The Elvis Movie Awards (The Edge Of Reality #9)

What if the “Elvis movie” genre had its own awards show? Take a walk down the sepia carpet into. . . the edge of reality.

The Edge Of Reality

Below are the winners of the Elvis Movie Awards. Each winner takes home a prestigious Hal statuette.

Song

“Jailhouse Rock” from Jailhouse Rock — Lyrics by Jerry Leiber; Music by Mike Stoller

Documentary

Elvis—That’s The Way It Is — Herbert F. Solow and Dale Hutchinson, Producers

Writing

King Creole — Herbert Baker, Michael Vincente Gazzo

Actress In A Supporting Role

Dolores Hart in LOVING YOU

Dolores Hart in LOVING YOU

Dolores Hart — Loving You (“Susan Jessup”)

Actor In A Supporting Role

Walter Matthau in KING CREOLE

Walter Matthau in KING CREOLE

Walter Matthau — King Creole (“Maxie Fields”)

Actress

Ann-Margret in VIVA LAS VEGAS

Ann-Margret in VIVA LAS VEGAS

Ann-Margret — Viva Las Vegas (“Rusty Martin”)

Actor

Elvis Presley in CHANGE OF HABIT

Elvis Presley in CHANGE OF HABIT

Elvis Presley — Change of Habit (“Dr. John Carpenter”)

Directing

King Creole — Michael Curtiz

Best Motion Picture

Jailhouse Rock — Pandro S. Berman, Producer


Winners are now on their way to the most exclusive after party of them all, located somewhere deep in the heart of… the edge of reality.

[With apologies to Serling.]

King Creole: Alec falls just short of record in Elvis Trivialities #15 victory

Danny Fisher’s fake name did not fool Alec, who answered Elvis Trivialities #15 correctly before anyone else. Alec came just a minute short of tying Steve’s record time, which has stood for nearly two years.

And the answer is…

“George” is the name that Elvis Presley’s character first introduces himself as to Nellie (Dolores Hart) in the movie King Creole.

Though Danny meets her earlier in the film, he does not introduce himself to Nellie until he has her right outside of Room 205. Rather than give his real name, he tells her it is George. Within moments, however, he feels so guilty for propositioning her that he reveals his true identity. For a detailed breakdown of this scene, I refer you to the always fantastic work of Sheila O’Malley at the Sheila Variations blog.

Nellie (Dolores Hart) and "George" (Elvis Presley) outside of Room 205 in KING CREOLE

Nellie (Dolores Hart) and “George” (Elvis Presley) outside of Room 205 in KING CREOLE

First-time winner Alec not only gets a big batch of Southern Creole Bragging Rights, but also a spot among The Mystery Train’s Night Riders. An honorable mention also goes out to Gary Wells (AKA Wellsy) for giving the correct answer while Alec’s earlier comment was invisible due to being held for moderation.

* * *

Will you use your real name or a fake one if you win Elvis Trivialities next time? Subscribe to The Mystery Train Blog using the feature in the menu bar to the right. Then, you will be notified whenever there is a new post – because the next trivia challenge could come along at any moment. For all you know, I am typing it out right now.


The Mystery Train’s Night Riders

  • June 14, 2013: Alec (0:18) | Honorable Mention: Wellsy (3:01)
  • February 22, 2013: Thomas (13:36)
  • January 11, 2013: George Millar (4:19)
  • December 23, 2012: Thomas (0:36)
  • October 9, 2012: David (14:38) | Honorable Mention: John (22:06)
  • February 4, 2012: Thomas (13:52)
  • February 3, 2012: Thomas (2:18)
  • December 21, 2011: Wellsy (2:37)
  • October 31, 2011: Thomas (17:32)
  • October 1, 2011: Jimmy Cool (1:01)
  • September 9, 2011: Steve Brogdon (0:17) <— Record time
  • August 6, 2011: Thomas (2:26)
  • July 9, 2011: Thomas (5:26)
  • June 23, 2011: Fred Wolfe (0:18)
  • June 22, 2011: Ty stumps the train (no winner)

My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this year. I often remember her when I watch movies.

King Creole: Elvis Trivialities #15

Welcome to another exciting edition of Elvis Trivialities!

Elvis Trivialities On TheMysteryTrainBlog.com

Your question is…

What name does Elvis Presley’s character first introduce himself as to Nellie (Dolores Hart) in the movie King Creole?

