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Elvis Presley Movies

G.I. Blues

Elvis in G.I. Blues
Elvis Presley performs in an Armed
Forces show in G.I. Blues.

In G.I. Blues, his first musical comedy, Elvis Presley stars as lady-killer Tulsa MacLean, an Army sergeant stationed in West Germany. Tulsa and his buddies hope to make enough money to open a small nightclub upon their return to civilian life. At the urging of his pals, Tulsa accepts a bet with a group of G.I.s to win the heart of Lili, a beautiful cabaret dancer at the Cafe Europa. Lili, played by dancer Juliet Prowse, has a reputation for resisting soldiers, so Tulsa’s finesse with females is required to break through her cool exterior.

Just as Tulsa realizes that he is in love with Lili, she finds out that she has been the target of a wager. Lili manages to overcome her anger to help Tulsa out during a troublesome night of babysitting for a friend’s infant son. At a rehearsal for an Armed Forces show, Lili discovers that Tulsa has called off the bet, proving he truly loves her.

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 Hollywood’s latest leading man.

As produced by Hal Wallis, G.I. Blues borrowed some details from Elvis’ personal life to flesh out his character, Tulsa MacLean. This was nothing new for Wallis and his production team. They had used a similar strategy in Elvis’ pre-Army features, particularly Loving You but also in King Creole. The intent was to attract Elvis’ legion of fans who were already familiar with Elvis’ life. In G.I. Blues, Tulsa MacLean is an entertainer soon to be released from the Army. Tulsa is stationed in West Germany and is a member of a tank division, just as Elvis had been.


Elvis Ready to Work in G.I. Blues
The character of Tulsa MacLean is a
member of a tank division, just as
Presley himself was.

Despite borrowing tidbits from Elvis’ own life, the film differed a great deal from the singer’s previous efforts. The major change was in terms of genre: His pre-Army films had been musical dramas; G.I. Blues was a musical comedy. His pre-Army films were based on previously published novels or stories; G.I. Blues was specifically written for the screen and followed a simpler, more formulaic story structure.

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 Sweden. Elvis met so many foreign notables during the film’s production that he had difficulty getting the protocol straight. He once asked, "Is this another of those highness deals?"

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
Tulsa MacLeanElvis Presley
LiliJuliet Prowse
CookeyRobert Ivers
Leticia Roman
James Douglas
Sigrid Maier
Sergeant McGraw Arch Johnson
Mickey Knox
Captain Hobart
John Hudson
Ken Becker
Jeremy Slate
Beach Dickerson
Trent Dolan
Carl Crow
Papa Mueller
Fred Essler
Ronald Starr
Erika Peters
Puppet Show Owner
Ludwig Stossel
Scotty Moore and DJ. Fontana

Songs Featured in G.I. Blues

  • What’s She Really Like
  • G.I. Blues
  • Doin’ the Best I Can
  • Frankfort Special
  • 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
  • Released November 23, 1960

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