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Saturday, 6 April 2013

G.I. Blues (1960) - Star of the month... Juliet Prowse

"Gi Blues" is a 1960 musical comedy directed by Norman Taurog and starring Elvis Presley, Juliet Prowse and Robert Ivers with Letícia Román, James Douglas, Edson Stroll and Jeremy Slate.

Tulsa McLean (played by Elvis Presley) is an American singing G.I., based in Germany. Tulsa aspires to open his own nightclub in America, but to do this he must raise $600. In an attempt to raise the money, he makes a bet he can spend the night alone with local nightclub dancer Lily (played by Juliet Prowse), in her apartment. Lily has a reputation for playing hard to get, and is even referred to by one G.I. as a "steamboat on the outside, but an iceberg inside".

Musical program

The original soundtrack album for "G.I. Blues"
  • "What's She Really Like" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "G.I. Blues" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Doin' the Best I Can" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Blue Suede Shoes" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Frankfort Special" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Shoppin' Around" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Tonight Is So Right For Love" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Wooden Heart" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Pocketful of Rainbows" - performed by Elvis Presley & Juliet Prowse (her singing is dubbed by an unknown vocalist)
  • "Big Boots" - performed by Elvis Presley
  • "Didja Ever" - performed by Elvis Presley

Blink and you'll miss...

  • A young Britt Ekland in a very small cameo as the red-head Britta (approx. 10 mins into the film)
  • While Tulsa is singing "Doin' the Best I Can", another solider puts a coin into a juke box and plays a song called "Blue Suede Shoes" recorded by a singer called Elvis Presley
  • The G.I.s are all wearing underwear in the shower
  • The number of the sky lift at Rüdesheim which Tulsa & Lili ride is 76

Did you know...

  • This was Elvis' first film after servicing two years with the army - the film prior to this was "King Creole" (1958)
  • Juliet Prowse's singing was dubbed by an unknown vocalist
  • Elke Sommer, Ursula Andress and May Britt were all considered for the role of Lili
  • Anna-Maria Alberghetti was considered to play the role of Tina
  • Russ Tamblyn, Frank Gorshin, Carleton Carpenter & Johnny Carson were considered for the role of Cookie - Carpenter was eventually cast but later replaced by Robert Ivers
  • The film was primarily shot at Paramount Studios, Hollywood, with some pre-prodution scenery shot on location in Germany (prior to Elvis' release from the army) - Elvis was not involved in any location filming, with all his filming completed in Hollywood
  • Tulsa's regiment is the 32nd armored, which was also Elvis' real life regiment with he was in the army
  • The army tanks and vehicles were supplied by the U.S. Army, who appointed public information officer John J. Mawn as technical advisor
  • Although panned by critics, the film was the 14th biggest box office grossing film of the year, grossing $4.3million
  • A riot following a screening of "G.I. Blues" in Mexico City, resulted in the Mexican government banning Elvis movies
  • The original title for the film was "Cafe Europa" - which is what the film is still called in some European countries (i.e.: Italy, Germany, etc.)
  • The boat in the film ("Bonn"), is now located in Karlshamn, Sweden, and is used as a disco
  • Michael Curtiz was originally intended to direct this film - Curtiz had directed Elvis' previous film, "King Creole" (1958)
  • While filming the sky lift scene at Rüdesheim, director of photography Loyal Griggs fell out of his cart, plunging 30 feet - fortunately he was not seriously injured

Award nominations...

  • Grammy Award nomination for Best Soundtrack Album
  • Grammy Award nomination for Best Vocal Performance Album, Male (Elvis Presley)
  • Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Written American Musical
  • Golden Laurel Award 2nd Place (runner up) for Top Musical of 1960
  • Ranked at #2 on the Variety Weekly national box office chart in 1960

Closing remarks

Although "G.I. Blues" is yet another awful entry in Elvis' filmography, there is something very exciting about this particular film... the presence of Juliet Prowse.

Juliet Prowse was an extraordinary dancer and a wonderful talent, who is unfortunately often forgotten today. Although she didn't make many films, she is still one of my favourite dancing actresses along with Ann Miller, Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse and Leslie Caron.

As usual, we get the standard-stock shallow plot, which follows the basic formula for almost of all Elvis' films... Elvis meets girl; girl plays hard to get; Elvis eventually gets girl. Along the way, Elvis sings all the songs from his latest album. 

Speaking of which, despite the myriad of Elvis songs in this film, the musical highlight for me is Juliet Prowse's solo dance number. I really like the way the camera focuses solely on Prowse for the entire sequence, and treats us with the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy her dancing talent. We are fortunate to also experience something similar with another of Elvis' leading ladies, Ann-Margret in Elvis' later film "Viva Las Vegas" (1964). 

Overall a weak and rather slow film - it takes approx. 30 mins for the storyline to kick off. That said, this film is one of a handful of Elvis' films I would recommend watching, solely to see Juliet Prowse's most memorable screen appearance. 

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