Jailhouse Rock * November 1957
Hi everyone! Here we are again, heading into Elvis week, 2012. And, you know there are lots of events going on just to commemorate the life of this Rock N Roll 'King'! If you can get to Memphis, you will be part of a great celebration all over town...you'll be dancing in the streets, visiting various vendors with their displays of Elvis memorabilia, and, eating some fine southern foods!
I'm sure you noticed the picture above. There he is showing his stuff in his movie "Jailhouse Rock". This movie went public in November of 1957 to a social pounding of mixed reactions. However, the movie fared very well at the box office-afterall, it was Elvis, wasn't it? The film was cut on a budget of $400,000.00, and grossed, well, add a few more zeros...$4,000,000.00 On the downside, some of the negative criticisms were: "This is a 'blown-up tale', with cheap, human values." Then we have, "Elvis' performance was dangerously near being repulsive." Funny, I didn't notice that, haha!
As for 'kudos', Elvis' performance was praised-"He proved himself as a dramatic actor." One publication stated that, "Elvis displays himself as an actor, top singer and dancer, making this film his first big dramatic role!" One author wrote that the film contained the perfect balance of song and story, capturing Elvis' raw, sexy energy, and 'sneering' charisma on film! Elvis' costars and the choreography were also praised.
* I still love to watch this movie! *
The song, 'Jailhouse Rock', was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, September 24, 1957 for this movie. In the US, Jailhouse Rock reigned #1 for seven weeks, and in 1958, the song peaked at #1 in the UK for three weeks. It reached the #2 spot on the R & B charts, and was even at the top of the Country charts. This song was a HUGE contribution to our rock and roll era!
And, how about that prison uniform? I thought it was just designed for the movie...nah! That style of prison attire has been around for quite some time. Sometimes we watch Perry Mason and Dragnet from the 1950's and 1960's, and I've noticed that inmates are dressed very similar to Elvis in Jailhouse Rock. It seems as though in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the striped prison uniform was phasing itself out. It was thought that if prisoners were able to dress with a little more normality, they could be rehabilitated with more success. The old, nasty, striped uniforms were used as a measure of punishment, a badge of shame, if you will. Blue jeans and chambray work shirts eventually became significant in suggesting fair treatment toward the non-violent offenders in hopes that they would be able to return to society with improved attitudes. Does that work? I would like to believe so. But, what about escapees? The striped uniforms served as immediate flags to identify prisoners who escaped, whereas, blue jeans and chambray might lead us to think they're just 'law abiding' citizens! But, of course, now we have the colored jumpsuits-are there certain colors for specific offenses, or, are they color coded according to state, county, or cell block?
Oh well, I'll let the prison system handle all of that!
Elvis, just so you don't feel singled out in your jailhouse attire, I've invited some of my favorite 'jailbirds' by to model their jailhouse duds!
I miss you 'E'!
David Janssen * 'The Fugitive' * 1963
Burt Lancaster and Karl Malden * Birdman of Alcatraz * 1962
Susan Hayward * 'I Want To Live' * 1958
Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman * 'Papillon' * 1973
Sean Connery * 'The Rock' * 1996
Paul Newman * 'Cool Hand Luke' * 1967
Johnny Depp * 'Cry-Baby' * 1990
Wow...a cagey group to be sure! Do I like prison movies or what? What is it about a man/or woman in uniform that strikes our fancy? Well, a prison uniform certainly doesn't suggest authority, does it?
Seriously, sometime this week, please take a moment to remember Elvis and the driving force behind him that got us off our seats, and sent us careening onto the floor. Haven't most of us, even you ladies, tried to sing and dance like Elvis at sometime in our life? Ed Sullivan liked Elvis...so did my parents! And, believe it or not, we've passed his legacy down thru the decades to our children and theirs. He still has that certain charisma, that makes us stop, look, listen, and, even try to curl our upper lip!
Thank you all for coming by...you're the greatest! Stop by anytime, everyone is welcome. And don't be shy about saying hello...sometimes communication with others (even on a whim), is the best medicine! Tell you what...it makes my day!♥
I'm greatly obliged to the following sources:
Elvis A. Presley
~ January 8, 1938 ~ August 16, 1977
"If I stand still while I'm singing, I'm a dead man."
And, in loving memory of Karo's father, my father-in-law
Benjamin W. Trammell
February 22, 1921 * August 16, 1995