If you’re following this blog, you know that the last Elvis number one was “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” which was from his first color movie, Loving You. His next movie was Jailhouse Rock and, of course, it was also in color as were all movies by this time. The title song “Jailhouse Rock” was Elvis’ ninth number one song.
The writing team of Leiber and Stoller had written “Loving You” and Elvis liked them so much that he hired them to write six songs for his next movie.
I love this story: Leiber and Stoller were brought to New York to write the music for Jailhouse Rock. I assume they had not been there before, so they decided to see the sights. They got so wrapped up in the splendor that is New York City that they forgot all about the music. The day came when they were to meet with the producers of the movie and they hadn’t written a note. The producers, understandably unhappy with them, locked them in a hotel room and wouldn’t let them out until they produced the music.
I think the movie is a cut above Loving You, but it essentially follows the same pattern. Elvis plays a man who is sent to jail for accidentally killing another man. During his incarceration, he learns to sing and actually does a number from jail that is broadcast on television. Fan mail results and when he gets out, he eventually becomes a singing star and wins the girl.
The iconic “Jailhouse Rock” number which almost anyone who is an Elvis fan has seen, is said to be his best scene on film of all his movies. The flip side, also an Elvis classic was “Treat Me Nice” which peaked at number 18. Other songs from the movie are well known to Elvis fans. He sings “Young and Beautiful” in a nightclub where he is working as a busboy. When a patron is disrespectful during the song, Elvis breaks the guitar and leaves the club in a huff. Another Leiber/Stoller song that was done in the movie is “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care” which never charted but is a familiar Elvis Presley song.
The movie cost $400,000 to make and grossed over $4 million in sales coming in at number 14 for the year. Today that would equal about $33 million, which would not be called a big hit. But, it did make money and Elvis would continue to make movies.
“Jailhouse Rock” entered the pop chart on October 21, 1957 and stayed at the top for seven weeks.
This video is taken right from the movie. Watch the way Elvis moves, but also watch the other “prisoners.” That’s just as fun.
Next: “Chances Are” – Johnny Mathis