If you’re the first person to answer this question correctly in the comments below, you will take home a big batch of Southern Creole Bragging Rights.

Good luck!


My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this year. I often remember her when I watch movies.

King Creole: A Stone For Danny Fisher

A Stone For Danny Fisher: Now A Major Motion Picture From Paramount

Herbert Baker and Michael Vincent Gazzo based the King Creole screenplay on the 1952 novel A Stone For Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins. Until I read the book, my knowledge of the author was limited to the following exchange between Jim Kirk and Spock in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Jim Kirk and Spock discuss language on 20th century Earth in STAR TREK IV

Jim Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) discuss language on 20th century Earth in STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986).

In the film, the Enterprise crew has journeyed back in time 300 years to 20th century Earth. Kirk has been trying to fit in with the natives.

Spock: Your use of language has altered since our arrival. It is currently laced with, shall I say, more colorful metaphors….
Kirk: You mean the profanity?
Spock: Yes.
Kirk: That’s simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word. You’ll find it in all the literature of the period.
Spock: For example?
Kirk: Well, the collected works of Jacqueline Susann, the novels of Harold Robbins.
Spock: Ah. The giants.

With Vulcan sarcasm in mind, I was not quite sure what to expect from Robbins’ novel.

While I feel the acting potential of Elvis Presley was never fully realized, even I acknowledge that he probably would have been less than convincing in 1958 playing a Jewish boxer from Brooklyn. Who am I to say, though? Maybe he would have pulled it off.

While Danny Fisher morphs into a religiously-ambiguous singer from New Orleans in King Creole, the interesting thing about reading the novel is that it does feel like the same character. The book, then, acts as an excellent back story for the film. According to biographer Peter Guralnick, Elvis even read the novel as part of his preparations for the movie (Last Train To Memphis, page 450).

Guralnick’s claim is backed up by the sheer strength of Elvis’ performance in the role. The character seems more than what is on the page of the film script, and I believe Elvis reading the novel beforehand is part of what makes Danny so believable. This is a character who has already lived, already has a history, before the events of the movie begin. Compare that with Vince Everett of Jailhouse Rock, who seems to fade into existence just to serve the purpose of the movie.

A Stone For Danny Fisher is written in first person perspective, meaning in this case that Danny is actually the one telling his story. I could not help but imagine much of the book with Elvis as Danny.

As one would expect, the novel captures a much broader story than the film does. While the movie focuses on Danny at 19-years-old in 1958, the book covers his life from 8-years-old in 1925 up until 27-years-old in 1944.

Only touched upon in the film, one of the recurring elements of the novel is Danny’s house. Danny’s family moves from a tight apartment into a more spacious home. Moving day is his eighth birthday, and his father tells him the house is his present.

I turned and pressed my lips to the cool floor. “I love you, house,” I whispered. “You’re the most beautiful house in the whole world, and you’re mine and I love you.”

Danny’s father loses the house during the depths of the Great Depression in 1932, and they are forced to move again. From that point on, his relationship with his father is different.

That was the night when for the first time I admitted to myself that it was not my house, that it really belonged to someone else, and there was no heart left in me for tears.

As in the movie, Danny takes Nellie to see his old house, vowing to someday buy it back.

Nellie listens to Danny talk about his house in KING CREOLE

Nellie (Dolores Hart) listens to Danny (Elvis Presley) talk about his house in KING CREOLE (1958).

The movie version of the scene is illustrative of the issues in the relationship between Danny and Nellie. More so than any other point in the movie, Danny is being open with Nellie and sharing something that is extremely important to him. She misses this entirely, barely reacting at all. It is a telling moment, as the two characters appear to be in the middle of completely different conversations.

Danny: You see that house over there? Way over there. See it? That used to be our house. Pa bought it when I was about 8-years-old. It was kind of my birthday present. We sure had a lot of happy times there. I’m gonna buy that house back someday or one just like it. And I guarantee nobody’s gonna take it away from me. Nobody.
Nellie: I told my mother about you. I told her I met a million-dollar boyfriend in a five and ten cents store.

In the novel, Nellie is much more present in the scene. It draws them closer together, while the film version seems to distance them.

We were standing on a dark empty corner, almost ten o’clock at night, in a neighborhood in Brooklyn she had never even known about. I raised my hand and pointed across the street. “See it?” I asked. […] “It’s my house. I used to live there. Maybe soon we’ll be able to move back.”

