It doesn’t get much more iconic than Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock. In terms of musician’s movies, it’s one of the first and set the bar incredibly high. Few come close. The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night is considered a masterpiece but likely wouldn’t have existed without The King’s crooning in that jail.
His estate shared a still from Jailhouse Rock on The King’s moderated Instagram account. It shows possibly the most iconic scene in the film, where Elvis sings the titular song amidst a Brechtian set of a few jail cell bars. You can see the entire video here.
Jailhouse Rock was Elvis Presley’s second film. The first was Love My Tender, which was released a year earlier in 1956. Both are fully formed films but serve solely to feature Presley’s music.
Jailhouse Rock has a fairly traditional plot. A judge sentences Presley’s character to prison for manslaughter after he’s forced into a bar fight to protect a woman. His cellmate notices Elvis’ talents right away and encourages The King to use them when he is released. After he gets out of jail, he does just that and chases his dreams of becoming a singer.
Queen Drummer: Elvis was Overrated Later in Life
Queen Drummer Roger Taylor told The Express that Elvis Presley’s music after The King got out of the U.S. Army was overrated. He doesn’t deny the influence and power Presley had earlier in his career, like in Jail House Rock, but his later work wasn’t nearly as good.
“I think after Elvis went in the Army, he didn’t influence [Queen] at all. In fact, he became a sort of side paragraph. He didn’t really have a lot of relevance, I thought,” the Queen drummer told the British paper.
Elvis served two years in the military — from 1958 until 1960 — after the U.S. Army drafted him.
“He was a rebel, but when he joined the Army, it all sort of disappeared into sh***y films and paying off his manager’s debts in Las Vegas.”
Other major rock stars have come out and said something similar. The Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney have both said Elvis Presley wasn’t the same after the military.
Lennon said at the time of Elvis’ death that The King died “when he went in the army. That’s when they killed him. The rest of it was just a living death.”
Paul McCartney explained in his 1996 biography that they felt The King had gone “establishment.”
“I always thought [his time in the military] ruined Elvis,” McCartney said.
“We liked Elvis’ freedom as a trucker, as a guy in jeans and swivelin’ hips. But [we] didn’t like him with the short haircut in the army calling everyone ‘sir.’”
All three have said Little Richard, the wild piano-playing, performance virtuosos, was a bigger role in their music.