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:

  • in the film's opening bar sequence, 19 year-old construction worker and quick-tempered, mean-spirited bad boy Vince Everett (Elvis Presley) 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
  • in prison (Cellblock 21), Vince received the tutelage of his long-timer cellmate 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 strummed on Hunk's guitar, revealing his hidden musical talent; Hunk decided to cleverly take advantage of Vince by having him sign a 50/50 contract for future earnings after their release
  • some of the scenes in prison were designed to exhibit Vince's bare-chest: (1) he shoveled coal in the work yard, and (2) after a mess hall food fight brawl, Vince was whipped bare-backed - Hunk offered 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 in Prison
  • after his release from prison after 14 months, ex-con parolee Vince made his first attempt to play his guitar and prove to Hunk's nightclub friend Sam Brewster (Percy Helton), owner of Club La Florita, 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,' Vince became highly aggravated by two dinner guests in the audience who ignored his performance and rudely heckled him; the hot-headed, frustrated Vince smashed his guitar (recently bought at a pawn shop) on the customers' table before being thrown out
  • Vince became involved in an on-again, off-again romance with independent-minded talent agent/love interest Peggy Van Alden (Judy Tyler) whom he met at Club La Florita; she was a promoter for another pop singer named Mickey Alba; after an awkward visit to Peggy's 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"
  • in a music shop listening booth, Vince and Peggy discovered - 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 - it was irretrievably stolen: "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!"
  • after being ripped off by Alba, Vince decided to form his own record label known as Laurel Records, and he hired attorney Mr. Shores (Vaughn Taylor) to handle the finances
  • during his rise to stardom and formation of his own record label (Laurel Records with Peggy), Vince made a studio recording of 'Treat Me Nice', and performed pool-side: 'You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)' - with some hip-swiveling action; he soon became an overnight sensation with DJ Teddy Talbot's (Dean Jones) promotion of his recording of "Treat Me Nice"
  • ex-convict Vince Everett was invited to appear in New York on a nationwide NBC-TV variety show to sing his headlining song: "Jailhouse Rock" set in a stylized jail cell; he delivered an introductory prologue 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' included hip-swiveling, arrogant ex-prison convict/rocker Vince singing: "C'mon everybody, let's rock" - and one portion of the lyrics included 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"
  • Vince reconciled with his former cellmate Hunk, and although their prison contract was deemed worthless, Vince promised to provide Hunk with a fee of 10% of his earnings. After being seduced by the decadent lifestyle of a pop star, however, Vince became rebellious, self-centered, and unwilling to work with Hunk or Peggy, his loyal and pretty girlfriend/talent scout/record promoter
  • Vince also had a short stint as a motion-picture actor and singer in Hollywood with Climax Studios; he spent an 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"; he soon fell in love with her
  • the mercenary, egotistical Vince considered an offer from Geneva Records to purchase Laurel Records, although Peggy advised him to not sell - he thereby detached himself more and more from Peggy and Hunk; during an altercation with Hunk who was defending Peggy, 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; Vince temporarily lost his singing voice - endangering his singing career.
  • during his hospitalization and recovery, Vince set his priorities straight; in the happy ending after a period of recuperation from a tracheotomy, Vince (with his healed voice) 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

Opening Lethal Bar Fight

Vince's Cellmate Hunk

Vince Playing Hunk's Guitar in Cell

Vince Smashing His Guitar in Dinner Club at Heckling Customers

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

Shocking Discovery with Peggy in Music Shop Listening Booth

Vince's Threat Against Geneva Record Co. Manager for Stealing His Recording of "Don't Leave Me Now"

Poolside - Vince's Performance of: "Baby I Don't Care"

Vince's Uncomfortable Acting with Hollywood Starlet Sherry Wilson (Jennifer Holden)

Reconciled with Peggy: "Young and Beautiful"


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z