Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Anyone wanting to see in stark contrast the sullen and moody Elvis of the rock'n'roll era of the Fifties and by comparison a kitsch by-the-number Elvis knock-off film from the Sixties should grab this double DVD release.
Jailhouse Rock from '57 shows the sexy king of rock'n'roll as the lip-curling, angry young man who gets banged up in jail, meets a country singer whom he talks to be a mentor, comes out and starts a singing career only to find . . .
Widely considered Elvis' finest screen moment -- he apparently helped choreograph the famous dance sequence -- Jailhouse Rock is essential viewing, and of course it came with some pretty decent Leiber-Stoller songs (including Treat Me Nice as well as the title track).
There are also some classic Wild One/Brando-like lines of dialogue too, but we let you discover them for yourself.
The '66 film Spinout came with some good songs too -- better than you might expect although there are the formula pop-rock fillers -- but as an "actor" this was Elvis on autopilot.
Made the same year as the Beatles' Rubber Soul, Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, the rise of the Byrds and nascent psychedelic rock, Elvis was still the slick-back matinee idol -- slim and handsome however -- in a frothy comedy where he is that fairly common pairing, a racing car driver and a singer.
Love interest was Shelley Fabares (her father was played by Carl Betz, they'd been in the same roles in The Donna Reed Show on telelvision some years previous) but there's very little going on plot-wise. And of course whether they are in the forest or driving racing cars, it's all on a soundstage and there's barely a hair out of place.
The sole enjoyment -- aside from Elvis singing -- comes from watching go-go girls do the Frug or whatever. The King looked like a man out of time and unfortunately there would be another half dozen and more Presley films like this.
So why would we recommend this double set when half of it is pretty ordinary? Well, it's a chance to compare and contrast the potential and the outcome of Elvis going to Hollywood, the man before and after his military service, the difference between art and artifice . . .
But mostly because these two films come at the ridiculously cheap price of $7 (for both!) at JB Hi-Fi stores here.
And given most people have probably seen neither but may have heard of the former, that indeed is a Bargain Buy.