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Elvis Presley Movies

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii, a musical comedy originally tided Beach Boy, became the most successful film of Elvis Presley’s career. Elvis stars as Chad Gates, whose wealthy family owns a successful pineapple plantation in Hawaii, At the beginning of the film, Chad has just returned from the Army, and his family is eager for him to pursue the family business. Instead, Chad lands a job as a guide in the tourist agency where girlfriend Maile, played by Joan Blackman, also works.

His new vocation not only allows him to use his knowledge of the Islands’ most beautiful sites but also affords him enough time to cavort on the beach with his native Hawaiian buddies. Tension mounts as Chad’s blue-blooded mother, played by Angela Lansbury, objects to his job, his girlfriend, and his beach-loving friends. Chad eventually proves a success in the tourist business, and he finally wins the approval of his family by marrying Maile and making plans to open his own tourist agency.

Elvis and Girls in Blue Hawaii
Elvis and a troupe of ukelele-playing beauties pose during the making
of Blue Hawaii.

Behind the Scenes of Blue Hawaii

Much of Blue Hawaii was filmed on location in America’s 50th state, which had only joined the union in 1959. The new state of Hawaii was as eager for the exposure in a major Hollywood film as the producers and actors were to shoot there. Such beautiful Hawaiian locations as Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Park, Lydgate Park, and the Coco Palms Resort Hotel were used in the film; also used were such unglamorous locations as the Honolulu jail.

Despite working primarily on location, the producers experienced only minor problems. The first occurred just prior to shooting. Juliet Prowse, who had been Elvis’ costar in the successful G.I. Blues, was cast opposite Elvis in the role of Maile Duval. She was loaned to Paramount from Twentieth Century-Fox for the film. Eleven days before filming was to begin in Hawaii, Prowse declared that she was not going to report to work until three demands were met. Prowse wanted her Fox makeup man to do her makeup, she wanted the traveling expenses of her secretary to be paid by the producers, and she wanted a change made in her contract regarding her billing. Wallis replaced Prowse with the lesser known Joan Blackman.

Elvis in Blue Hawaii
In his musical comedies, Elvis often
broke into song at anytime, a
characteristic that he hated about
his films.

Shooting on location was always a problem when Elvis was the star of a film because increased security was necessary to protect him from fans. When Elvis arrived in Honolulu, thousands of fans nearly broke down the barricades before the singer was whisked to his hotel. Since mobs waited around his hotel daily, security guards were on duty around the clock.

Elvis was disappointed that he could not visit the sites, and he often looked out his window to watch others strolling along the beach. One morning he saw a heartfelt message written in the sand by the very fans he needed to be protected from. Elvis was touched by the simple message: "We love you, Elvis!"

One minor incident that caused an unnecessary delay was actually the fault of Colonel Parker. Rain moved in on the location one day, causing the crew to wait hours for a break in the weather. The rain finally stopped, and just as director Taurog was able to roll camera on Elvis running out of the surf, Parker rushed in front of the camera yelling, "Cut, cut!" Proper etiquette on the set maintains that only the director can stop the action. Hal Wallis and Taurog were furious and demanded to know what could be important enough for Parker to halt the shot.

The Colonel slyly pointed out that Elvis was wearing his own watch during the scene. The contract spelled out that Elvis was to provide no part of his wardrobe, including jewelry. If Taurog wanted to keep any part of the shot that had just been done, Wallis and Paramount would have to pay Elvis an extra $25,000. Taurog asked Elvis to remove his watch, and the shot was redone. Why the Colonel pulled this power play is not known.

The success of Blue Hawaii sealed Elvis’ fate in terms of his film career. Though Flaming Star and Wild in the Country had not lost money, neither had they set the box office afire. The Colonel used the box-office grosses of Blue Hawaii to convince Elvis that his fans preferred him in musical comedies.

Cast of Blue Hawaii
Chad Gates Elvis Presley
Maile DuvalJoan Blackman
Sarah Lee GatesAngela Lansbury
Abigail PrenticeNancy Walters
Fred Gates
Roland Winters
Jack KelmanJohn Archer
Mr. Chapman
Howard McNear
Tucker Garvey
Steve Brodie
Enid Garvey
Iris Adrian
WaihilaHilo Hattie
Ellie Corbett
Jennie Maxwell
Selena Emerson Pamela Kirk
Patsy Simon
Darlene Tompkins
Beverly Martin
Christian Kay
Carl Tanami
Lani Kai
Ernie Gordon
Jose Devega
Ito O'Hara
Frank Atienza
Wes Moto
Ralph (Tiki) Hanalei
Party Guest
Red West

Songs Featured in Blue Hawaii

  • Blue Hawaii
  • Almost Always True
  • Aloha Oe
  • No More
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Rock-a-Hula Baby
  • Moonlight Swim
  • Ku-u-i-Po
  • Ito Ears
  • Slicin’ Sand
  • Hawaiian Sunset
  • Beach Boy Blues
  • Island of Love (Kauai)
  • Hawaiian Wedding Song

Credits for Blue Hawaii

  • Paramount Pictures
  • Produced by Hal B. Wallis
  • Directed by Norman Taurog
  • Screenplay by Hal Kanter
  • Photographed in Technicolor and Panavision by Charles Lang, Jr.
  • Music by Joseph J. Lilley
  • Vocal accompaniment by The Jordanaires
  • Choreography by Charles O’Curran
  • Released November 22, 1961

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