-- Brett Stillo
Hollywood was starting to show its age in 1958. The Old Guard, who’d turned the town into an assembly line of fantasy and illusion in the '30s and '40s, were slowing down. Staring at them right in their faces, was the future: teenagers, Rock n' Roll, and the financial reality of the Saturday night double feature at the Drive-In.
King Creole, which was released in July of that year, straddles the line, one foot planted in old school Hollywood genre storytelling of Film Noir, the other sliding towards the juvenile market of the Rock n' Roll film. The film’s storyline is firmly planted in the former: a guy with a troubled past is just looking to get a break, but fate pulls him into a raw deal that sets him up to take a big fall. However, this particular fall guy is a sneering, hip-shaking teenager, swinging to a rockin’ beat in double-four time. And oh yes, the actor playing said fall guy happens to be one Elvis Aaron Presley.
Presley was a singer who dreamed of being an actor. He idolized Brando and Dean, and King Creole was his chance to show his dramatic potential on the screen. In King Creole, Presley plays Danny Fisher, a streetwise kid living in the French Quarter of New Orleans, trying to support his down-and-out family by working in a tough joint run by notorious gangster, Maxie Fields (played with brutish charm by a seething Walter Matthau).