King Creole

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Drama;
$29.99 Blu-ray:
Not rated.
Stars Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones,Walter Matthau, Dolores Hart, Dean Jagger.  

Well known to even cursory fans as Elvis Presley’s fourth and final film before Uncle Sam got him — and also, in the opinion of many, his best film — 1958’s King Creole was, like three of his four pre-army screen outings, shot in black-and-white. But there was nothing stingy about the production, and the New Orleans locales that producer Hal Wallis sprung for add immeasurably to the ambience right from the opening, synching beautifully with the studio-shot material that makes up the bulk of the drama. A lot of writers claim that KC is in VistaVision as you’d expect a Paramount realease of that time to be, but neither posters nor the on-screen credits say this, nor does it look like VistaVision to my eyes. It does, though, boast a first-rate cinematographer, Russell Harlan (Red River and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of many shot by him).

One of several seemingly endless projects intended for James Dean and taken over by other actors upon his death, Elvis’s character was changed to a busboy-turned-nightclub-singer caught between competing owners and two very different women. Of the latter, Carolyn Jones — heavily into that “kookie” phase that defined her entire career — is a bag of neuroses as mistress to the drunken nasty one of the two club rivals (Walter Matthau in one of the best of his early movie roles). The other woman is a dreamboat “nice girl” played by Dolores Hart, still my absolute favorite of that era’s newcomers, lover of porcelain beauty that I am. Working the counter at a local five-and-dime, she seems surprisingly OK with wanting to date Elvis, even though she’s the one employee who picks up on the fact that his singing-troubadour stroll through the store for the customer’s enjoyment is in reality an planned distraction so that his so-called colleagues ran rifle the joint.

Ahhhhhh, Sister Dolores, who is what Hart became after leaving Hollywood to become a nun in the early ’60s, but that’s for another time. Other than to note that this was the second time she’d performed heart-melting labors in an Elvis pic, following the previous year’s Loving You (which, by the way, is in VistaVision and badly needs a restoration.)

Elvis has, as they used to say, “fallen in with a bad lot” — partly in response to his proclivity for being forbidden from graduating from high school (this time, he pops a guy on school grounds before the very last day of classes). And partly in response to the lifelong wimp-dom of his pharmacist father (Dean Jagger), which was exacerbated by the death of the Elvis character’s mother, which led to the loss of the old man’s pharmacy and his worsening life reality of taking the worst kind of guff from everyone. (Including his new boss, something that Elvis covertly witnesses. This is after dad preaches unyielding adherence to the idea of graduation from school in lieu of the much bigger bucks his son can make headlining as a singer. Elvis sees how far that got him.

Of course, he’s hardly a headliner right off the bat and has to take patronizing guff himself of the kind busboys sometimes endure — until, in standard showbiz movie fashion, Matthau tries to humiliate him by asking him to sing for the customers, whereupon he’s a smash. At this point, what has been a straight drama becomes a drama with lots of music — too much for my taste, given that the score has its share of clunkers. Oddly, the tune that RCA Victor elected to release as an RCA Victor single — “Hard Headed Woman” (b/w “Don’t Leave Me Now”) is totally thrown away, though it went to No. 1, as did the soundtrack LP. Of course, this isn’t to say that winners don’t abound as well, including the title tune, also “Trouble” (which he reprised to kick off his 1968 comeback TV special), and “As Long As I Have You,” one his best ballads ever, which contributes to one of the most emotionally satisfying movie wrap-ups I know.

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Man, no wonder this is Elvis’ longest picture because his sister is falling for Matthau’s owner rival (Paul Stewart) despite a 20-year age difference (I love it that no one in those days, morals police or otherwise, gave a damn). To say nothing of mistress Jones going off the rails increasingly by minute, Matthau now trying to pimp her out, a needless production number by Liliane Montevecci, whose big-screen appeal I never got, and Elvis’s punk buddies (led by a very young-looking Vic Morrow) back in the alley with weaponized broken bottles trying to reengage him in crime. Maybe this is an argument for staying in school, but the money is suddenly good.

Directing this is veteran onetime superstar Michael Curtiz, whose career kind of fell apart after the collapse of the studio system, but he did manage White Christmas, this semi-ringer and my very soft spot for swan song The Comancheros, but by that time Curtiz was dying, and star John Wayne reportedly took over as director. Elvis responded with enthusiasm to having a name filmmaker, and both the star’s smirkily amused reactions to Jones’s machinations and reciprocated affection are credible. As natural as Elvis’s raw talent was, I doubt if frequent director and career-long albatross Norman Taurog could have gotten nearly as much out of him.

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For the launch of “Paramount Presents,” its sparse so-called Blu-ray “line,” Paramount has employed my old bud Leonard Maltin to give about a seven-minute overview — a pro job, obviously, but hardly an example of hoopla. He opines himself that this is Elvis’ best movie, but by a sliver-and-a-half, I think I’ll go with the second movie he made back from the army (Don Siegel’s Flaming Star), which was a commercial flop but tighter.

