Jailhouse Rock (1957) starring Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy, Vaughn Taylor, Jennifer Holden, Dean Jones directed by Richard Thorpe Movie Review

Jailhouse Rock (1957)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Elvis Presley as Vince Everett in Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Rock and Parole

"Jailhouse Rock" was Elvis's third movie and easily one of his better ones. The reason why it is one of his better ones is that you can see that Elvis cared, the actual storyline might not be great but you can see that he was trying to deliver a character. Unfortunately as it is well known it didn't take long for Elvis to become despondent with his film career as he was offered corny movies which only required him to be handsome and sing and most certainly didn't challenge him as an actor.

After accidentally killing a man in a bar fight Vince Everett (Elvis Presley - Loving You) finds himself sent down for a year on a charge of manslaughter. He finds himself sharing a cell with old timer Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), a former singer who was sent down for a bank job and it is Hunk who spots Vince's talent for singing and suggests when they get out they should go into show business together. Having got out before Hank Vince attempts to make it in the business alone but finds it harder than he imagined when no one listens to him and the industry doesn't play fair. Realising he will get no where playing by their rules decides to set out with his only record label with the help of the attractive Peggy (Judy Tyler).

Judy Tyler and Dean Jones in Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Part of the reason why "Jailhouse Rock" is one of Elvis's better movies is that he has a chance to deliver a character and whilst Elvis at this time wasn't a great actor he was trying to be. The character of Vince allows him to do moody rebel who is prone to sudden outbursts of rage when things don't go right. The scene in the bar where Vince becomes frustrated by a man talking over his singing only to jump down and smash his guitar across the table shows that attempt to deliver that angry young man character. And I could so on because through out the movie there are scenes which show what Elvis could have done given the chance to deliver character rather than just asked to sing and flirt with women.

But get beyond Elvis's performance and "Jailhouse Rock" doesn't have a lot else going for it. Yes the supporting performances are good especially from Judy Tyler who works well with Elvis to bring out that performance from him although as Peggy she doesn't have the greatest of characters, a slimly written attractive woman who encourages and cares for Vince. And of course there are numerous musical scenes plenty of gentle soft ones as Elvis sings these beautiful songs plus of course "Jailhouse Rock" itself which is part of the reason why this movie is one of Elvis's better known. But the actual storyline whilst better than many of Elvis's later movies is not great and at times is a bit corny, relying on a narration to keep things moving during the second half.

What this all boils down to is that "Jailhouse Rock" is not a great movie as it doesn't have the greatest of storylines. But what it does have is Elvis Presley when he still wanted to make it as an actor and it is his performance, his endeavour to bring his character to life which makes this worth watching.