Gotta Find My Baby!

July 21, 2022

A More Serious and Violent Elvis: King Creole

KING CREOLE (US, 1958)

Title:
King Creole
Filmed:
January 20 - March 12, 1958
Released:
July 2, 1958
Running time:
116min
Production company:
Paramount Pictures
Budget:
US$ 1.500,000
Box office:
US$ 3,5 milhões
Main cast:
Elvis Presley
Carolyn Jones
Walter Matthau
Dean Jagger
Vic Morrow
Soundtrack:
"Hard Headed Woman" (single)
[b/w "Don't Ask Me Why"]
(July 10, 1958
"King Creole Volume 1" (EP)
July 15, 1958)
"King Creole Volume 2" (EP)
(July 29, 1958)
"King Creole" (LP)
(September 19, 1958)
"King Creole" (CD/LP)
(FTD, 2010/2015/2016)



King Creole is Elvis' fourth film, his last in the 1950s and his last before he was drafted into the Army for two years. In it, Danny is a teenager torn between finishing his studies and having a career or indulging in crime.

In February 1955, producer Hal Wallis had made an expensive investment of $25,000 to buy the rights to "A Stone For Danny Fisher," a story he would make into a movie and offer the lead role to either James Dean or Ben Gazzarra. Dean died before he was even contacted and Gazzarra didn't even know he was considered at the time.

After a successful presentation of the story at the theater in January 1957, the name of Elvis Presley began to be probed. With the contract closed, the Danny Fisher character was modified to fit Elvis. Danny became a singer instead of a boxer and the story was set in New Orleans instead of New York.

Wallis chose Michael Curtiz to direct the production because he trusted the director and they had already worked together on classics such as "Casablanca" (1942). Curtiz decided to shoot in black and white to give more drama and a noir air to the film, adding experienced supporting actors such as Walter Matthau (Bigger Than Life, 1956) and Carolyn Jones (better known as Morticia Addams from The Addams Family, 1964- 1966), and asked Elvis to lose 4 pounds and remove his sideburns (which he did).

But on December 20, 1957, the production was practically doomed to oblivion when Elvis was called up to serve in the Army. Paramount worked hard to get the call-up postponed to March 1958.

Elvis and the female cast

Filming began on January 20, 1958 and ran until March 12. Two real locations were used (the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain) and a few scenes were shot at Paramount Studios in California.

While filming in New Orleans, Elvis had to change the location where he lived several times to avoid the crowding of fans. As privacy was very difficult to achieve in a town that knew who was filming there, the production placed all actors and crew members on the tenth floor of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The film premiered at New York's Loew's State Theater on July 2, 1958. The production ranked 5th in revenue for several weeks and received positive reviews from several columnists, although a few felt that Elvis was no match and should not have been placed in the midst of so many talented people.

Elvis and Walter Matthau during a scene

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SOUNDTRACK

On July 10, 1958, RCA released a single containing "Hard Headed Woman" and "Don't Ask Me Why", the former reaching #1 on the charts and the latter reaching #25. The label also released the entire soundtrack content in two EPs on July 15th and 29th.

King Creole's musical influence was such that 10 years later, in the 1968 CBS special, one of the great successes was the first live version of "Trouble".




Ten weeks after the film's release, finally the LP with all the songs contained in the production is released by RCA. Recorded in 4 sessions on Radio Recorders, the album contains songs strictly written for the film. The LP stayed at #2 on the charts for a few weeks and was certified Gold in 1999.

In 1997 and 2005 CD versions of the album were released containing alternate takes and undubbed versions. At this time, the song "Danny" was also released for the first time on CD, which was written for the film but never used. From 2010 to 2016, FTD released all available production content.




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SUPPORTING CAST


WALTER MATTHAU

Walter John Matthou was born on October 1, 1920 in New York, and became interested in acting as a child. After World War II he devoted himself to cinema, having made his first major role in 1955 and becoming highly regarded.

His career spanned 52 years and included 96 works in film, theater and television. At the end of his career, Matthau became well known for the comedies he made alongside his good friend Jack Lemmon.

Walter Matthau died in 2000, aged 79, after a massive heart attack.


CAROLYN JONES
Carolyn Sue Jones was born on April 28, 1930 in Amarillo, Texas. She began her career in 1952 and entered 1958 already being a candidate for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Although she has made 34 films and more than 50 TV series appearances, her best-known role is Mortitia Addams from the sitcom The Addams Family (1964-1966), for which she won a Golden Globe.

Jones discovered that she had colon cancer in 1981, a disease that spread rapidly.

Even in the midst of terrible pain, the actress still worked until her death in 1983, at age 53.


DEAN JAGGER

Jagger was born on November 7, 1903 in Ohio and began his career in the 1920s, having his first big break in 1937 and winning an Oscar in 1949 for his performance in Twelve O'Clock High.

His career, which spanned 58 years, was based on westerns, war and dramas such as King Creole.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the actor began to appear in B movies, usually horror or catastrophe. His last film was "Evil Town", a nearly trashy horror about a man who arrives in a quiet town and discovers that a mad scientist plans to assemble an army of zombies.

The actor died in 1991, aged 87, of heart failure.

LILIANE MONTEVECCHI

Born in Paris, France, October 13, 1932, the French-Italian actress and dancer began her dance education at the age of 8 at The Paris Opera. A student of the leading names in dance, she received the honor, in 1949, of dancing at the coronation of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in Monte Carlo.

Her international career began in 1955 with a contract with MGM, one of her best-known films being "Daddy Long Legs" (1955), with Fred Astaire. After Elvis in 1958, the actress began to be called to participate in renowned series and plays, such as "Gigi" and "Hello, Dolly!".

In 2012 she starred in her own play in several US cities with great success. In January 2017, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ziegfeld Society of New York City.

Liliane passed away on June 29, 2018, aged 85.

VIC MORROW

Born Victor Morozoff on February 14, 1929, in the Bronx, New York, he dropped out of high school at age 17 to enlist in the Army. In 1958 Vic married actress and screenwriter Barbara Turner, with whom he had two daughters, the most famous being actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Morrow is best known for the series "Combat!" (1962-1965). The actor died on July 23, 1982, at the age of 53, when a helicopter crashed on him and two actresses due to a pyrotechnic accident during the filming of "The Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983).

PAUL STEWART

Paul Stenberg was born on March 13, 1908 in Manhattan, attended public school and graduated from university, majoring in Law. Despite this, his real aptitude was for the theater, starting to study acting in 1925. His debut on Broadway was in 1930 and in cinema the following year. His association with Orson Welles yielded great works such as the radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" in 1938, which caused terror in the US population, and the film "Citizen Kane" (1941).

His success continued to increase in the following years in theater productions, TV series and motion pictures such as King Creole (1958), "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964), "Day of the Locust" (1975) and "MacGyver". (1985-1992).

Paul Stewart died on February 17, 1986, aged 77.




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