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Blue Hawaii, the title song of this film, was originally from the score
of another Paramount film Waikiki Wedding which starred Bing Crosby in
1937. Bing sold a few records of that one, albeit they were 78s back
then, and Elvis nicely revives it and sells a few more.
Crosby's film was made to take advantage of a whole lot of publicity he received for a trip to Hawaii. But Paramount as they usually did with his films back they made them on the cheap and Hawaii for Waikiki Wedding was recreated on the back lot.
Bing must have been a little jealous and who could have blamed him when Paramount did this film completely on location in Hawaii for the King. And Elvis got to go back to Hawaii for another film in Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
Elvis got a whole lot of musical numbers here including the title tune which he sings over the opening credits. He does a rockabilly version of the French song Alouette and with different lyrics, the Mexican love ballad, La Paloma. And he borrows a hit from Andy Williams when he reprises the Hawaiian Wedding Song.
Of course no film set in Hawaii is complete without Aloha Oe. But the big song from this film is one of Presley's greatest Can't Help Falling In Love With You. He sings it during a scene for a birthday party for Joan Blackman's grandmother. It's sort of done in a throwaway manner like the producer's didn't think it would be the big number in the film.
It might surprise Presley fans that this blockbuster hit was also recorded by another RCA Victor artist named Perry Como for one of his albums. Perry does a nice job with it, but it ain't a patch on the King's version.
Elvis is a rich young kid who'd like very much to get out from under Mom and Dad and prove himself. He's even done a hitch in the army, but that doesn't help. Parents are played by Roland Winters and Angela Lansbury.
Angela Lansbury recounted a story where she and her husband had dinner with Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis when they were casting Blue Hawaii. She said Elvis was a nice, polite young man who barely said three words during the dinner. The talk was all from Colonel Tom who was making all kinds of offers to the future Jessica Fletcher to be in this film.
Angela's career was somewhat in a dry spell, she hadn't made The Manchurian Candidate yet or appeared on Broadway in Mame. So she was quite willing to appear.
I gained some insight into how Colonel Parker handled Elvis with that story. If you look at the cast and even the behind the camera credits of his films, you'll see them populated with a whole lot of Hollywood veterans. I'll bet there were many such dinners during Elvis's film career.
To be sure Presley was certainly the Colonel's meal ticket. But I would have to say that he made every effort to see that Elvis and his films were given the best possible production values. I think that's why the King had a long sustained film career until public tastes change which they inevitably do. Also musicals, even Elvis's became too cost prohibitive to produce any more.
Blue Hawaii marks the height of Presley's singing and film career. The Beatles hadn't come on the scene yet, the King was still ruling the roost on the record charts and his films were grossing big box office.
And unless your Bing Crosby and feel a twinge of jealousy that his Hawaii film was done on the cheap, you'll like Blue Hawaii very much. It's nice entertainment from a great entertainer.
The ultimate Elvis Presley musical of the 1960's-and the biggest box office
success of his entire Hollywood career. 'Blue Hawaii' is the one that
certainly hit the highs with it's blend of comedy, romance, music, scenery
and a bevvy of beauties!
This film laid down the blueprint for the majority of Elvis' other 60's musicals that each and every Company, writer, producer and director, tried to recapture and remake time and again. But, artistically, it never quite happened.
The water was tested with Presley's first post-army movie, the critically acclaimed 'G.I. Blues', the year before, that introduced us to the new Elvis look and feel. The family audience were captured by Tom Parker's crafty, but clever, plans to make his boy appeal to a much wider spectrum of tastes and trends. And, 'Blue Hawaii' established firmly which route 'The King's' film career path was going to take.
It is an absolute must-see for a number of things including the fine direction of Norman Taurog and the beautiful Hawaiian paradise that unfolds like a travelogue. But, most importantly we are treated to a more mature Elvis Presley who handles his character's script with notable impressive comic timing when feeding off the intimidating characterisation by Angela Lansbury who plays his domineering mother.
Elvis seemed to gain a lot of enthusiasm and incentive by working with a fine supporting cast e.g. 'Jailhouse Rock', 'King Creole', 'Flaming Star', 'Wild In The Country', and 'Blue Hawaii' is no exception to the rule. The immediate screen chemistry between himself and his beautiful co-star, Joan Blackman, portraying the couple in love, is quite in evidence here and they both play off each other amicably. Although, rumour had it, it was a different ball game off camera.