A sudden light came into her eyes. She glanced quickly at the house, then back at me. Her mouth softened gently. “It is a beautiful house, Danny,” she said in an understanding voice.

My hand tightened on her arm. “Papa gave it to me for my birthday when I was eight years old,” I explained to her. […]

“And now you will move back here,” she whispered softly, pressing her face against my shoulder. “Oh, Danny, I’m so happy for you!”

As told through Danny’s eyes, the writing of the novel varies from crude to eloquent. Even the movie shows some of this dichotomy of character. Think of the crudeness of Danny propositioning the innocent Nellie outside of Room 205 versus the eloquence of him singing “As Long As I Have You,” for instance. While the overall tone is often gritty, I was surprised at the beauty of certain passages of the novel. Though a boxer and later a business man of questionable virtue, Danny has a poet’s soul.

I find Danny in King Creole to be a frustrating character because he seems to have a good heart, yet keeps taking the wrong steps or simply getting bad breaks. The novel version of Danny has many of the same qualities. Like his house, true happiness often seems just within his reach, before it is ripped away from him. Seeing this pattern, Nellie eventually becomes afraid of the house, afraid of what will happen when Danny finally obtains what he has sought for so long.

Reading the book made me realize that Baker and Gazzo’s screen adaptation represents a masterpiece of writing in its own right. It pulls bits and pieces from the novel and carves out a new, yet familiar story. To reference more recent Star Trek movies, King Creole feels like an alternate universe version of the Danny Fisher story.

It was almost as if I were watching this from a seat in the movies. I wasn’t really a part of it. It was another guy named Danny Fisher, and he had gone away two years ago and never really come back.

Though the fates of certain characters differ from the film, the book also offers the rare opportunity to find out “what happens next.”

While a departure from what I normally read, A Stone For Danny Fisher is a worthwhile, well-written novel that sheds more light on the story behind King Creole and the material that inspired how Elvis portrayed his character.


My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this year. I often remember her when I watch movies.

King Creole: The Making Of The Movie

Elvis Presley, 1958

Elvis Presley in King Creole, 1958

King Creole was based on the 1952 novel A Stone For Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins. The novel’s protagonist is a boxer in New York, which the movie adapted into a singer in New Orleans to better suit audience expectations of its star, Elvis Presley. Elvis read the novel as part of his preparations for the role of Danny Fisher.

Producer Hal Wallis had been trying to get the film version of A Stone For Danny Fisher off the ground since 1955, long before Elvis was attached to the project. At that time, A Stone For Danny Fisher was also playing as an off-Broadway production.

James Dean was even rumored to have been in the running for the movie’s lead at one point. This was Wallis’ second Elvis movie. He would go on to produce nine Elvis movies in all.

Hal Wallis: “Michael Curtiz directed the film and he has a very sharp but romantic instinct. Walter Matthau made an excellent heavy and we had marvelous locations in New Orleans” (1).

Controversy swirled around King Creole before shooting even began. In late 1957, Elvis received his draft notice ordering him into the US Army as of January 1958.

With production slated to begin in Hollywood that same month, Paramount requested a deferment from the Memphis draft board, citing $300,000 it had already pumped into the movie during pre-production. Milton Bowers of the draft board replied that a deferment might be possible under the circumstances, but that Elvis would have to be the one to request it.

On Christmas Eve, 1957, Elvis wrote a letter requesting extra time before reporting to the Army in order to make King Creole. He completed the letter by wishing a “Merry Christmas” to the draft board members. Bowers and the draft board indeed granted his extension request, but soon received heat from other organizations – including the national chapter of the American Legion – calling for the immediate induction of Elvis.

Milton Bowers: “You know what made me angry about the entire thing is that he would have automatically gotten the extension if he hadn’t been Elvis Presley the superstar” (2).

Elvis Presley: “I’m glad they were nice enough to let me make this picture because I think it will be the best one I’ve made” (3).

On January 10, 1958, just two days after celebrating his 23rd birthday, Elvis departed Memphis on a train for Los Angeles. He brought along several friends, including Alan Fortas.

Alan Fortas: “Every town we passed through, no matter what time of morning or night, the whole station was jam-packed. These people knew as soon as Elvis finished this movie, he was going in the Army, so most of them considered it the last time to see him. […] People knew and they were lined up along the tracks all the way across America” (4).

Elvis arrived in Hollywood on January 13 and reported for pre-production. During the week, he also began work on the soundtrack at Radio Recorders.

