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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Blue Hawaii (1961) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury

"Tourists are not nice people. They're tourists" - Angela Lansbury (as Sarah Lee Gates in 'Blue Hawaii')

'Blue Hawaii' is a 1961 musical directed by Norman Taurog and starring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman and Angela Lansbury. The film was produced by Hal B. Wallis and its screenplay was written by Hal Kanter.

Chadwick Gates (played by Presley) is an ex-GI who returns to the Hawaiian islands after two years service. His mother Sarah Lee Gates (played by Lansbury) wants Chad to work at the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company, but to spite her Chad takes a job at a travel agency with his girlfriend, Maile Duval (played by Blackman).

Musical program

The film features 14 new Elvis songs, including one of his biggest hits "Can't Help Falling in Love" and a cover of Bing Crosby's "Blue Hawaii"

  • "Blue Hawaii" - Elvis Presley
  • "Almost Always True" - Elvis Presley
  • "Aloha Oe" - Elvis Presley
  • "No More" - Elvis Presley
  • "Can't Help Falling in Love" - Elvis Presley
  • "Rock-A-Hula Baby" - Elvis Presley
  • "Moonlight Swim" - Elvis Presley
  • "Ku-U-I-Po" - Elvis Presley
  • "Ito Eats" - Elvis Presley
  • "Slicing' Sand" - Elvis Presley
  • "Hawaiian Sunset" - Elvis Presley
  • "Beach Boy Blues" - Elvis Presley
  • "Island of Love (Kauai)" - Elvis Presley
  • "Hawaiian Wedding Song" - Elvis Presley

Song: "Can't Help Falling in Love" - Elvis Presley

Song: "Almost Always True" - Elvis Presley

Song: "Rock-A-Hula Baby" - Elvis Presley

Song: "Slicin' Sand" - Elvis Presley

Did you know...

  • Angela Lansbury at age 35 was only 9 years older than Elvis Presley, who played her son
  • Angela Lansbury feels her appearance in 'Blue Hawaii' was one of the worst in her career 
  • The film finished as the 10th top-grossing film of 1961, and 14th in 1962 on the 'Variety' national box office survey, earning $5million
  • The film was shot on location in Hawaii at Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Mount Tantalus and Hanauma Bay
  • The first of three Elvis films shot in Hawaii - this was followed by 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' (1962) and 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style' (1965)
  • Juliet Prowse was considered for the role of Maile Duval, but was dropped after her demands were put forward
  • The film was originally titled 'Hawaii Beach Boy'
  • Elvis was apparently very pale prior to filming, so producer Hal B. Wallis recommended a tanning lamp to darken his skin
  • The 'Blue Hawaii' soundtrack album spent 20 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Pop Album chart in the US - with sales of over 3 million in the US, it spent 79 weeks on the charts
  • Pamela Austin's film debut
  • Look closely and pop singer Patti Paige can be seen paddling a canoe approx. 7 mins before the end, as Maile kicks Chad out of her room
  • Producer Hal B. Wallis can be seen as an extra walking down the street

Awards and nominations

  • ASCAP Film and Television Music Award winner for Most Performed Feature Film Standard ("Can't Help Falling in Love")
  • Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical (Hal Kanter)
  • Laurel Award nomination for Top Musical of 1961 (awarded 4th place)
  • Grammy Award nomination for Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture of Television

Closing remarks

'Blue Hawaii' is yet another typical badly made Elvis film with a thin plot, beautiful beaches, pretty girls and a lot of mediocre songs.

What makes 'Blue Hawaii' one the better entries in Elvis' repertoire of bad movies is both the spectacular location footage in Hawaii, as well as Angela Lansbury's amusing performance as Elvis' mother. Although Lansbury did not like her performance in his film, I feel she is being a little hard on herself.

The film is also notable for Elvis performing one of his biggest hits: "Can't Help Falling in Love With You".

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