
- Punches: 334 (including 11 knockouts)
- Kisses: 10
- Songs: 6
Songs In Kid Galahad
- “King Of The Whole Wide World” (1961), written by Ruth Batchelor & Bob Roberts
- “This Is Living” (1961), written by Fred Wise & Ben Weisman
- “Riding The Rainbow” (1961), written by Fred Wise & Ben Weisman
- “Home Is Where The Heart Is” (1961), written by Sherman Edwards & Hal David
- “I Got Lucky” (1961) [performed twice], written by Dolores Fuller, Fred Wise, & Ben Weisman
- “A Whistling Tune” (1961), written by Sherman Edwards & Hal David
The Mystery Train’s Kid Galahad Scorecard
- Story: 6 (out of 10)
- Acting: 8
- Fun: 4
- Songs: 4
- Overall: 6 (Worth Watching)
Kid Galahad Around The Web
- Elvis: Echoes Of The Past – “Kid Galahad (1962)” by Bob Pakes
- Deena’s Days – “Kid Galahad 1962: Elvis’ 10th Movie” by Deena Dietrich
- Elvis News Examiner – “Elvis Presley ‘Kid Galahad’ movie locations in Idyllwild, California” by Trina Young
- ElvisBlog – “Elvis Movie 50th Anniversary Pictorials: Kid Galahad, 1962” by Phil Arnold
- Elvis Today Blog – “Kid Galahad in Denmark” by Thomas Melin
- Graceland.com – “Starring Elvis Presley Podcast: ‘Kid Galahad'” featuring Libby Perry and Sheena Barnett
- Trailers From Hell – “Kid Galahad” by Glenn Erickson
- Palm Springs Life – “Elvis Was in the Building: Hidden Lodge still attracts tourists as the place the King filmed Kid Galahad” by Julie Pendray
- SeeCalifornia.com – “Viva Idyllwild, CA, An Elvis Movie Location”
- @CineFile – “The Elvis Files: Kid Galahad (1962)” by Joanna Arcieri
- Bulletproof Action – “Scene of the Week: Elvis in Kid Galahad” by Chad Cruse
- Cracked Rear Viewer – “Rockin’ in the Film World #13: Elvis Presley in KID GALAHAD (United Artists 1962)” by Gary Loggins
“I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:26-27