During pre-production, the movie was titled Sing, You Sinners. This title was changed to Danny, and finally King Creole, based on the strength of the rock ‘n’ roll tune Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote for the soundtrack.

Filming began on January 20. Many of Elvis’ early scenes were with Jan Shepard, who played his sister, Mimi.

Jan Shepard: “[W]e worked together alone for about a week, because we did the opening of the show. He was […] just a lot of fun and buoyant, not guarded at all. There was a five-and-dime store on our set, and in the morning I would find earrings and little bracelets, little five-and-dime stuff on my dressing room table. I used to call him the last of the big-time spenders!” (5)

Because of his character’s name, Elvis often sang “Danny Boy” on set. He would return to the folk song many times over the years, including a 1959 home recording captured while he was stationed in Germany (available on the posthumous release A Golden Celebration). He formally recorded the song in 1976 at Graceland for the album From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. An organist played the song at the beginning of Elvis’ funeral in 1977.

Dolores Hart appeared as Nellie, one of Danny’s love interests. She had previously appeared with Elvis in 1957’s Loving You, also a Hal Wallis production.

Elvis Presley: “[King Creole] was quite a challenge for me because it was written for a more experienced actor” (6).

Dolores Hart: “Elvis, no matter what anyone says, deserves credit as a person of talent. There is no reason he shouldn’t soar to the heights the kings [of the screen] occupy now” (7).

Jan Shepard: “[Elvis] was very concentrated, very focused on playing Danny. For a kid coming in and just beginning his career he had a great sense of timing; there was great honesty in his acting. He was a very good listener, and he just became the young boy […]. Just like in his music, he really got involved in his acting” (5).

Walter Matthau played Fisher’s antagonist, Maxie Fields. It was his sixth film.

Walter Matthau, 1958

Walter Matthau in King Creole

Walter Matthau: “I almost hesitate, I creep up to the sentence, [Elvis] was an instinctive actor. Because that is almost a derogation of his talents. That’s saying, ‘Well, you know, he’s just a dumb animal who does it well by instinct.’ No, he was quite bright, too. He was very intelligent. Also, he was intelligent enough to understand what a character was and how to play the character simply by being himself through the means of the story” (8).

Michael Curtiz’s directing credits extended back to 1912. In addition to 1942’s Casablanca, for which he won an Oscar, his other work, from among nearly 200 films, included the 1937 original version of Kid Galahad, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and White Christmas (1954). Curtiz was attached to King Creole before it was transformed into an Elvis movie.

Jan Shepard: “Curtiz said he thought Elvis was going to be a very conceited boy, but when he started working with him, he said, ‘No, this is a lovely boy, and he’s going to be a wonderful actor'” (5).

Walter Matthau: “Michael Curtiz used to call him Elvy and he’d call me Valty. He’d say, ‘Now Elvy and Valty, come here, now Valty, this is not Academy Award scene. Don’t act so much. You are high-price actor. Make believe you are low-price actor. Let Elvy act.’ But Elvy didn’t overact. He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate . . . refined and sophisticated” (8).

Jan Shepard: “You just didn’t have a lot of fooling around with Curtiz […]. But no matter what Curtiz would ask of Elvis, he would say, ‘Okay, you’re the boss'” (5).

Elvis at a party in 1958

Elvis performing at Jan Shepard’s birthday party on February 22, 1958. Also pictured is Dolores Hart on clarinet.

Hart threw a birthday party for Shepard on February 22. Elvis showed up with a stuffed tiger that he named “Danny Boy.” His birthday gift for Shepard was a movie camera, definitely not from the five-and-dime store. He also played guitar and sang at the party.

King Creole was the first Elvis movie to include location shooting. On March 1, the film’s cast and crew headed for New Orleans by train. At this point, Red West, Elvis’ friend since his high school days, and actor Nick Adams, who Elvis had befriended in 1956, joined up with the rest of his entourage for the trip.

Carolyn Jones played Ronnie, Danny’s other love interest. She brought her husband, actor Aaron Spelling, along for the train ride to New Orleans. The couple would divorce in 1964. Spelling later went on to produce dozens of television series, including Charlie’s Angels and Beverly Hills 90210.

Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, expressed concerns about security on the location shoot to Wallis. Wallis assured Parker that they could handle it. After all, he had worked with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis at the peak of the duo’s popularity.

