I know I probably could have left it at Bubba Ho-Tep, but more Elvis ain't a bad thing.
I was kinda stumped for Elvis material before the new movie but I heard on good account that this movie is one of his best, and it just so happens to be his favorite movie that he ever made so how could you go wrong. I heard tale that James Dean was originally considered for the role and knowing that, I kinda get why the movie is this way. The story concerns flunking high school student Danny who keeps getting into scuffs, and eventually is dragged into this tug of war with a gangster in New Orleans, trying to stay out of trouble and perform as a singer while also getting involved in a rough situation. You can very clearly see a lot of story elements and characterization that would fit in a movie like Rebel Without A Cause which came out 3 years before this. But Elvis Presley shows he can act and of course you get plenty of singing from him but you can see he nails this character. He's got a temper, he doesn't want to be like his dad, he's got the charm and personality that could get him in trouble, and you can read quite a bit in his face. He does really good work. Now I know I could question how romance works in this movie, but hey it was the 50s and in a romance kind of movie all it would take is 5 minutes one on one with a lady for both of you to be head over heels in love. That being said I dare say the best character is Ronnie played by always striking and gorgeous Carolyn Jones, I mean my God this character is just put through the ringer and she can convey just how mistreated, broken, tired, and longing for love this woman is. It's quite remarkable really how she just captures it all and makes you want the best for her so easily. Walter Matthau is a diiiiiick in this movie, full blown asshole, I haven't seen him in many antagonistic roles so I was impressed. The drama is prevalent throughout, with dashes of music and I can honestly say this movie is an easier sell than most musicals. Sure I have faith in Elvis Presley's acting talents, but the man was built to sing and that's what you want, it's more folk music with some blues zest rather than his typical rock and roll stuff but you better believe I got the happy feet and was having a good time with it. That ending though, Jesus Christ was that a downer. I was genuinely upset I won't lie, but that's the telltale sign of being invested in a movie. I wanted to know what was gonna happen, will these characters get a happy ending, you feel the emotion and get the characters so the movie works very very well. Shot in pristine black and white with good sets, nice lighting, it even dips it's pinky toe in some experimental shots for one bit. The editing is a bit weird at a few instances but that's truthfully the only bad thing I can say about it. If ever you were curious about Elvis' acting roles this would be the prime example. I give it 4 stars, 8/10, and next time we'll be getting nothing but raw talent and music galore with the Comeback Special.