Gotta Find My Baby!

July 07, 2022

Elvis, The Prisoner of Rock: Jailhouse Rock

JAILHOUSE ROCK (US, 1957)

Title:
Jailhouse Rock
Filmed:
May 13 - June 17, 1957
Released:
November 8, 1957
Running time:
96min
Production company:
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer
Budget:
US$ 400,000
Box office:
US$ 4 million
Main cast:
Elvis Presley
Judy Tyler
Mickey Shaughnessy
Jennifer Holden
Vaughn Taylor
Dean Jones
Soundtrack:
"Jailhouse Rock" (single)
[b/w "Treat Me Nice"]
(September 24, 1957)
"Jailhouse Rock" (EP)
(October 30, 1957)
"Jailhouse Rock / Love Me Tender (CD)"
(April 15, 1997)
"Jailhouse Rock, Volumes 1 & 2 (CD/LP)"
(FTD, 2009/2010/2018)




After the success of the first two films, Elvis was already well regarded by film companies. With that, producer Pandro Berman's wife convinced him to use Presley in adapting a screenplay based on a story written by screenwriter Nedrick Young.

Despite being the third production with The King of Rock, the film was not listed by MGM as one of the 1957 releases in its annual Variety ad because Nedrick Young was one of the writers on the studios' "blacklist".

Pandro left the casting choice in the hands of Benny Thau and Abe Lastfogel, who decided that Judy Tyler would be the right actress to play opposite Elvis. Then director Richard Thorpe (Murder at Dawn, 1932) was hired, known for shooting quickly (in fact, filming lasted only 34 days).

For the soundtrack Pandro decided on Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, something that would end up in the hilarious scene where music producer Jean Aberback locked them in a hotel room until they had created all the material for the film due to delays in the delivery of the same.



The choreography of the main scene, where Elvis dances with the prisoners, was developed by Alex Romero. The choreographer used the work of Fred Astaire and Grace Kelly to do so.

The choreography and the scene itself are remembered to this day as "Elvis' finest moment in cinema" and for the feel of "spectacular eroticization, if not homoeroticization, of the male image". In the scene, as well as the scenes inside the prison, Elvis used a wig and makeup to cover his hair and whiskers. All songs in the production were dubbed by Elvis and no re-recording was done, one of the hallmarks of Thorpe's fast-paced filming.

Poster sent to movie theaters by MGM


Jailhouse Rock premiered on November 8, 1957 at Loew's State Theater in Memphis. Its box office remained until 1969 as one of the largest in cinema, equivalent to US$ 33 million today. The national premiere took place on November 18 and placed the film at the fourth position among the most watched of 1957.

Despite the good results, critics had a negative view of the production. For them, forcing the supporting roles to follow and submit to the main character's mannerisms throughout the film was an extremely distasteful idea. The Parent-Teacher Association heavily criticized the scene in which Elvis and Judy Tyler appear lying in the same bed and called the film "a hell with absent human values". A promotional poster for the film, where Elvis hugs Judy Tyler, was banned from circulation as it was considered "an explicit sexual act".


The controversial promotional still

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SOUNDTRACK

During the film's promotion, a single was released on September 24, 1957. It contained the title song on the A-side and "Treat Me Nice", the only song that would not appear on the film's official album, on the opposite side. The single reached number one on the charts upon release and remained at the top for three weeks.

Unlike the first two films, the Jailhouse Rock soundtrack did not receive an LP and only had four of the six songs released on an EP.

"Treat Me Nice", also featured in the film, was left out of this work and was only released as part of the soundtrack on a 1997 CD that also featured the complete Love Me Tender score for the first time. In its place, RCA originally put a Loving You extra, the song "Don't Leave Me Now".

The soundtrack was recorded in 6 sessions on Radio Recorders and MGM's Sound Stage.





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SUPPORTING CAST

JUDY TYLER

Born Judy Mae Hess on October 9, 1932 in Manhattan, New York, her career began as a child in theater. As a teenager, she was a regular on the series "Howdy Doody" between 1950 and 1953. Her last film was "Jailhouse Rock", released posthumously, but her last TV appearance was in December 1957, more than six months after her death.

After finishing her scenes in "Jailhouse Rock", Judy and her husband Greg decided to drive home to Manhattan on July 3, 1957. They were involved in a serious car accident where Judy, aged just 24, died instantly, and her husband the next day.

Elvis never saw the film again after the actress died.

MICKEY SHAUGHNESSY

Joseph C. Shaughnessy was born on August 5, 1920 in New York, New York and became well known for his roles as the lovable, tough but unintelligent guy. In that sphere, the most remembered is what he did in "Jailhouse Rock".

Mickey made 18 films in 18 years, between 1952 and 1970. In addition to film, he also worked on TV shows and performed in nightclub comedy numbers—something he did until his dying days.

The actor died of heart failure due to lung cancer on July 23, 1985, aged 64.


JENNIFER HOLDEN

Holden was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 24, 1936 and decided to venture into film at age 18.

She was chosen to act in the film, which marks her film debut, for her versatility and seriousness. The fact that she studied drama with Lillian Roth, one of the biggest names on Broadway from the 1920s to 1940s, also caught their attention. Despite this, the actress only made 3 films between 1957 and 1958.

There is no detailed information about her current whereabouts, but it is known that-as of 2022-she is still alive and is 85 years old.



VAUGHN TAYLOR

Born February 22, 1910 in Boston, Massachusetts, Taylor worked as a notary public in his youth and was married in 1933 to Broadway broadcaster and actress Ruth Moss.

After serving in the army during World War II, he returned to the US and began working as an extra or supporting actor in several films and series.

His first major role came with Jailhouse Rock, which led to bigger productions such as "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) with Elizabeth Taylor, "Psycho" (1960) by Alfred Hitchcock, and his final performance "The Gumball Rally" (1976), with Gary Busey.

Vaughn Taylor retired in 1976 due to health issues. The actor died of natural causes on April 26, 1983, aged 73.

DEAN JONES

Born Dean Carroll Jones on January 25, 1931 in Decatur, Alabama, Dean already had his own radio show in town while he was in college. After returning from the Korean War, the actor went to residency at a California theater, made his film debut in 1956 and made his theater debut in 1960 alongside Jane Fonda.

Jones went on to appear as the lead actor in several Disney films starting in 1963, with "Blackbeard's Ghost" (1968) being the most remembered. The series of films about the Beetle Herbie (1977-1997) is another of his career highlights.

The actor died due to Parkinson's Disease on September 1, 2015, aged 84.



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