Combustible Celluloid
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With: Elvis Presley, Gig Young, Lola Albright, Joan Blackman, Charles Bronson, David Lewis, Robert Emhardt, Liam Redmond, Judson Pratt, Ned Glass, George Mitchell, Roy Roberts, Michael Dante, Richard Devon, Jeff Morris
Written by: William Fay, based on a story by Francis Wallace
Directed by: Phil Karlson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 95
Date: 08/11/1962

Kid Galahad (1962)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Ringside Singing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Phil Karlson, Charles Bronson, Elvis and boxing... who wouldn't want to see this? Unfortunately, as directed by former B-movie master Karlson, Kid Galahad is a real mixed bag, with some half-baked ideas and some unwanted detours.

To start, Elvis's Walter Gulick isn't even the main character; he's just a genuinely good soul who leaves the army and comes home to his small town birthplace. He wants to become a mechanic, but instead he gets a job as a sparring partner, which leads to a series of big-time fights. He's sweet and good-natured. He meets a nice girl and wants to settle down with her. He doesn't have much in the way of a character arc or conflict.

The main character is actually Willy Grogan (Gig Young), a total sleaze who exploits fighters, gambles, and strings along his girlfriend (Lola Albright). The movie just dies while focused on him; he's so awful that we begin to root against him.

Karlson seems most comfortable in the fight sequences; they're a bit ridiculous, but they have a lot of energy. And Charles Bronson anchors the movie with a gut-level performance as a crusty, but kindly trainer.

Joan Blackman co-stars as Willy's pretty sister; she starts the movie as a tough little broad but turns to mush as soon as Elvis bats his eyes at her. Elvis sings about half-a-dozen songs, including "King of the Whole Wide World" and "I Got Lucky."

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