King Creole was Elvis’s only predominantly serious drama to catch on and sent him off to the army with great screen promise that Colonel Parker ultimately wouldn’t let him fulfill upon his return.

Paramount Presenting Online Screenings of Classic Catalog With Guest Hosts

Paramount is presenting a series of virtual screenings that will be streamed online at CYA.LIVE, allowing viewers to watch and interact via text and video with other fans, as well as special guest hosts, for $1.99 per screening.

The first event will be a 25th anniversary screening of the Chris Farley comedy Tommy Boy hosted by the film’s director, Peter Segal (Get Smart50 First DatesNaked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult). The event will take place April 18 at 5 p.m. PST.

At the same time April 25, Paramount will screen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan along with the hosts of the “Inglorious Treksperts” podcast, Mark A. Altman and Daren Dochterman. Altman is a television and motion picture writer/producer/director, as well as the author of the book The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Oral History of Star Trek. Dochterman has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years and has more than 80 film and television credits. He is known for his work as visual effects supervisor on the director’s edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

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The third event will feature a screening of director Blake Edwards’ classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s May 2 at 5 p.m. PST, just two days prior to Audrey Hepburn’s birthday on May 4. The screening will be hosted by Andrea Kalas, the head of the Paramount Pictures Archives.

FandangoNow Bows Clip, Activity Sheets for ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Debut; ‘Invisible Man’ Again Top Title

FandangoNow, movie ticketing site Fandango’s transactional VOD service, is offering an 8-minute clip and family activity sheets for the debut of Paramount Home Entertainment’s Sonic the Hedgehog on the service.

Sonic the Hedgehog hit digital early March 31 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are exclusively debuting the first eight minutes of the movie right here. See where Sonic comes from, and how he wound up on Earth to begin with,” reads the FandangoNow blog.

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The activity sheets include word scrambles, coloring sheets and connect the dots.

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Meanwhile, for the second-consecutive week The Invisible Man (also an early digital release) was the top title for the service.

FandangoNow’s top titles (transactional sales and rentals) for the week ended March 29 were:

  1. THE INVISIBLE MAN
  2. PIXAR’S ONWARD
  3. BLOODSHOT
  4. BIRDS OF PREY
  5. JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
  6. 1917
  7. I STILL BELIEVE
  8. THE WAY BACK
  9. DOLITTLE
  10. THE HUNT

Special Offer From ‘Media Play News’ and Paramount: Digital Codes to Blockbuster ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’

Paramount Home Entertainment and Media Play News are offering 10 readers free digital codes to the more than $300 million global box office blockbuster Sonic the Hedgehog, which is being released digitally today, March 31.

The codes will be given to the first 10 people who 1) like us on Instagram, and 2) go to the Sonic the Hedgehog post on our Instagram account and in the comments answer the question, “How many tails does Sonic’s best friend have?”

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.

Honoring Eddie — and Hollywood

Eddie Cunningham, in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, speaks softly and carries a big stick.

Honored with Media Play News’ third annual Fast Toward Award, Cunningham is the consummate gentleman, both inside and outside of the workplace. Without exception, his employees say he’s a remarkable boss, even-tempered and empowering, encouraging them to do their best and making them want to do their best.

He’s instilled in them a belief that what they do each day in the office truly matters, that they are an essential cog in the wheel, so to speak. Leading by example, you get the feeling that Eddie Cunningham truly loves our industry as well as his company, and that loyalty and reliability are two of his most important traits.

The last time we met for lunch, at the Grill on the Universal Studios lot, he brought a bag of toys for my year-old granddaughter.

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A while back, at CES, we happened to share an elevator. Eddie Cunningham was the last person out, holding the door for nearly a dozen other people.

Now that he’s been tapped to lead a joint venture between Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. that, pending regulatory approval, will market and distribute Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and 4K Ultra HD discs in the United States and Canada from both studios, beginning in early 2021, Cunningham also is leading the charge to ensure the continued viability, and profitability, of the physical disc.

It’s a big opportunity, and a big challenge, as well. Disc sales have been declining, and with the whole world so enamored with streaming, we as an industry need to do what we can to prop up the transactional business – which despite impressive growth rates on the digital side remains tethered to physical media.

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As Cunningham says in this month’s feature, “Discs, alongside electronic sellthrough, are usually the first opportunity to own a film after its run in theaters, with the movie often not being available on SVOD for years. [And] if you want the highest quality picture and sound, disc is still the best way to get that in the home.”

The physical disc is not only the primary into-the-home distribution mechanism for new movies fresh off their theatrical runs. It also remains the best way to preserve, honor and capitalize on Hollywood’s rich cinematic history.

The proliferating streaming services are so focused on original content that older films are hard to find. The theatrical catalog titles we used to enjoy, and which formed the basis for DVD collecting two decades ago, are pretty much out of everyone’s consciousness.

I know from my own experience that whereas in the past I would regularly watch an old classic or two each week, for the last few years I have been so consumed by Netflix series such as “Ozark,” “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” that I didn’t have time for much more than the latest theatrical hit.

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Only since my holiday from streaming began last December have I been watching old movies again on Blu-ray Disc.

