Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Jailhouse Rock (1957)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Jailhouse Rock (1957)

In director Richard Thorpe's prison-related, rags-to-riches musical-drama (and parable of a downfall), it was arguably Elvis Presley's best film (his third feature) - Elvis' 'singing rebel' character in the mid-50s was MGM's answer to previous teen idol James Dean, who died in 1955:

  • the opening bar sequence of 19 year-old construction worker and quick-tempered, mean-spirited bad boy Vince Everett (Elvis Presley), when he became involved in a volatile confrontation with a belligerent drunk/pimp (?) (John Daheim) (after his barfly companion cozied up to Vince); he was taunted with the man's insult: "Why don't you run along, sonny, before I muss up your hair?" and had a drink poured on him; Vince entered into a brutal fist-fight and accidentally killed the man ("Somebody call a doctor, this guy's hurt bad"); charges of manslaughter led to a one to ten-year prison sentence
  • the tutelage of Vince's long-timer cellmate in prison (Cellblock 21), Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), a washed-up, ex-country western singer serving time for armed robbery, who engaged in black market dealings using cigarettes as "the coin of the realm"
  • Vince's strumming on Hunk's guitar, revealing his hidden musical talent, and Hunk's clever ploy to get Vince to sign a 50/50 contract for future earnings
  • the scenes to exhibit Vince's bare-chest: (1) shoveling of coal in the work yard, and (2) his mess hall food fight brawl that led to a bare-backed whipping - and Hunk's words of advice to Vince: "I'm an animal in a jungle and I got a motto: 'Do unto others as they would do unto you, only do it first'"
Vince's Bare Chest
  • Vince's first attempt (after his release from prison after 14 months and on parole), to play his guitar and prove to Hunk's friend, Club La Florita owner Sam Brewster (Percy Helton), that he could sing on stage ('Young and Beautiful') rather than be a bus boy; however, during his impromptu, unauthorized singing of 'Young and Beautiful,' he became hot-headed, frustrated and smashed his guitar (recently bought at a pawn shop) on the table of two dinner guests who ignored his performance and rudely heckled him
  • his on-again, off-again romance with independent-minded talent agent/love interest Peggy Van Alden (Judy Tyler) whom he met at Club La Florita; after an awkward visit to her socialite parent's home when he insulted them (due to a misunderstanding), she angrily told him outdoors on the sidewalk: "I think I'm gonna just hate you"; he disagreed: "Uh-uh, You ain't gonna hate me. I ain't gonna let you hate me"; he impulsively kissed her - and she complained: "How dare you think such cheap tactics would work with me!" - he kissed her again and responded: "That ain't tactics, honey. It's just the beast in me"
  • Vince and Peggy's discovery in a music shop listening booth after buying six records, that his song 'Don't Leave Me Now' had been stolen by the Geneva Record Company, and recorded (in his own distinctive singing style) by its star singer Mickey Alba: "That lousy thief. He stole my style, my arrangement, my everything"; Peggy gave Vince the bad news about his own original recording: "You can forget it. It's gone"
  • in the next scene, Vince slapped the Geneva Record Company manager across the face - the one who had pretended earlier to not like his recording or arrangement: "You're a thievin' rat!...Don't 'sonny' me, you louse! Crawl back under your rock, you snake!"
  • during his rise to stardom and formation of his own record label (Laurel Records with Peggy), Vince's studio recording of 'Treat Me Nice', and his pool-side performance of 'You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)' - with some hip-swiveling action
  • ex-convict Vince Everett's introductory prologue, delivered to the NBC-TV cameras, about his life in prison where he had first started singing 'Jailhouse Rock': ("Ladies and gentlemen, a little while back, I had a kind of a vacation with a bunch of men in a big place way out yonder. And while I was there, well, these uh, these men, kind of guests, you might say, uh, we'd get together and horse around a little bit and sing and - 'cause we were havin' such a good time. And uh, we always had a lot of fun with this one: 'The Jailhouse Rock'")
"Jailhouse Rock" Production Number - A Music Video Prototype
  • the great production number 'Jailhouse Rock' by hip-swiveling, arrogant ex-prison convict/rocker Vince while singing: "C'mon everybody, let's rock" - and one portion of the lyrics with homoerotic overtones: "...Number 47 said to Number 3, you're the cutest jailbird I ever did see. I sure would be delighted with your company, come on and do the jailhouse rock with me"
  • his stint as a motion-picture actor and singer in Hollywood with Climax Studios, and his uncomfortable day with stuck-up starlet Sherry Wilson (Jennifer Holden) for publicity purposes; however, when he convincingly kissed her on a couch during the rehearsal of a love scene, the frustrated film director tried to interrupt the egotistical Vince: "No Vince, let's try it again. Vince!"; earlier, the disinterested Sherry had complained about it being the very first scene to be shot: "I wanted to sort of work myself up to it. Making love to that rube won't be easy"; but after the kiss, he asked: "How's your headache?" and she purred lovingly: "I'm coming all unglued"
  • Vince's mercenary proposal to sell off Laurel Records to Geneva Records after their generous offer of money - thereby detaching himself more and more from Peggy and Hunk; to humble Vince ("I'm gonna beat hell out of you...You know you got it comin', son"), Hunk battled with Vince and caused serious injury with a blow to Vince's larynx and voice-box, when Vince held back from defending himself
  • in the happy ending after a period of recuperation from a tracheotomy, Vince delivered a sweet rendition (a reprise) of the ballad 'Young and Beautiful' with a reconciled Peggy next to him as his true love, proving reassuringly that he could still sing

Lethal Bar Fight

Cellmate Hunk

Vince Playing Hunk's Guitar

Smashing His Guitar in Dinner Club

Romance with Peggy - "It's just the beast in me"

Shocking Discovery in Music Shop Listening Booth

Vince's Threat Against Geneva Record Co. Manager

Poolside: "Baby I Don't Care"

Uncomfortable Acting with Starlet

Reconciled with Peggy: "Young and Beautiful"


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