With summer almost here, it’s time for some fun in the sun! With that in mind, we’re off on another Hawaiian trip with the 1961 Elvis Presley musical Blue Hawaii, also starring Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury and Nancy Walters!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Feed ‘Em And Weep (1938)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 6 (1936-1938) from ClassicFlix)
(Length: 10 minutes, 55 seconds)
Mr. Hood (Johnny Arthur) is looking forward to a nice birthday meal with just his immediate family. However, Alfalfa (Carl Switzer), Porky (Eugene Lee) and Philip (Philip Hurlic) interrupt him, and constantly distract him from the meal. This was yet another funny Little Rascals short! Obviously, the main fun is how exasperated Mr. Hood gets with all the kids’ antics, when all he wants to do is eat his food (and can’t even manage to do that)! I had a good time with this short, and would certainly love to see it again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
After finishing his two-year stint in the Army, Chadwick “Chad” Gates (Elvis Presley) has returned to his home in Hawaii. However, despite the urgings of his girlfriend Maile Duval (Joan Blackman), Chad refuses to go to his family’s home and intends to hide out at his old shack on the beach. His reason? His parents (especially his mother) want him to work at the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company, which his father is the vice president of, but Chad has no desire to work there. For five days, Chad manages to stay hidden. That is, until his father, Fred Gates (Roland Winters), walks into the travel agency that Maile works at and reveals his knowledge of Chad’s return. Caught, Chad has no choice but to “return” to his home and see his parents. As he had expected, they start pushing the idea of him working at his father’s company, so he leaves them again. While talking with Maile (who works at a travel agency), Chad gets the bright idea to work for the agency as a tour guide, for which he is immediately hired. His first job is to ferry a schoolteacher, Abigail Prentice (Nancy Walters), and four teenage girls around the islands. He has a lot of trouble with this group, mainly because Maile assumes that Abigail is flirting with him, and one of the four teenagers does openly try to flirt with him. Chad is fired when he gets into a fight with another tourist (mostly because the troublemaking teenager tried to flirt with that other tourist since Chad was ignoring her). However, because Abigail and her group do want Chad to be their guide, Chad goes into business for himself (with Maile’s help, since she had quit her job with the agency), and they continue the tour. Maile decides to surprise Chad by stopping at the hotel that he and his group are staying at, but ends up trying to leave Chad when she catches Abigail kissing Chad in his room. Will Chad be able to patch things up with Maile (and maintain his own independence from his father’s company), or will he be miserable trying to accommodate everybody?
Producer Hal B. Wallis was among the first to consider Elvis Presley for a Hollywood contract, signing him to do Loving You (1957) and King Creole (1958). After two years in the army, Elvis came back to Hollywood and did G.I. Blues (1960) for the producer, which was a hit with audiences. Trying to expand his range as an actor, Elvis did Flaming Star (1960) and Wild In The Country (1961), which weren’t quite as successful. As a result, he was pushed back into a more formulaic film. For Blue Hawaii, Juliet Prowse (his co-star from G. I. Blues) was set to work with him again, but she made too many demands. So, she was dropped, and Joan Blackman was brought in to play Maile. The movie was filmed in various locations in Hawaii. The movie wasn’t well-liked by critics, but audiences came to see it, making it one of Elvis’ most successful films (and soundtracks). As a result, Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, decided that this “formula” was what Elvis needed to stick with to enjoy box office success (much to his dismay).
In preparing for this review, this was probably the second time that I’ve had the opportunity to watch (and enjoy) Blue Hawaii. Now, I’ve been doing reviews here on my blog for nearly five years now, and, as much as I enjoy musicals, I haven’t really gotten around to reviewing any of Elvis Presley’s films yet (which, even beyond this film, I’m in the process of changing). There’s one simple reason for that: while I’ve enjoyed some of his films, I’ve mainly considered them “fluff” films that are fun when I see them, but I otherwise don’t feel a great urgency to see them that often. There’s a degree to which this film still falls into that category. Most of the performances are adequate (the main exception here, surprisingly, would be Angela Lansbury, whose ditzy, status-obsessed Southern mother kind of gets grating after a while). The comedy is nothing special, but I can’t deny that the film did provide a few laughs here and there. There’s quite a bit of music in this film, but I would say that the only really memorable ones are the title tune (which is relegated to being background music for the opening credits, and, even then, I still prefer Bing Crosby’s rendition from Waikiki Wedding), Elvis’ big hit “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and “Rock-A-Hula” (some of the others are also fun, but quickly forgotten). It’s certainly not the best musical I’ve ever seen, but I would still call it decent (and, quite frankly, it’s one of the better Elvis films, aided very much by the beautiful Hawaiian scenery), so it’s still worth giving a chance!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Blue Hawaii (1961)
This movie is available in a 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo pack from Paramount Pictures as part of their Paramount Presents line. It feels like an understatement to say that this release is rather stunning! The image has been cleaned up of all dirt and debris, and looks nice and clear. The color really pops on the 4K UHD with the HDR, making this 4K really worthwhile! The only complaint that some might have is that, in order to restore the opening credits, Paramount’s restorationists had to go back to the original footage (minus the credits), and then re-do the credits. The problem there being that the credits don’t quite look the same as they did originally, because of the different fonts used. It’s annoying (and will bother some more than others), but I think the transfer for the rest of the film more than makes up for it!
Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes
My Rating: 7/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Reluctant Debutante (1958) – Angela Lansbury
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