Elvis Presley performs in an Armed
Forces show in G.I. Blues.
Behind the Scenes of G.I. Blues
G.I. Blues marks the debut of the new Elvis Presley. Taking advantage of the good publicity Elvis received for serving his tour of duty in the Army, the Colonel launched a new, more clean-cut image for Elvis after his discharge. Film critics and movie magazines alike noticed the differences in Elvis’ image, including changes in his personal appearance and attire. Gone were the sideburns the press had found so offensive, and gone was the flashy, hip attire. The new look was more conservative -- befitting
As produced by Hal Wallis, G.I. Blues borrowed some details from Elvis’ personal life to flesh out his character,
The character of Tulsa MacLean is a
member of a tank division, just as
Presley himself was.
Elvis’ management team and the film’s production team also attempted to soften the singer’s screen image. His character is older and more mature, and in one sequence he sings "Wooden Heart" to a group of children at a puppet show; in another he baby-sits an infant.
Other notable differences included toning down Elvis’ controversial performing style in hopes of capturing a family audience, not just teenage fans. In G.I. Blues, Elvis no longer swung his hips when he sang, long-legged costar Juliet Prowse did it for him. Even though some of the songs in G.I. Blues are fast-paced, they lack the hard-driving sound, emotional delivery, and sexual connotations of his pre-Army recordings. "Mean Woman Blues" had given way to "Pocketful of Rainbows."
A great deal of publicity was generated during the production of G.I. Blues, much of it designed to showcase the new Elvis. Visiting dignitaries from other countries were paraded through the set at a rapid rate. Elvis met the King and Queen of Nepal as well as Princess Margrethe of Denmark, Princess Astrid of Norway, and Princess Margaretha of
The changes in terms of image and film genre do not mean that G.I. Blues was an inferior film, which many Presley biographers have implied. It remains a well-crafted musical comedy with a number of solid songs and a strong female costar. The only negative result of the film was that Elvis would be discouraged from making other types of movies. G.I. Blues is considered the prototype for the other Presley musicals, which, unfortunately, declined in quality as the decade progressed.
|Cast of G.I. Blues|
|Sergeant McGraw||Arch Johnson|
|Captain Hobart||John Hudson|
|Papa Mueller||Fred Essler|
|Puppet Show Owner||Ludwig Stossel|
|Musicians||Scotty Moore and DJ. |
Songs Featured in G.I. Blues
- What’s She Really Like
- G.I. Blues
- Doin’ the Best I Can
- Shoppin’ Around
- Tonight Is So Right for Love
- Wooden Heart
- Pocketful of Rainbows
- Big Boots
- Didja Ever
Credits for G.I. Blues
- Paramount Pictures
- Produced by Hal B. Wallis
- Directed by Norman Taurog
- Screenplay by Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson
- Photographed in Technicolor by Loyal Griggs
- Music by Joseph J. Lilley
- Vocal accompaniment by The Jordanaires
- Choreography by Charles O’Curran
November 23, 1960
To learn more about Elvis Presley, see: