The film, as it is, should serve as nostalgia for some, and as a bright spot of silliness on the now much bleaker cinema screens.
G.I. Blues (1960)
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The film, as it is, should serve as nostalgia for some, and as a bright spot of silliness on the now much bleaker cinema screens.
Taurog like so many in Hollywood in front of and behind the camera was getting less and less employment and taking what he could get. These were the kind of people that Elvis's manager Colonel Tom Parker made sure helped his meal ticket in any way possible. Norman Taurog won an Oscar in 1931 for Skippy and was nominated for his direction of Boys Town in 1938 which won Spencer Tracy an Oscar. Over the years Taurog directed such musical performers as Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds. This man was most assuredly a help to the King's career and I've no doubt Parker was behind getting him.
Parker is a controversial figure, especially among Elvis's legion of fans as to whether he helped or hindered Elvis's career. He might have done a little of both, but one thing the man was always sure of is that in Presley's movies, he made sure that he got the best support in front and behind the camera. Norman Taurog extended his own career via the King. Everybody made out here.
The Colonel also was a master at keeping the publicity going while Elvis was a $78.00 a month GI serving in Germany. So much so there was a tremendous about of advance publicity about this film which was about a young rock and rolling soldier who finds love in Frankfurt.
Elvis gets hooked into a Guys and Dolls type bet that he can't spend the night in Juliet Prowse's apartment. Prowse is a local entertainer at one of the clubs in Frankfurt and she's got a reputation as one cold lady. But you know she ain't got a chance with the king.
Part of the publicity surrounding this film was Juliet Prowse's relationship with another guy she did a film with that year, Frank Sinatra. She and Sinatra were quite the item and they announced their engagement and then broke it off just as quickly. Juliet was quite the dancer both in GI Blues and in Can-Can. I remember all of this quite well as a lad. And it was always a special treat in Elvis films when he got a female co-star who was also musical like Ann-Margret, Nancy Sinatra, or Juliet Prowse.
Elvis had a bunch of songs in the film including his own Blue Suede Shoes playing on a jukebox during a bar brawl. One song I really liked was Pocketful of Rainbows which he sings to Juliet while riding in a cable car. It should have been a bigger hit for him.
GI Blues was a fine jump start for Elvis's return to the big screen and to his loyal legion of fans.
Still, the version of Elvis that "GI Blues" presented went a step further than just maturity. If it'd been a one-off deal there'd have been no problem -- the problem was that they kept trying to remake the film, as Elvis himself complained. And the problem with THAT, when you come down to it, is that the man was capable of much, much more. Certainly, he was able to act more effectively than we'd see in later properties like "Clambake" and "Double Trouble." The two films that followed this one, the great "Flaming Star" and "Wild In The Country," ably proved that. Then along came the box-office smash "Blue Hawaii," giving Elvis his biggest film receipts since "GI Blues" and cementing to a great extent his Hollywood future. As if the loss of a potentially great and certainly charismatic acting talent weren't enough, the focus on the bottom line led inexorably to weaker and weaker soundtracks. It didn't take long before Elvis was, with a few exceptions, turning out substandard recordings that would eclipse in volume and sales the still-great studio work that he too seldom did during the '60s. As catchy as I find some of these movie songs, and despite the redeeming qualities to be found in many, the sad fact is that most of what he recorded for the movies was far, far below what he was capable of even on a bad day. Take the movies, but leave the man his music. That is the real tragedy of Elvis' movie career, I think, and the reason why we should cringe at the thought of "GI Blues," the movie that started it all.
But I can't do that. I really can't hate such a good-natured film. Even this early in his '60s formula-movie days the music is watered-down to a great extent but most of the songs are still of high quality and some are exceedingly catchy or well done (e.g., the title song, the beautiful "Doin' The Best I Can," "Shoppin' Around," and even the sometimes-maligned "Wooden Heart"). The soundtrack sold like hotcakes -- over two years on the US charts! -- and the movie did huge business. Yes, indeed, Elvis was back! It's not the movie's fault that it became a turning point and one with, ultimately, dire consequences. Elvis' performances is, as befits the material, not as gritty or edgy as that of his previous role (in 1958's classic "King Creole") and this is more a straight musical-comedy of the kind that'd sustained Hollywood for decades. There are a few twists, though, such as the acceptance of one of Elvis' bandmates having fathered a child out of wedlock, and Elvis gets to show off his comic skills to great advantage in several scenes, including those that center upon that baby, 'Tiger.' Actually, it's the scenes with 'Tiger' that I always remembered above all else from when I first saw this movie back in the '70s. I like some of the things that indicate a self-awareness in the movie: Elvis' line at the movie's end, delivered to the camera, is most obvious, but the whole "Blue Suede Shoes" jukebox scenario's pretty funny and Elvis makes two references to "All Shook Up" during the narrative. Elvis does get to flash a couple of looks of anger and even arrogant confidence across his face a couple of times -- he was utterly convincing, just with a look, at portraying such emotions -- but for the most part he's a fairly happy-go-lucky sort in this film. He radiates charm throughout, echoing the sentiments of his "Love Me Tender" costar, Richard Egan: "That boy can charm the birds right out of the trees." Elvis' male and female co-stars all do a competent job throughout, and someone evidently thought enough of Juliet Prowse's long-legged dancing routines to include two of them in the film.
The producers shot scenes while Elvis was still in Germany but used a double for his long-shots. All of the German scenes that we see are either projected behind the principals or are scenes shot on location with other people, while Elvis was still over there finishing his tour of duty. They obviously put a lot of thought into storyboarding the film and getting costumes and everything else sorted out so that location shots would match soundstage scenes. This was not a quick and nasty 'quickie' film -- that would come later, beginning with the filming of "Kissin' Cousins" in 1963.
"GI Blues": it's a nice, entertaining movie, so it does its job. No heavy themes or messages, just the kind of thing that lets you spend a little time in the land of escapist, lightweight, boy-meets-girl stories. It has its place. It's just a pity that its place turned out to be right at the pivot point in the career of the most exceptional vocal and stage performer of the century.
Elvis is thoroughly charming as Tulsa, an American GI stationed in Germany. He takes part in a rather despicable bet as he claims he can "defrost" a sultry dancer (Juliet Prowse). He succeeds in charming her but, to his own surprise, also falls for her.
Well, the story's simple - but it sets the stage for some truly entertaining Presley songs and some knockout dancing by the charming Juliet Prowse who also gives a good performance. The film is energetically made and the usual Presley "possé" is fairly likable here.
There's no denying the fact that the "defrost" bet is very tasteless but Elvis's character sidesteps it quite nicely. Here Elvis plays basically the same character as in his subsequent films; a mischievous lad, wholly independent, with a surprisingly strong moral sense and prone to landing in at least one bar fight. But this is the first light-hearted Presley flick and he looks like he's enjoying himself and the songs really are top notch. "Tonight is so right for love" and "Shopping Around" are among many highlights here and it's very funny to see a guy in a bar pick "Blue Suede Shoes" on the jukebox by some rocker named Elvis Presley (and that lands him in a fight with...well, Elvis).
Although "G.I. Blues" laid the groundwork for some inferior films to come it's a very pleasant film and comes recommended to more than just hardcore Presley fans.
Unfortunately, the musical's trend-setting success overshadowed Presley's superior studio recordings from the time (listen to "Elvis Is Back!"). Also note, the re-recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" is a pale imitation of the 1956 original. So, a creative cancer was being forged. But, it's not fair to fault "G.I. Blues" for the sight and sound of Elvis Presley singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" in "Double Trouble" (1967). And, although everyone (including Presley) longed for him to be a great dramatic actor, he shows up in "G.I. Blues" as a charming and natural light performer. Herein, Presley introduces many of the playful mannerisms used throughout the remainder of his career, in musicals and on stage.
****** G.I. Blues (8/18/60) Norman Taurog ~ Elvis Presley, Juliet Prowse, Robert Ivers, James Douglas
"G.I. Blues" is a silly and naive story, being a pretext to see and hear Elvis Presley only. But I believe every fan of this great singer will appreciate his songs and his chemistry with the charming and sexy Juliet Prowse. This movie certainly is not a masterpiece, but is very enjoyable and a worthwhile entertainment. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Saudades de um Pracinha" ("Missing a G.I.")
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Better than average Elvis vehicle has him playing a G.I. who dreams of one day owning his own nightclub. He makes a bet with some older soldiers that he can take out a dancer (Juliet Prowse) but soon he starts to have feelings for the woman and wants out of the bet. Elvis' comeback film is a pretty good one even though there are still a few weak moments. For the most part the film is charming enough to keep itself going from start to finish even though the thing runs a tad bit too long. Elvis must have been very comfortable in the role of a G.I. because I've never seen him as relaxed in a role. He actually does a pretty good job here and comes off very natural and gets to show off some of his sense of humor. It goes without saying that this film wanted to cash in on The King's military career and for the most part they nail him in the role. The supporting players are equally impressive and add a lot as well. Prowse is very sexy in her role and manages a good performance. The film stealers for me were Robert Ivers and Leticia Roman as the sidekicks. Ivers has a great comic timing and makes for several funny sequences. The music numbers here are all rather hit and miss with none of them what I'd call classic Elvis. I thought the use of Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" was a nice touch as was the sequence with Elvis trying to babysit. The film is certainly lightweight and predictable but it does have enough charm to make it worth watching and I'm sure the girls in 1960 were passing out at the site of Elvis in the shower.
When I counted them off, there were ten tunes performed by Elvis in the story, not counting the one in the shower. That one actually didn't sound very good, but then he got rolling with the title song along with his band members Ricky (James Douglas) and Cookie (Robert Ivers). The story line is loosely built around the idea that Presley's character Tulsa wants to buy a night club back in the States once they muster out.
I can't remember the last time I saw Juliet Prowse, but it has to be on one of those ubiquitous variety shows back in the day. She can really wow 'em when it comes to her dance routines, and it helps that her legs go all the way to there. Prowse joins Presley in a duet on a ski lift doing 'Pocket Full of Rainbows', but it sounded to me like her voice went through a synthesizer.
As for The King himself, he sounded great (except for the shower), and I thought 'Wooden Heart' was done pretty creatively with the puppet routine. But the best was his last number 'Do You Ever Get One of Them Days, Boys?", flexing those Elvis knees that made all the girls go gaga way before there was anyone going by that name. This is a fun flick and should appeal to Elvis fans, with an actual nod to 'Blue Suede Shoes' when a fellow G.I. makes a selection on the juke box.
Like most characters played by Elvis, Tulsa is a keen singer, and his great ambition is to run his own nightclub when he leaves the army. In order to obtain some of the money needed for this venture, he accepts a bet that he can spend the night with a local nightclub dancer named Lili. Lili has a reputation for being "hard to get", but Tulsa, like most characters played by Elvis, turns out to be irresistible to women, and it is not long before romance starts to blossom. There are also subplots about romances involving two of Tulsa's buddies, one (Cookie) with Lili's Italian flatmate Tina and another (Rick) with a local girl named Marla. Rather unusually for a light-hearted musical comedy from this period, Marla is an unmarried mother; when Production Code Hollywood dealt with the subject of unmarried motherhood it generally did so in the context of some deeply serious, moralising movie.
"G.I. Blues" was a success at the box office, but Presley' s film career seemed to be going in a different direction when he followed it up with two more serious films, "Flaming Star" and "Wild in the Country", in both of which he concentrated more on acting and less on music. Neither, however, was as successful at the box office as "G.I. Blues", which in many ways serves as a template for the "pretty girls and pretty scenery" type of musical comedies which were to provide Elvis with his comfort zone during the rest of his cinema career from "Blue Hawaii" onwards. The main difference is that "G.I. Blues", musically speaking, relies rather more on rock music and rather less on than the easy-listening style than do the likes of "Blue Hawaii" and "Frankie and Johnny". (The film's best-known number, however, is "Wooden Heart", derived from a German folksong). Elvis's leading lady here, the glamorous, leggy Juliet Prowse, makes more of an impact than do some of her rather anonymous successors, and her role as a nightclub dancer gives her a chance to show off her own dancing skills.
Interestingly this is one of the few films to play games with the normal convention that, except when making cameo appearances as "themselves", film stars are not referred to in the films in which they appear. While performing in a bar Tulsa discovers a record called "Blue Suede Shoes", sung by one Elvis Presley, on the jukebox. I wonder who he was. Other examples of this sort of game include "His Girl Friday", in which Cary Grant makes a quip about his co-star Ralph Bellamy, and "Ocean's Twelve" in which one character's physical resemblance to Julia Roberts is an important plot point. Roberts, of course, plays the character herself.
The banal plot, underdeveloped characterisation and lack of any great acting performances mean that "G.I. Blues" is unlikely ever to be regarded as a classic of the cinema. As with most Elvis films, the interest lies more in the music than in the characters or storyline. At least the film has more heart and spirit than a number of later Presley movies, such as "Frankie and Johnny" and "Paradise Hawaiian Style", and the star himself is more animated and less wooden than he was to be in some of those offerings. And Prowse is always worth watching, especially while dancing. 5/10
A goof. The German for "Fritz loves Emma" is not, as the scriptwriter obviously believed, "Fritz liebe Emma" but "Fritz liebt Emma". After me, class- Ich liebe, du liebst, er liebt.....
The reason to watch G.I. Blues is not the story, the cinematography nor the direction even though all three are done with precision and no overkill. The reason to watch is Elvis. This movie was made in 1960 when The King was at his prime and starting to feel comfortable on screen. His performances are excellent, musical numbers that is, and we're all lucky to have them captured. The movie and Elvis are full of charm and you wonder at times how much Elvis' real life was mirrored with all that charm-like atmosphere around him. ***/**** (for an Elvis flick).
