Paramount Presents: King Creole                       review by Drusilla Blakey

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Paramount has a long history with some iconic films in their vast library. Now they are digging into that library and offering up a new selection of releases in their Paramount Presents collection. The latest getting the treatment is the 1958 Elvis film King Creole.  

Elvis Presley plays Danny Fisher, who flunks out of high school and does what he can to help his family survive, including taking on several dead end jobs in order to make ends meet.  His singing talent is discovered and he begins working at a nightclub, “The King Creole”.  However, New Orleans crime boss Maxie Fields (played by a very young Walter Matthau) wants Danny’s talents for his own nightclub.  And as we soon find out, no one says ‘no’ to Maxie!

 

I am a huge Elvis fan, but I am clear headed enough to admit, that not all of his films were great. Sometimes he felt stiff or very much like “Elvis in a movie” instead of an actor.  However, this film is one of the good ones!  Elvis even said that this was his favorite movie and honestly, he did a great acting job in this film.  This special DVD release has some great featurettes and in one of them you find out that the director really allowed him to be at peace and actually act.  So much of Elvis’ life was run by Colonel Parker, his overbearing manager, that it always makes me wonder what could his acting career have become if he had actually been given some formal training and a chance to grow in this area of his life.  

 

The movie includes some very memorable tunes include "King Creole", "Trouble", “Hard Headed Woman” and "As Long As I Have You". It’s nice being able to see the performances in the film in a setting that seems so natural; Elvis singing on a stage.  Sometimes his other films would have random songs just thrown in for the sake of having a song, but having his character be a singer in a nightclub really plays to his strength and displays his natural charisma in front of a live audience.

 

I also enjoy the black and white nature of the film.  At this point, color movies were being filmed, but the director, Michael Curtiz (who directed Casablanca, Robin Hood, White Christmas) wanted it to feel very ‘film noir’ so made the decision to go with black and white and it’s actually stunning to watch.  I also appreciate the clothing, hair and makeup of the time period; fabulous!

 

The movie also stars Carolyn Jones (who most will know as Morticia Addams from the Addams Family TV series, or Wonder Woman’s mom in the Wonder Woman series) who I sometimes found to be a bit off-putting and unlikable. I get her femme fatale appeal of the time, but her character is so damaged and two faced, that it was a bit hard to be sympathetic. 

 

Overall the film is very enjoyable and one that I could watch again and again. For any Elvis fan, this is a movie that should not be missed. I know you will enjoy it as much as I do!

These all new releases from the Paramount archive feature a new 4K transfer of the film, bonus content and exclusive collectible packaging. Grab your copy of the Paramount Presents: King Creole available now from Paramount Home Entertainment.