Elvis Presley delivers one of his finest early performances in King Creole. Elvis plays a teenager named Danny Fisher, who is forced to drop out of school to help support his ineffective father (Dean Jagger). Drawn to trouble like a magnet, Danny is saved from a jail term by New Orleans salloonkeeper Charlie Le Grand (Paul Stewart), who gives the boy a job as a singer. It isn't long, however, before local gang boss Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau), a shadowy figure from Danny's criminal past, puts the muscle on the boy, insisting that Danny sing at his establishment. To lure Danny to his side of the fence, Maxie relies upon the seductive charms of his gun moll Ronnie (Carolyn Jones), while Danny's true love Nellie (Dolores Hart) suffers on the sidelines. In addition to the expected musical numbers (which are cleverly integrated into the storyline), the film's highlight is a brief exchange of fisticuffs between Elvis and Walter Matthau. Together with Jailhouse Rock, King Creole is one of the best filmed examples of the untamed, pre-army Elvis Presley. The picture was adapted from Harold Robbins' novel A Stone for Danny Fisher.
by Hal Erickson synopsis