On a side note if you find an original poster of this movie, call me.
The movie shows West Germany as a pretty soldier's outpost, and the movie makes no reference to World War Two. Elvis Presley sings a number of songs, including one based on an old German folk song in a cute scene at an outdoor puppet stand. Perhaps surprisingly for its era, the story mentions a boy born out of wedlock with the parents marrying afterward.
This is an average movie, not as strong as Elvis's earlier ones but better than his later ones. Entertaining, but little better than fluff.
Personally am of the opinion that some of his early stuff is actually pretty good (a few even more so than that), the writing and stories weren't always a strong suit but they had good supporting performances, great soundtracks with some iconic songs, they didn't look like they were made on the cheap and Elvis actually showed himself to be a decent enough actor when the songs and material allowed it. The later films when Elvis was past prime not only had those story and script problems but did have problems with production values, less good supporting cast and Elvis being past prime and didn't even have the benefit of having good soundtracks.
After a two-year break for military service, Elvis makes a return to the screen with 'GI Blues'. While it is not quite one of his very best films, being somewhat of a disappointment after 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'King Creole' (his two best, 'Loving You' is high up too), it does fare significantly better than pretty much every film he did afterwards and when ranked it would still rank around the top half of his filmography.
'GI Blues' is not perfect, its somewhat overlong length and the bland and corny script (then again the script has rarely been a strong suit in an Elvis film, with the odd exception like 'King Creole') being its two main drawbacks. The story is also pretty thin and formulaic.
However, Elvis, even in a substantially changed image, once again looks natural and is charismatic and charming. The sultry Juliet Prowse is likewise appealing and Robert Ivers steals scenes with some amusing moments. The soundtrack is terrific also, standouts being the title song, "Wooden Heart", "Didya Ever" and particularly "Doin' the Best I Can", as well as inspired use of one of Elvis' best known songs "Blue Suede Shoes".
Norman Taurog, a hit and miss director for me, directs assuredly, and of his nine features with Elvis 'GI Blues' is one of their better collaborations easily and one where Taurog's direction actually rises above just competent. 'GI Blues' is a good-looking film, being nicely shot in particular.
All in all, pretty good fifth feature for the King of Rock and Roll. 7/10 Bethany Cox
GI Blues was Elvis first post-army flick, and is a million miles away from King Creole. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as this easy going musical romp features some nice tunes, good acting and some very fun scenes.
Elvis takes part in a bet to raise enough money to open a nightclub when he gets out of the army. The bet involves him having to spend a whole night with Juliet Prowse, a nightclub dancer who is "icy" within and "hot" without. As things turn out Elvis falls in love with her and things get complicated further.
The production has a wonderful setting and cast as well as a great soundtrack, including songs like GI Blues, Shopping Around and the delightful 'WOODEN HEART' as the world famous standout hit.
Those where the days with no worries, just Elvis and his magic voice.. I recommend this, Well worth it...
Sure, this one has a lot of music, but the setting for those songs is just right, and even if one does not like a song like Wooden Heart, seeing it midway this story, it works very well.
Elvis as we all know spent his army years in Germany, Bad Nauheim and Friedberg. But we never see Elvis himself actually in Germany in this movie. Yes, it seems like we do, but no, Elvis did not make a movie outside of the US.
Elvis plays Tulsa, a GI stationed in Germany, like he was in real life, and he has a combo with 2 army buddies, not including the sergeant, one that they pull jokes on.
Can somebody hand me my soap during the shower scene sums it up pretty well. The guys all throw their soap at the Sergeant. A scene that always made my dad laugh, and me too.
The movie of course is a musical comedy with lots of scenes like that. Real Hollywood Elvis style, but not as slick or "cheap" like later years, the years Elvis started to dislike his own movies.
Juliet Prowse as the female lead is just perfect, and she works well with Elvis. They both look great, and she was just perfect for that part back in those days.
Songs: of course as I mentioned Wooden Heart, the number one hit worldwide. But also good ones like the title song, and Frankfurt Special, Shopping Around, Doin The Best I Can and What's She Really Like, Didja Ever and more.
Fun part is the song Blue Suede Shoes, which Elvis recorded himself of course. It is played on a jukebox when Tulsa (Elvis) is singing. That guy who put it on wanted the original. Of course that ends in a fight.
I could go on about this movie, but I will say this for now (my first review on IMDb) if you like Elvis and his music, this is one to see. It has all the fun you would expect from an Elvis movie from that era.