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Paradise, Hawaiian Style is the second of three films Elvis Presley
filmed in Hawaii. What a lucky guy, three trips to Hawaii for free at
Paramount's expense. Good a reason as any to visit the islands.
Elvis plays a pilot who gets together with good buddy James Shigeta to form a helicopter touring and freighting service. Shigeta takes care of the business end of the business and Elvis both flies and charms his way into the hearts of various local beauties to plug his service at the hotels they work at.
Funniest thing in the movie is Elvis trying to fly a helicopter with about five dogs running around with their ditzy owner as well, miracle he wasn't killed. The owner insists they not go in doggie carriers and Elvis, desperate for business, is the only pilot to agree with that insanity.
Paradise, Hawaiian Style is not as good as Blue Hawaii, the songs he sings here are markedly inferior. But I like the film because a lot of it was shot at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Northern Oahu. Some might recognize the film music used when Elvis makes his first appearance there. It's the famous theme from Donovan's Reef, also shot in Hawaii and another favorite of mine.
That center was the highlight of the attractions I saw in the Aloha State and should not be missed by any tourists.
Another reviewer said the film must have been a deal with the Hawaiian Tourism Board with all the beautiful outdoor location shooting. Good a reason as I've ever heard to watch a film.
If you were Elvis and had to make this sort of film time and time
again, you'd have been on drugs too. "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" can
easily be confused with "Blue Hawaii" - both take place in Hawaii, both
are about the travel business, both have women in them. But there are
differences. Elvis was drop-dead gorgeous in "Blue Hawaii," there were
some great songs, and it had Angela Lansbury in the cast.
By the time this movie was made, Elvis looked out of it and he was stuffed into a tapered shirt. Back in the old days, they used to teach actors to pull their stomachs in when standing in profile. No one told Elvis. In some scenes, he looks as if he doesn't know where he is.
There is no plot, just dazzling scenery. The songs are rotten. Donna Butterworth as the daughter of James Shigeta is excellent - what a voice. James Shigeta is good as well. There are a few good scenes - the one in the helicopter with the dogs is one. I'm sure I can think of more... The excuses for Elvis to burst into song are tragic.
It's amazing how such an important career was peppered with so many unimportant films, thanks to his management, i.e., Colonel Parker. Elvis could have dumped him and gone to anyone in the world, but he was a hillbilly with enormous gifts, belief in his own power not being one of them. He was confident with his music, but he was superstitious and felt he couldn't make without Colonel Parker. It's a shame - as brilliant a career as Elvis had, it could have been so much more. He could have toured Europe and Japan, for instance - if only Colonel Tom wasn't in the country illegally. And he could have made better movies. The offers were there, but Colonel Tom was afraid of losing control.
So Colonel Tom held a tight rein on Elvis. "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" is one example of his brilliant management of one of the greatest talents that ever existed. Proceed at the risk of being hulaed to death.
If Hal Wallis had produced this little epic 10 years earlier, it might have
starred his other contract players, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (with Lewis
in the role of the little girl played by Donna Butterworth). If it had been
made 10 years later, after "The Godfather Part II" made it fashionable to
number sequels, "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" might have been titled "Blue
Hawaii, Part II." It's not an official sequel, but that's a mere
technicality. The only real difference between the two films is that this
one is infinitely worse. Whereas "Blue Hawaii" was little more than a
travelogue, it was professional looking with some decent songs and a star
who still seemed to be in touch with some form of reality. "Paradise,
Hawaiian Style" is a grubby, grimy, cheap looking thing with a pudgy,
seemingly zonked out Elvis warbling tunes so dreadful ("Queenie Wahine's
Papaya," "Datin'"), they weren't worthy of the vinyl record on which they
were pressed let alone a gold one.
Watching Presley in this wretched vehicle, one can only look on in amazement and wonder if this is, indeed, the same sneering guy who set the world on fire a decade earlier. This is a Twilight Zone Elvis in a movie for those curious to know how the state of mind known as "stunned disbelief" really feels.
But that's about it. I would have to agree with most of the posters that this is not Elvis's best Hawaii flick, but it sure shows off Kauai in all its tropical beauty. It can't be denied that the plot lines of the typical Elvis movie are rarely very deep, and this one is no different. But I still find entertainment in all of them. Even "Paradise, Hawaiian Style." As an avid enthusiast of Hawaii, traveling there every year when time allows, I tend to like Elvis movies filmed in Hawaii more than the others. I would have loved to have visited Hawaii in the days of "Blue Hawaii" and "Paradise, Hawaiian Style," and it's cool to see what it looked like in those days. The Polynesian Cultural Center especially. This movie may not be the best Elvis had to offer, but it showcases Kauai in all its amazing beauty. It may be a little silly in its plot line, but it's still fun.
Producer Hal Wallis uses the same formula as "Blue Hawaii" to no avail. Rick Richards (Presley) enters a partnership in a charter helicopter service with his buddy played by James Shigeta. Richards is temporarily ground by the FAA for losing control of his chopper. Meanwhile Shigeta crashes on a flight with his daughter on board. Without a license, Richards to the rescue. Donna Butterworth plays the sweet little scene stealer. The grown up girls that help by just being there are Suzanne Leigh, Marianna Hill and Linda Wong. Nine songs make up a pleasant soundtrack. "This Is My Heaven" and "Stop Where You Are" are hidden among much flirtation with foolishness. Kauai is a breathe taking backdrop; but "Blue Hawaii" this is not.