Alan Fortas: “There were thousands of people. Hal Wallis couldn’t believe it. […] I never saw so many people in my life. They declared it Elvis Presley Day and let the kids out of school and it took us two hours to get back to the hotel no matter where we were, even from across the street” (9).

In the French Quarter, the car carrying Elvis was almost overturned by the massive crowd.

Carolyn Jones: “[Elvis] had to ride in an old sedan, lying on the floor in the back, so his fans couldn’t mob him” (10).

Elvis took over the tenth floor of the Roosevelt Hotel, one block from where they were filming in the French Quarter. Hotel security was so tight that no one was admitted to the tenth floor. As a joke, Hart, Jones, and Adams armed themselves with toy guns and held up the elevator operator to force their way to Elvis’ floor. The elevator operator was not in on the joke and was apparently still shaken the next day.

Alan Fortas: “[W]e got on the elevator and we said, ‘Tenth floor, please.’ The elevator operator said, ‘No, sir, I can’t stop on the tenth floor. Mr. Presley is up there and we just can’t stop.’ Elvis was on the elevator with us and he said, ‘Yeah, I know. I’m Elvis.’ The elevator operator looked straight at him and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, I can’t stop on that floor for anybody.’ We had to go to the eleventh floor and walk down” (9).

The film’s climax was shot at a house on stilts at Lake Pontchartrain. Elvis and Jones shared scenes there.

Carolyn Jones: “[Elvis] was always asking a lot of questions. God, he was young! I didn’t think anyone could be that young. He was always talking about his folks and about the house [Graceland] he’d just bought them” (8).

When onlookers at Lake Pontchartrain became unmanageable, Elvis had to escape through the back of the house to a motorboat that whisked him away.

Though Memphis was tantalizingly close, the group had to return by train to Hollywood to be released from King Creole. Elvis attended a wrap party on March 12, and then he and his friends were on yet another train. Destination: Memphis.

Alan Fortas: “We’d just sit and talk [on the train], try to write songs, try to sing. You know, just typical ol’ boys. But it got to us by the time we got to Dallas. We couldn’t take it any longer. So we got off that train and rented some Cadillacs and drove the rest of the way home” (11).

Elvis arrived home on March 14 and was inducted into the Army on March 24.

Paramount released King Creole throughout the United States on July 2. It peaked at #5 on the Variety charts. At this time, Private Presley was still stationed at Fort Hood in Texas.

Hal Wallis: “Now, although I don’t have all the figures, I believe that one of the least successful of Elvis’s films was King Creole. But that was my favorite!” (1)

Dolores Hart and Elvis Presley in King Creole

Dolores Hart and Elvis in King Creole

Dolores Hart: “Elvis is a young man with an enormous capacity of love . . . but I don’t think he has found his happiness. I think he is terribly lonely” (12).

According to longtime friend Sonny West, if Elvis had his way, he would have reunited with director Michael Curtiz when Elvis was cast in a remake of Kid Galahad, which filmed in late 1961 (13). This time, Elvis actually played a boxer, albeit a singing one. Despite Elvis’ campaign, Phil Karlson received the directing nod instead. Curtiz passed away in April 1962 at the age of 74.

Elvis later reunited with Jan Shepard in 1966’s Paradise, Hawaiian Style, in which she played Betty Kohana. Shepard had maintained a friendship with Hart after King Creole. By this time, the quality of Elvis’ movies had declined. While King Creole is a contender for Elvis’ best movie, Paradise, Hawaiian Style is a contender for his worst.

Jan Shepard: “One time [Elvis] asked about Dolores Hart, and we had a little bit of a conversation. In the quiet moments, he was still very sweet. When we reminisced about Creole, he said, ‘Honey, that was my favorite picture'” (14).


Bibliography

  • Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1999.
  • Down At The End Of Lonely Street: The Life And Death Of Elvis Presley by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske, Dutton, New York, 1997.
  • ELVIS: The Biography by Jerry Hopkins, Plexus, London, 2007.
  • Elvis Commemorative Edition, compiled by Bill DeNight, Sharon Fox, and Ger Rijff, Publications International, Lincolnwood, IL, 2002.
  • Elvis Day By Day: The Definitive Record Of His Life And Music by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, Ballantine Books, New York, 1999.
  • The Elvis Encyclopedia by Adam Victor, Overlook Duckworth, New York, 2008.
  • Elvis: The Great Performances, dir. Andrew Solt, perf. Elvis Presley, 1989, DVD, SOFA, 2011.
  • Elvis: His Life From A To Z by Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1990.
  • Elvis In Private, edited by Peter Haining, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1987.
  • Elvis: Still Taking Care Of Business by Sonny West with Marshall Terrill, Triumph Books, Chicago, 2007.
  • Good Rockin’ Tonight: Twenty Years On The Road And On The Town With Elvis by Joe Esposito and Elena Oumano, Avon Books, New York, 1994.
  • Internet Movie Database, accessed March 23, 2013.
  • King Creole, dir. Michael Curtiz, perf. Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, and Walter Matthau, 1958, DVD, Paramount, 2000.
  • Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1994.
  • Viva Las Elvis: Celebrating The King, compiled by Peggy Thompson, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver, 1994.

