This time of year, Elvis fans in the Northern Hemisphere appreciate anything that takes their mind off of cold air, snow and ice.
Enter one of Elvis’ fan-favorite movies: “Blue Hawaii.” The musical comedy was released 55 years ago this week, on November 22, 1961. This movie’s sun, sand and surf are the perfect cure for the winter blues.
“Blue Hawaii” sees the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as Chad, who has recently gotten out of the Army and is looking forward to some fun and romance the Aloha State. His mother, played by the great Angela Lansbury, wants him to take over the family business, but he’d much rather work as a tour guide for his girlfriend’s agency. The colorful, exotic locales, fabulous soundtrack and light-hearted storyline make this comedy one of Elvis’ most beloved films. It’s the first of three films he made in Hawaii, and just before shooting this film, Elvis performed a benefit show at the Bloch Arena.
“Blue Hawaii” was originally titled “Hawaiian Beach Boy.” The movie was filmed on Oahu and Kauai, and the famous wedding scene was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort Hotel on Kauai. The hotel was devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and it was further damaged by a fire in 2014. The hotel has since been demolished and owners hope to re-open a new hotel on the site in 2018.
“Blue Hawaii” was directed by Norman Taurog, who directed nine of Elvis’ films. Elvis would work with many of his “Blue Hawaii” co-stars in future films.
Joan Blackman, who stars as his leading lady Maile in “Blue Hawaii,” would also later team up with Elvis in “Kid Galahad.” Roland Winters starred in both “Blue Hawaii” and Elvis’ follow-up film, “Follow That Dream.” Pamela Austin appeared in both “Blue Hawaii” and “Kissin’ Cousins.” Howard McNear played Mr. Chapman in this film and would also star in “Follow That Dream” and “Fun in Acapulco.” Actor Steve Brodie played a troublemaker in three Elvis movies: “Blue Hawaii,” “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and “Roustabout.” Guy Lee starred in both this film and “Girls! Girls! Girls,” and Richard Reeves had small parts in five Elvis films: “Blue Hawaii,” “Girl Happy,” “Tickle Me,” “Frankie and Johnny” and “Harum Scarum.”
“Blue Hawaii” features the most songs in an Elvis film with 14 tracks. The “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack spent 79 weeks on the Billboard charts, with 20 of those weeks at #1. The soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1961 for Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television. The soundtrack features many fan favorite tracks, like “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song” and, of course, the title track.
“Blue Hawaii” was incredibly successful, but it was not the highest-grossing Elvis movie. That honor goes to “Viva Las Vegas.”
Still, “Blue Hawaii” is a fan favorite. Tell us – do you have a favorite song from this movie? A favorite scene or favorite line of dialogue? Share it with us!
And don’t forget, you can dive into Elvis’ Hollywood career with our VIP exhibit, “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man.” Make your plans to visit Graceland.