In 1937, Michael Curtiz teamed with Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Bette Davis to make “Kid Galahad,” the story of a rising boxer and a crooked manager who sets up a fixed championship fight. In 1962, Elvis Presley tied on the gloves for the remake.
In the Presley movie, he plays Walter Gulick, just out of the Army who returns to his hometown. Taking any work available, he quickly becomes popular with everyone at the training camp. Pretty soon, he’s put in the ring to help train a boxer. However, Gulick knocks the guy out cold. Gulick is nicknamed “Kid Galahad” by manager Willy Grogan (Gig Young,) and trainer Lew Nyack (Charles Bronson.) Galahad falls for his manager’s sister and they want to walk off into the sunset, however Grogan has arraigned a championship for Galahad where he Grogan has agreed to have Galahad throw the fight. Unbeknownst to the town, they put all their money on Galahad. Will Grogan have a change of heart and do the right thing? Will Grogan’s wife come back to him despite his gambling addiction and alcoholism?
What’s most interesting about “Kid Galahad” is how little the plot actually relies on Elvis. Gig Young and Charles Bronson do the heavy lifting, each having their own dramatic scene to shine. And it is this fact that makes Elvis good in this movie. There’s nothing for him to do other than to take a few swings at guys and to sing a few songs to the girls.
The music, (every Elvis character has a hyphenate. In this case, he’s a boxer/singer,) isn’t that great, though the opening, “King of the Whole Wide World,” and “I Got Lucky,” are the standouts. However, the other music doesn’t fare so well and it pretty forgettable.
The technical side of the movie is utterly forgettable with the on-location shooting presented in a way that you would be forgiven for thinking that the entire movie was shot on a sound stage.
Despite these faults and because of the little acting work that is required of Elvis, “Kid Galahad,” turns out to be a quality Elvis movie. It’s not great, but certainly stands above much of his other film work. If you’re a fan of the King, you could do much, much worse. -Sam