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.