That’s why I applaud Paramount Home Entertainment’s launch of a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library. As division president Bob Buchi said, “Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history. We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans.”

 

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Racing to Digital Early March 31, Debuting on Disc May 19

Sonic the Hedgehog will debut early for digital purchase March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand May 19.

The family film based on the video game character follows the incredibly speedy Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, who embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). It’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the plane.

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Bonus features on digital, 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray combo pack include commentary by director Jeff Fowler and Schwartz; “Around the World in 80 Seconds,” Sonic’s next adventure; deleted scenes; bloopers; the “Speed Me Up” music video; “For the Love of Sonic,” in which Carrey and the cast discuss what Sonic the Hedgehog means to them; “Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey”; “The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic”; and “Sonic On Set,” a set visit with Schwartz.

The 4K Ultra HD Digital and 4K Ultra HD disc releases present the film in Dolby Vision with a Dolby Atmos sound.

 

‘Friday the 13th’ 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Coming From Paramount

A 40th Anniversary Blu-ray steelbook of Friday the 13th will come out June 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally hitting screens May 9, 1980, Friday the 13th spawned one of the longest-running and most successful horror franchises in film history, with 11 subsequent movies.

The horror classic follows a group of young counselors preparing for the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake, where a boy drowned years earlier.  One by one, the counselors are stalked by a mysterious and violent killer.  The film stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and Kevin Bacon.

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The limited-edition Blu-ray steelbook features artwork from the original movie poster and includes the uncut, unrated version of the film, as well as access to a digital copy of the original theatrical version. It also includes previously released bonus content including commentary, interviews with cast and crew, and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Update (4/20/20): The original street date of May 5 was changed to June 16 by Paramount.

Comedy ‘Like a Boss’ Due on Digital April 7, Disc April 21

The comedy Like a Boss will come out on digital April 7 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand April 21 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, best friends Mia and Mel (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are living their best lives, running their own cosmetics company until a villainous beauty mogul (Salma Hayek) conspires to steal it. When her devious plan drives the besties apart, Mia and Mel learn that sticking together is the only way to turn the tables and take their company back.

The film also stars Jennifer Coolidge and Billy Porter.

Bonus features on Blu-ray combo pack and digital (depending on retailer) include the featurettes “With Coworkers Like These, Who Needs Friends?” and “’Get Some’ with Ron and Greg and deleted scenes.

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The DVD includes the feature film in standard-definition.

‘Paramount Presents’ Label Launches to Celebrate Studio Library on Blu-ray, in Theaters

Paramount Pictures will introduce a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library on Blu-ray and in theaters.

The “Paramount Presents” banner will be used for a new line of Blu-ray Discs “incorporating a curated selection of enduringly popular movies, as well as films that had a cultural impact upon their release,” according to a Paramount press release. The label will also be used to bring classic films to select theaters for limited theatrical runs so audiences can experience them again on the big screen.

“Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history,” Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans under the new ‘Paramount Presents’ banner, both in theaters and in our new Blu-ray collection, which has been crafted to offer something special to casual fans, dedicated film enthusiasts and collectors.”

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray Discs will include a diverse and eclectic array of films spanning all genres, according to the studio. The new collection will return each title to the spotlight with meticulously remastered releases that include new bonus content focused on the filmmakers. The discs will be presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the original movie poster and interior artwork featuring key movie moments. Each Blu-ray in the line will feature new interviews with filmmakers and/or film historian Leonard Maltin.

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“Movies have the power to hold a mirror up to the world. Sometimes they make us think about big issues and sometimes they simply reflect the times in which they were made,” said Maltin in a statement. “The ‘Paramount Presents’ banner encompasses a wide array of films that are worth revisiting because they captured something unique that resonated with audiences. Whether you’re watching them for the first time or the hundredth, you will see why these films have stood the test of time.”

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The first three films in the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line will be Fatal Attraction, which has been remastered under the supervision of director Adrian Lyne; 1958’s acclaimed Elvis Presley drama King Creole; and director Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch A Thief, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. All three titles will be available beginning April 21. Fatal Attraction will also have a limited theatrical release in 2020 (details to be announced at a later date).

Additional titles scheduled to be released as part of the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line include newly remastered editions of FlashdanceAirplane! and Ghost, as well as several titles arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever, including Pretty in Pink and The Golden Child.

Season 11 of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Swimming to DVD March 31

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Eleventh Season will arrive on DVD March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment.

In the season, viewers enter DoodleBob’s alternate dimension, take a trip to Bubble Buddy’s hometown, take a trip to the moon, solve the curious case of the missing clarinet and hear Gary speak for the very first time. Also, they see SpongeBob keep Fred’s leg out of harm’s way, move Bubble Bass out of his mom’s basement, and stop SpongeGar from wreaking havoc all over town. The season includes new characters, such as an imaginary hamster, a sea bunny, the Krusty Krab’s peculiar night crew and Sandy’s nutty nieces.

The 3-DVD set features every episode from Season 11, plus Plankton’s Color Nullifier.

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