Frankie and Johnny is Elvis all the way in a story built loosely around the classic folk song, coupled with a dozen or so tunes, pretty girls and Technicolor.
The screenplay from a Nat Perrin story has Elvis and Donna Douglas (in her first major film role) as entertainers on a Mississippi riverboat about 100 years ago. Elvis is Frankie, Donna is Johnny, and, like in the ageless song, they love each other. But Frankie gambles too much, losing all the time, until he finds a lucky redhead – Nellie Bly, natch – played by Nancy Kovack.
Elvis is Elvis. He sings and acts, apparently doing both with only slight effort. Presley does little hip swinging, no doubt in keeping with the period of the story, although he does get a chance to bounce out one number – ‘Shout It Out’ – with Dixieland accompaniment.