This was a movie that I watched primarily because of the photography of
1960s Hawaii. In the opening scene, there's a great pan of Diamond Head
all the way to the Ilikai hotel. If you spend much time in Hawaii,
you'll notice hotels that don't exists yet and several that are even
being built during the filming of this movie. Specifically, you can see
the Outrigger Waikiki under construction as well as what is now known
as the Resortquest Waikiki Beach. Ironically, the Resortquest Waikiki
Beach is now an Elvis era themed hotel. The Sheraton Waikiki is an
Another really neat observation is the scene at the beach park near Chinaman's hat. It is literally timeless! The beach looks the same today as it does in the movie. Almost everything else has changed in many ways.
The film won't be an example of great acting and certainly the plot leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, it's fun to see the island from 40 years ago. Even Kalakaua Ave is a two-way street!
I have never commented on Elvis Presley although I like his musical style now more than ever compared to the loud hysterical noise we have today. I saw this movie yesterday on AMC TV and by golly it was a good entertaining movie, songs were good, the thin story line was decent, and the Hawaii scenery beautiful and gorgeous; what a backdrop for any musical! Elvis was the only famous character in it, but it was so enjoyable, I could see it again! I thought Elvis was good also in that movie "Love Me Tender", but all the others were just so-so.
Last night, I watched Elvis in "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" for the 20,000th time. It's not one of his best (few movies can be considered 'his best'). It has a silly plot, and the scenery is more of an attraction than story itself. The one actress that steals the show is not one of the bevy of beauties that Elvis woos. It comes more in the form of 10-year old Donna Butterworth. She steals every scene that she is in, and not a bad singer at all. I have roamed heaven and earth to try to find out what has happened to young Donna. If anyone knows, drop me an email. Anyway, if you are looking for a good time killer, watch this film.
Paradise, Hawaiin Style is a film about a pilot who is thrown out of
his old job for being a sleaze-bag. He comes back to his island buddies
in Hawaii to start a new helicopter charter business with his pilot
friend. It seems to be working out well for them until his old ways
start catching him
Apart from throwing into a song every 10 minutes,
the film features a nice cast who play the various friends of Elvis
Presley's character, Rick. Of particular note is Donna Butterworth, a
young girl with a great voice who looks like she had a lot of fun
making this 1966 film.
The film also features a pair of ever-present Bell 47J Ranger helicopters, quite often seen making max. performance takeoffs and hasty landings. The film is a real treat for aircraft and helicopter enthusiasts who get to see these old machines in great detail, up close. A lot of back-projection is used for the flying scenes featuring close-ups of Elvis and the other cast members, and the scenery is beautiful.
One particular scene has the chopper flying through a mountainous valley with dives and climbs not usually seen performed by such helicopters. Another scene has a bunch of canine passengers causing havoc for Elvis as he tries to fly the chopper, getting low and fast, scaring locals and crashing a car.
The legendary Elvis is particularly wooden in this film, just going through the motions to make a film with no real depth to his role, otherwise it is an enjoyable film for the entire family.
Watch this and you'll realize how the British Invasion was able to so
successfully take place. Elvis, whose rebelliously suggestive style of
singing/dancing had earned him a top place on every RnR chart and every
mother's blacklist, was now reduced to charmingly bland duets with
little girls and listlessly barreling through his roles as singing
pilot, copter, race car driver, etc. To say much goes on in this is an
understatement, because not much DOES go on. It's easy to confuse this
with the similarly-titled "Blue Hawaii," but as meh-meh as I found BH,
well, let's just say BH at least has some semblance of a plot and a bit
of that Elvis enthusiasm to make up for it.
In "Paradise, Hawaiian Style," there's lots of easy women (as usual) he has his play/business transactions with, the family-oriented friend and co-copter, some minor issues resulting in a license revoking (as usual, nicely resolved by the end) and an overwhelming amount of screen time devoted to the lovely scenery and native Hawaiian culture. That's about it. I even forgot his character's name in this, because it's so easy just to think "Okay, Elvis is singing in a helicopter to a bunch of sedated dogs with that one woman, now Elvis is visiting this other woman's folks and they're all shaking their hulas..."
As other reviews have mentioned, he is noticeably heavier here. We all know he was a tad sensitive when it came to his weight, but one can't deny the sleek Elvis has a slight "extra" here - this and "Clambake" shows us the movie Elvis at his heaviest (and, I'd argue, depressed) before shrinking to his smallest for the '68 Special. But what was most perceptible was his face, which had "bored" quietly written all over it. And who wouldn't be with the lukewarm script, the lame bar fight and the many scene excuses for a song? I think I would have fallen asleep if I didn't find his sleepwalking more interesting to watch.
There were a few instances where he seemed to rush through the philandering scenes and songs. As an avid fan, even I found some of the numbers (all with that "Hawaiian" sound but ultimately just sounding like stock music) to be forgettable. Perhaps that might not have been the case if it hadn't been for the random excuses they made to throw them in (Scratch My Back and Stop Where You Are), but maybe that's just me and my guilty pleasure in silly Elvis songs (besides, the laugh tracks from his movie songs are hilarious to listen to). As it is, Parker handled the helm and his star client suffered as a result.
Elvis could have made many great movies, but only a scant handful - the exceptions of 14 years of drivel - can be called great or even watchably good. Don't see "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" if you want a credible performance: you'll want to turn around sleepily and not come back. Go for "King Creole," "Follow That Dream," "Flaming Star," "Jailhouse Rock" or, if more Hawaiian scenery is what you'd prefer, "Blue Hawaii."
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