Rick Richards is a helicopter pilot who wants to set up a charter flying service in Hawaii -- along the way he makes some friends, including a young Hawaiian girl and her father, romances Judy Hudson, and sings a few songs.
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Rick Richards is a helicopter pilot who wants to set up a charter flying service in Hawaii -- along the way he makes some friends, including a young Hawaiian girl and her father, romances Judy Hudson, and sings a few songs. Written by
Michael C. Berch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Paradise Hawaiian Style" is a somewhat bizarre mix of Guy Lombardo and "Magnum P.I.". Younger viewers seeking an answer to why the British Invasion of the mid-1960's was almost instantly successfully need look no further than this film. By 1966 Elvis Presley had gone from a target audience of teenagers looking to scare their parents with his sensual style of rock and roll, to being the heartthrob of the nursing home circuit; electing to skip entirely the huge demographic between these two groups. The British Invasion was able to hit our beaches almost unopposed.
A rather tired looking Elvis plays Rick Richards, a sweet-talking womanizing airline pilot who finds himself unemployed and back in the islands. Rick teams up with his old island buddy Danny Kohana (James Shigeta of "Flower Drum Song" fame) to open a helicopter charter service. Shigeta is pretty good in this role as a responsible family man who must ride herd on his philandering partner. Rick's female conquests prove useful in drumming up charter customers; while these arrangements can be blamed for the repeatedly lame joke (and song) about "scratching each others back".
Setting back women's lib by several years is female pilot Judy Hudson (played by Suzanna Leigh) who is relegated to receptionist duties as the boys do all the flying. Leigh is a staggeringly untalented actress and could be a source of many mockfest moments if that's your idea of a good time.
Marianne Hill (a good actress who a couple years later turned in a memorable guest performance on "Star Trek") plays Rick's main love interest. My guess is that the two female parts were originally combined and that the producers owed some favors; so they split up the character. A disservice to the movie as there is not enough remaining in either part to connect with an already unengaged audience.
A touch of cuteness was added by casting Donna Butterworth as Rick's 10-year old daughter. She and The King have a couple decent numbers together, the only songs worthy of your attention. As in "Blue Hawaii" there are island themed musical productions but no actual island songs or music. And the geriatric garbage Elvis sings is surreal in its wholesomeness. Just a few years before, many parents had been reluctant to let the television appearances of this dangerous predator into their living rooms.
One thing to note is the total absence of close-ups. Elvis had gone all Frank Sinatra by this point and was strictly limiting the amount of time he spent on the set. Since he appears in most of the movie this meant that the director had to make do with wide master shots and second unit stuff. A bad thing because point-of-view, acting for the camera, and character identification are all casualties of this Minnelli style of film-making. Yet a good thing as the second unit does a great job with the aerial sequences, the scenery, and the natives (all of which is nicely showcased on the DVD which was made from a excellent original).
Also worth watching for from a film school perspective is one of the worst directed sequences you are likely to find in any mainstream production. Midway through the film Elvis and some unknown and eager looking starlet are placed in a scene with about a half dozen dogs. This is supposed to be a comic moment as the misbehaving dogs cause the copter to fly wildly around the island (studio shots of Elvis cut into 2nd unit outdoor flying sequences) and when it finally lands Elvis and the bubbly actress emerge looking completely disheveled. But they can't get much action from the sedated dogs and the director can't get much energy from the bored Elvis. So you have shot after shot of this overeager starlet mugging for the camera and overreacting to the phantom disruptions of the dogs; who were too sleepy to be a factor.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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