Tag Archives: 1960

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii is a 1961 musical film set in the state of Hawaii and starring Elvis Presley.

Chadwick Gates (Presley) has just gotten out of the Army, and is happy to be back in Hawaii with his surfboard, his beach buddies, and his girlfriend. His mother wants him to go to work at the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company, but Chad is reluctant. So Chad goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend’s agency.

Although it is mentioned in the film that Chad’s parents live in Kahala, one of the most expensive and exclusive areas of Honolulu as of 1961, the view from their lanai (porch or terrace) shows Diamond Head as it appears from Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. This is an error because Kahala is located on the other side of Diamond Head from Waikiki.

There were several scenes filmed in and around the famous Waikiki Beach, including the opening driving scenes as well as the office scene across the street from the “International Market”. The hotel scenes where Chad’s clients stayed and where he picked up his tour group were filmed on the property of what is now known as the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki Beach. This is also where Chad and his girlfriend spent time on the beach.

“Blue Hawaii” was the first of three Elvis movies to be filmed in Hawaii, followed by “Girls! Girls! Girls!” in 1962 and “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” in 1965.

Angela Lansbury, who played the mother of Elvis, was not yet 36 years old in 1961 when the movie was released. Elvis was 26 years old. Lansbury would later comment that her appearance here was one of the worst in her career.

It could be argued that this film set the tone for Presley’s future film career: pretty locations, gorgeous girls, and mediocre songs. Almost all of these musical-comedy films performed well, whereas more “serious” films such as Flaming Star, Wild in the Country and Charro!, did poorly at the box office. Blue Hawaii on the other hand was one of Elvis’ most successful films.

While some of the songs on the soundtrack album can fairly be described as “inferior,” others compare favorably to his non-soundtrack recordings. Presley’s remake of the title song did justice to the Academy Award-winning song, while also introducing it to an audience too young to remember Bing Crosby’s original hit version. His recording of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” compares quite well to his other Top 10 hits, and his recordings of “Rock-A-Hula Baby” and “Ku-u-ipo (Hawaiian Sweetheart)” are notable as well.

The “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack album was on the Billboard Pop Albums chart for 79 weeks, spent 20 weeks at #1 on the Pop Albums chart, and sold more than 2-million copies.

Flaming Star

Flaming Star is a 1960 western film starring Elvis Presley, based on the book Flaming Lance (1958) by Clair Huffaker. A dramatic role, it is said that Elvis Presley gave one of his best acting performances as the mixed-blood “Pacer Burton.” The film’s working title was Black Star. Flaming Star was directed by Don Siegel.

Elvis Presley plays Pacer Burton, the son of a Kiowa mother and a Texas rancher father. Along with his half-brother, Clint, the four of them live a typical life on the Texas frontier. Life soon becomes anything but typical when a nearby tribe of Kiowa begin raiding neighboring homesteads. Pacer soon finds himself caught between the two worlds, part of both but belonging to neither.

Pacer (Elvis Presley) and Clint (Steve Forrest) Burton arrives at their parents’ ranch in the early evening. They are welcomed with a surprise party for Clint’s birthday by their parents, Neddy (Dolores Del Rio) and Sam (John Mclntire), and some friends. Among them are Tom (L.Q.Jones) and Will (Douglas Dick) Howard and their sister Dorothy (Anne Benton). The party breaks up early because the Howards have a ten-mile ride. A Kiowa war party, led by Buffalo Horn (Rudolpho Acosta), is waiting for the Howards and everyone is killed and their ranch burned.

A posse of white men led by Dred Pierce (Karl Swenson) arrives at the Burtons’ ranch. They demand a declaration that the Burtons are on their side. They insult Neddy (who is a Kiowa), which results in a shooting incident, after which the posse shoots some of the Burton cattle and scatters the rest. The next day Sam and Clint go to catch the remaining of the cattle, and Pacer stays to guard his mother. Pacer feeds two trappers, who, while he is outside, humiliate Neddy. She hits one with a ladle, and they fly when Pacer tells them that Sam and Clint have returned.

The next morning, Buffalo Horn arrives and asks Pacer to join him. When Pacer refuses, he is told that his ranch will be the next to go. Pacer and Neddy decide to go with Buffalo Horn to the Kiowa camp to try to stop this impending disaster for everyone. Neddy is refused by the Kiowa but Pacer is accepted and allowed to return home before making his decision. He and Neddy are escorted by his boyhood friend, Two Moons (Perry Lopez) . Will Howard has survived the massacre and is wandering the countryside, obsessed with vengeance. He kills Two Moons and badly wounds Neddy. At the ranch Sam takes care of his wife. But when he leaves to water the stock, she follows some deep instinct to go into the mountains in search of her ‘Flaming star’ of death. Sam sees her, and she dies in his arms. Pacer, Clint, Roz and the doctor arrive too late. In his grief, Pacer curses all those who delayed the doctor and decides to join the Kiowa.

Clint, decides to fight the Indians and attacks them in the middle of the night. He kills the chief, but gets badly wounded. In order to save his brother Pacer leaves the Kiowa again and ties his brother on his horse and sends him to the city. He keeps the Indians busy until he’s sure his brother is safe. Clint wakes up in bed and wants to get up to help his brother. He sees Pacer arriving in the city and wants to take care of him. But Pacer, who is still too much Kiowa knows his time has come and rides towards his flaming star.

Andy Warhol’s famous diptych of Presley as a cowboy came from a shot in this movie.

G.I. Blues

G.I. Blues is a 1960 Elvis Presley musical motion picture played as a romantic comedy. It was filmed while Presley was fulfilling his military service obligation with the United States Army in West Germany during the height of the Cold War. It was filmed at Paramount’s Hollywood studios and on location in Germany.

U.S. Army Specialist 5 (SP5) Tulsa McLean (Elvis Presley) is a tank crewman with a singing career. Serving with the 3rd Armored “Spearhead” Division in West Germany, McLean dreams of running his own nightclub when he leaves the army, but such dreams don’t come cheap. Tulsa places a bet on his friend Dynamite (Edward Stroll), that he can spend the night with a club dancer named Lili (Juliet Prowse), who is rumored to be hard to get. She turned down one other G.I. operator, Turk (Jeremy Slate). Dynamite and Turk have vied for women before when the two were stationed in Hawaii. When Dynamite gets transferred to Alaska, Tulsa is brought in to take his place. He is not looking forward to it, but in order to keep his money, he must go through with it. McLean uses his Southern charm and calls Lili, “Ma’am.” She at first sees Tulsa as another Occupation Duty GI. Then after a day on the Rhine, Lili begins to fall for McLean. Tulsa’s friend Cookie falls in love, with Lili’s roommate, Tina (Letícia Román) from Italy. In the end, Rick and Marla’s baby son Tiger helps Tulsa win the bet for the outfit and the Lili’s heart.

The 32nd Armored was Elvis Presley’s regiment when he was in the army and again in this. The soundtrack album went to No. 1 on Billboard and spent over two years (111 weeks) on the Billboard charts.