An Elvis movie wouldn't be an Elvis movie if he didn't chant his way through a number of songs and with 'Blue Hawaii' this culminated in a total of fourteen that made up a soundtrack that was to become one of his biggest selling albums ever. These songs blended the local islands traditional themes('Aloha-oe', 'Ku-u-i-po', 'Island of Love'), with silly production tunes('Ito Eats' and 'Almost Always True') and a taste of the new movie-style rock 'n' roll numbers ('Rock-A-Hula Baby' and 'Slicin' Sand') through to the beautiful ballads that Elvis' remarkably crafted operatic voice of this time, handles with consummate skill and ease ('Blue Hawaii', 'No More' and 'Can't Help Falling In Love'). The film's finale is a cinematic classic and beautifully filmed with Elvis once again in tremendous form with those golden vocal chords-Wonderful!
This film was made at the start of a different era of the Rock music phenomenon, and afterall it was Hollywood, so not all of the Hawaiian flavoured ditties will suite everyone's taste. But, it just went to prove no matter what kind of song Elvis sang and released it would still boost sales to the point of gold record certified!
Elvis' performance as homecoming G.I. turned 'beach bum', Chad Gates, is flawless in this movie and obviously shows us that he has a flair for this kind of comedy setting. The film itself when viewed today is still as fresh and feel-good as it ever was which is more than can be stated of the much later so-called sequel-'Paradise Hawaiian Style' and other such Presley vehicles as 'Girl Happy', 'Tickle Me', 'Harum Scarum', 'Easy Come, Easy Go', 'Double Trouble' and 'Clambake'. All of which try to recreate the 'Blue Hawaii' formula albeit in a bad way with Elvis displaying his acting and singing talents in a mediocre sort of way.
But, finally, for all it's class and high points, 'Blue Hawaii', in the long run, was certainly the 'Kiss of Death' for 'The King', and his acting ability and enthusiasm for the big screen would never be portrayed as consistently ever again.
While this is one of Elvis' greatest and fun movies it is a great shame that it was so successful, as it ruined the promise of a wonderful movie career for the King. The scenery and songs are unmatched and it is a fairly decent script, even after some sour comments from Angela Lansbury. Ms. Lansbury has constantly degraded this movie but she made a wonderful appearance as Elvis's mother, and I am sure gave her new fans. This movie was also responsible along with Hawaii Five-O as giving tourism to the Islands a big boost, but have the Hawaiian Tourist Bureau ever mentioned this. 40 years on it is still a treat to watch,and still surpasses some of today's so called "hot movies".Due to the popularity of Blue Hawaii El's management told him this was the way to go.Such a shame.
Elvis Presley was in great shape when he made "Blue Hawaii," which was
a cut above the typical Elvis garbage films that Colonel Tom arranged
for him to make later. This is a really fun film with some great
numbers. I have always been partial to Rock A Hula - it's exuberant,
it's sexy, it's Elvis. This film also features "Can't Help Falling in
Love" and the "Hawaiian Wedding Song." Angela Lansbury has a great turn
as Elvis' southern mother.
This film, with its big budget and great soundtrack, laid the groundwork for the Elvis movies made later. Unfortunately, as Parker had negotiated a percentage of each film, it didn't take him long to realize that the faster and cheaper they made them, the more money for him and, by extension, Elvis. In fact, later on, the songs done in the films were not specifically written for the particular film - they were simply unreleased songs that were bundled into an album as the movie soundtrack.
But when you see Blue Hawaii, don't dwell on any of that. Just enjoy the scenery and the young, healthy Elvis, with his whole post-Army life ahead of him. All 17 years of it.
There's quite a bit to like about this pleasant if unoriginal musical.
Hawaii has never looked better before or since, showcased by beautiful,
panoramic shots in this movie. Here, it's a relentlessly wholesome
place, a mirror image of the seamy underside shown in "Hawaii Five-O"
years later. Tourist-trap "native traditions" are given special
attention. Day or night, it's so intoxicating that it almost makes you
want to immediately hop a plane to Honolulu or to Kauai, the "island of
The soundtrack is quite possibly the best of any Elvis movie, with such gems as "Can't Help Falling In Love," the toe-tapping "Rockahula," "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and an abbreviated but still enjoyable rendition from Elvis of the traditional Hawaiian classic, "Aloha Oe." Unlike virtually every other musical, they never break into song for no good reason. Whether it's to change the subject, serenade a grandmother on her birthday, or liven up a party, there's always a radio or band present rather than having the music come out of nowhere.
Elvis was in top form here - handsome, slim, and boyish. A far cry from the overweight, ostentatious, muttonchopped, rhinestoned, caped and bell-bottomed joke he became a decade later. The rest of the cast was good, with the exception of an over-the-top Angela Lansbury and a cold, unmusical Joan Blackman. Still, the love story was one of the better ones, with the relationship established before the movie opens instead of the ridiculous whirlwind romance of most other Elvis movies.
Watch this on the biggest screen TV to get the feeling you're actually in this Hawaii that never was, at least during the outdoor scenes, not when they retreated to the studio. Better yet, make it a double feature with "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" and you can luxuriate in the Hawaii of 1961, only two years after it had become the 50th state.
There is something about Elvis in Hawaii that makes so much sense to me. The fact that several of his movies were made there is not surprising at all. I enjoyed this one very much - he has some great chemistry w/his co-stars and Angela Lansbury gets to overact as his possessive Mother. All in all, I liked the movie very much and who can resist hearing the King sing "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" on more time?
In 1959, Hawaii became recognized as a station in the Union. In 1961, Elvis
went there to film the first in his trilogy to Hawaii, Blue Hawaii. I wrote
the plot summary, so I won't go through what it is about. I will say that it
is the only musical he is really good at because it was the original that
was then followed by several imitations...all done by Elvis.
Elvis wanted to be a real actor in a film with bite, but this was as close as he would come. The script is light and fun, the acting is good and there are a few songs that aren't that embarassing to The King. Joan Blackman is great as his girl, Maile (I couldn't picture Juliet Prowse in the role since she looked too strong for the character). Angela Lansbury is hilarious in the role of his mother. She says it was a low point in her career, but in truth the chemistry she has with the rest of the cast is good. It is also full of breathtaking scenery. Even the interiors that were filmed in Hollywood don't look bargain budget.
Sadly, Elvis would make more of the same after this. Viva Las Vegas comes close to the greatness Blue Hawaii had, but Tom Parker didn't care as he just wanted to hear 'cha-ching'. Elvis just wasn't strong enough to say 'no' to Parker. Elvis was better than the movies he was in, and if he did the remake of 'A Star Is Born', that would've changed everything.
Everytime I watch this, I get happy but also sad at the same time. His performance is very good and it makes me wonder what might could have been if he didn't do all those formula films.
Elvis is a G.I. returning home to the Hawaiian islands after a 2 year stint in the service, but remains a kid at heart who doesn't want to grow up. His parents would love him to work a sensible job at his father's pineapple business (!) but all Presley wants to do is have a good time, so he becomes a tour guide (ho-hum). G.I. BLUES was fun and, when we consider all Presley's films in production order, it worked well as a romantic comedy on its own. But BLUE HAWAII was really the film that would take Elvis into a silly direction for most of his future movies in the '60s. He doesn't seem as interested as he was in previous roles, and now we also get a heaping helping of corny twangy throwaway Hawaiian songs from "the King", with embarrassing titles like "Ito Eats". One saving grace music-wise is his featured classic tune "Can't Help Falling in Love", but unfortunately it's an abbreviated version and is sung to an old lady. Angela Lansbury puts in a good effort as Presley's flighty mom, but it doesn't help matters any. I do, in fact, enjoy some of Elvis' later goofy 1960s fun flicks for what they are, but this one was just too standard and aimless. ** out of ****
This is one of his all time best movies. The plot is great and so is the scenery. Young man who wants to make it oh his own. This movie also has a strong supporting cast with the lat Howard McNear, Joan Blackman playing opposit Elvis and the heralded Angela Lansbury. This was his best musical and second only to Charro! as his best. Unfortunately this movie and GI Blues (both good movies) were so successful that this became the formula.
.... as far as Elvis's adventures in the movies are concerned.All that
he did before is worth a watch :"love me tender" "flaming star"
"jailhouse rock" "king creole" are exciting movies even if you are not
a big Elvis fan."Wild in the country" was inferior but it had at least
a decent screenplay.
The slump begins with "Blue Hawai" .The talented directors (Richard Thorpe,Don Siegel...) were replaced by Norman Taurog who would become Elvis's regular one.
OK,Hawai's pictures are nice,there is Angela Landsbury.
The songs are weaker than in the previous flicks:the only memorable tune is "can't help falling in love" based on an old French folk song "Plaisir D'Amour" (=joys of love).
You'd better take one of the movies I mention above,particularly Don Siegel's "Flaming Star".
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