Dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock

Hip-swiveler Elvis Presley was no stranger to Hollywood’s sound stages: He made more than thirty movies during his career, which helped keep his heartthrob status ablaze for a decade and a half, beginning in the late ’50s. Early on, Elvis had to combat criticism from prudish detractors for his oversexed film performances and antihero roles, just as he did in his musical career, and Jailhouse Rock, in which he played a jailbird with a manslaughter rap who bucks bad fortune to become a rock star, was a case in point. Jailhouse features profanity (the use of the word “hell”) and a bedroom scene — pretty racy stuff for 1957 — and rides on the energy of Elvis’s wild musical performances.

The most famous one of those is the title number, choreographed by Alex Romero and played to the hilt in prison couture with a stylized slammer backdrop — a scene replayed over and over again in subsequent tributes to the King. It didn’t hurt, either, that "Jailhouse Rock" the song was penned by hitmakers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, as were three other tunes featured in the film. While it’s generally agreed that Elvis himself was a movie hack, that didn’t matter a whit to the bobby-soxers who mooned over every scene.

See what all the fuss was about — and maybe have a laugh — when Jailhouse Rock screens for free at 11:30 a.m. today at the Aurora Central Library, 14949 East Alameda Drive, as part of its Monday @ the Movies series. And rest assured, this is a family-friendly film — in 2013, at least. For more information, visit auroralibrary.org.
Mon., Aug. 26, 11:30 a.m., 2013

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd