Blue Hawaii is the first of three Elvis films to be filmed in Hawaii and will be released on 4K Ultra HD via the Paramount Presents series.
A quick note on the Blue Hawaii Restoration: They scanned the original 35mm negative in 4k/16BIT. Unfortunately, the opening sequence was grainy because it originally used duplicated film. As a result, they completely rebuilt the sequence using the original film elements in the Paramount library. Because of this, the film has brand new text overlays for the opening sequence. If you’ve seen the movie before and are wondering why there might be differences, here’s why!
When it comes to the movie itself, this is the ordinary Elvis movie. All Elvis Presley films seem to play on the same formula. Whether it works or not is up to you – it certainly didn’t work for me. The filmmakers take advantage of Presley’s recent retirement from the US Army by having his character Chadwick “Chad” Gates return home from military service. First thing he does? Make his girlfriend Maile Duval (Joan Blackman) jealous by kissing the stewardess on landing.
Chad’s mother Sarah Lee Gate (Angela Lansbury) would prefer Chad to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company. A rebel, he decides to join his girlfriend and work as a tour guide. One of the first clients Chad deals with are teacher Abigail Prentice (Nancy Walters) and four teenagers. I’m not sure if having 17-year-old Ellie fall in love with Chad is the best idea here, but the fact that she threatens to kill herself over his refusal is something that doesn’t play well. It’s bad enough that Abigail’s main job is to make Maile jealous of her. However, Chad loses his job and then Maile decides to quit as well. Either way, they independently guide Abigail and the teens around Hawaii.
In the end, Chad and Maile team up to start their own tourism company, Gates of Hawaii. When they start the business, they also help Chad’s father’s business. Of course, the wedding bells ring between the two at the end.
Angela Lansbury was a little over 10 years older than Elvis. It’s probably not the first time an actor has been ten years older than their child on screen. It’s not the last either – see William Daniels and Dustin Hoffman in The graduate. Her casting makes it all the more embarrassing given the 18-year age difference between Lansbury and the man on screen, Roland Gates. This is not to say anything bad about the actress as she does what she can with the material she was given.
The soundtrack also includes “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, which went platinum. The film’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack album would spend 20 weeks at #1 on the US charts poster 200 charts. Unfortunately, apart from the beautiful visuals that the Hawaiian setting has to offer, the music is really the only good thing about the film. Does it look good in 4K UHD? Sure, but a film has to be able to do more than just look good! Most of the time the film struggled to hold my attention when I watched it on a Saturday night. There are better Elvis Presley movies that I would highly recommend beforehand Blue Hawaii.
Blue Hawaii is both a tourist advertisement for Hawaii and a way to get people to buy the soundtrack album.
- Commentary by historian James L. Neibaur
- Blue Hawaii Photo Scrapbook – contains high-resolution images from the Paramount archives, including behind-the-scenes footage
- Original cinema trailer
DIRECTOR: Norman Taurog
WRITER: Hal Kanter
ACTORS: Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Nancy Walters
Paramount Pictures released Blue Hawaii on November 22, 1961. Rating: 2/5
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