Jailhouse Rock is widely regarded as Elvis’ finest movie, though it’s also widely accepted that this really isn’t saying much. It hasn’t aged well at all, but while the plot is wafer thin and acting firmly on the hammy side, Presley’s natural charisma just about sees things through. Presley is Vince Everett, a hot tempered Southern guy who accidentally kills a man in a bar brawl and serves time in jail because of it. Inside he is taken under the wing of former Country star Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnesy) who teaches him to play guitar and pushes him to perform at a show for the inmates, which for some reason is also being televised. Vince proves to be a big hit and upon his release he rapidly becomes a big star. However, soon the success goes to his head and he begins to get selfish and greedy and forget about those who helped get him there in the first place.
Now, Elvis is not exactly a great actor, but he proves here that he is certainly capable, injecting Vince with just the right amount of machismo and rebellious spirit. The soundtrack is thoroughly enjoyable, with the legendary title track the definite showpiece, and unlike in many other Elvis movies which followed, the musical interludes feel fairly natural. Elvis’s sex appeal and rock and roll spirit is never better exemplified than by the elaborate song and dance routine that goes along with his performing of the title track and while the film as a whole is far from vintage, that performance will quite rightly go down in cinema lore.