References

(1) Elvis In Private, p. 92
(2) Down At The End Of Lonely Street, p. 137
(3) Last Train To Memphis, p. 446
(4) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 129
(5) Last Train To Memphis, p. 450
(6) Last Train To Memphis, p. 456
(7) Elvis Commemorative Edition, p. 112
(8) Last Train To Memphis, p. 451
(9) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 130
(10) Down At The End Of Lonely Street, p. 139
(11) ELVIS: The Biography, p. 131
(12) Elvis: His Life From A To Z, p. 85
(13) Elvis: Still Taking Care Of Business, p. 120
(14) Careless Love, p. 209


My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this month. I often remember her when I watch movies.

Spotlight: King Creole

Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958)

Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958)

Filmed and released in 1958, King Creole was Elvis Presley’s fourth film. Elvis’ induction into the US Army was postponed so that he could complete this movie, and by the time it hit theaters, he was already a soldier.

Despite some outward similarities, King Creole is not just any Elvis movie. All discussions of his best performances as an actor have to include this film. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), King Creole is probably the most artistic film in Elvis’ body of work.

Elvis stars as Danny Fisher, a high school student in New Orleans on the verge of graduating. After a chance encounter with Ronnie (Carolyn Jones), a woman tied to crime boss Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau), Danny’s life turns upside down as he is lured into a dark world and ensnared by Fields.

Along the way, Danny does indeed become a singer as well as the object of the affections of Nellie (Dolores Hart). He also proves to be great with his fists, for King Creole is perhaps Elvis’ most violent movie. Sure, there are fistfights in many Elvis movies, but the King Creole fights are at a different intensity.

When I went to pull out the DVD of King Creole a couple weeks ago, I found it still in its original shrink wrap. I’ve had the movie long enough to not even remember how I obtained it, yet in all those years, I had not once opened and watched it.

This meant that it had been over ten years since I had watched King Creole, as my previous copy was a VHS tape. Thinking back, it was probably more like 14 years ago. I know, I know, time to turn in my Elvis fan card.

Among his four 1950s movies, Jailhouse Rock and Loving You seem to be the ones I gravitate towards. I enjoy watching most Elvis movies, though, so why had I neglected King Creole – undeniably one of his best – all these years?

When I watched the DVD of King Creole that night, I began to remember my impressions of it as a 23-year-old and understand why I did not revisit it often. There were really two reasons I did not connect with King Creole very well back then.

The first was that I found it really frustrating to watch Fields manipulate good-hearted Danny. I kept wanting Danny to see through the ruse. Of course, that would have made for a much shorter movie.

Dolores Hart as Nellie in King Creole

Dolores Hart as Nellie in King Creole

The second reason was that I just could not understand why Danny found the broken Ronnie so compelling compared to the innocent Nellie – who he treated rather coldly at times.

After watching the movie twice last month, however, I realized that this actually has much more to do with the fact that I find Dolores Hart (Nellie) to be one of his most attractive co-stars (right up there with Ann-Margret and Shelly Fabares) rather than anything the movie actually presents.

Plus, since Hart also appeared in a larger role in Loving You, I was really combining her two characters into one. While I view some aspects of Danny’s conflict differently than I did when I was 23 (more on that in a future post), I still love Dolores Hart. I would not have been torn. (As it turned out, Hart had a higher calling and left Hollywood a few years later to become a nun.)

While I’ve not seen the movie often, I’ve listened to the soundtrack countless times. It was fun to see Elvis perform the songs I’ve been listening to for so long.

I have at least a dozen ideas for posts around King Creole. I’ll try to squeeze in as many as I can over the next few months.


My grandmother worked in the ticket booth of a theater for decades. I dedicate this series of movie posts to her, who would have turned 103 this month. I often remember her when I watch movies.