For the first eight years after Elvis returned from the army, he made movies and records but did no live performances.
I featured his first four movies in an earlier blog post, so the following four movies are next…
G.I. Blues 1960
About: Elvis plays Tulsa McLean, an army tank crewman from Texas whose dream is to open his own nightclub with his buddies, who are part of his singing act. On leave in Germany, he places a bet with his fellow soldiers that he can spend an entire night with ‘ice princess’ a hard to get entertainer played by Juliet Prowse.
Side notes: The 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armored was Elvis’ regiment when he was in the Army with the 3rd Armored Division in Germany, so it was used for the film. Also, just my opinion, Juliet Prowse was not nearly pretty enough to play the role of a sought after beauty who turned Elvis’ world upside down.
My favorite song from the movie: ‘The Best I Can’ (I know, it’s odd. I don’t usually like the ‘mainstream’ popular songs as much as I do the lesser known ones)
One of my favorite scenes: Early in the movie, Tulsa is on stage singing and a guy goes over to a jukebox and the camera shows, in the window of the jukebox, ‘Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley’ and the guy (we’ll call him ‘first guy’) hits the button and Elvis’ Blue Suede Shoes begins playing while Tulsa/Elvis is performing. Another guy in the club says “Hey turn that off, the kid’s singing.”
First guy: “I want to hear the original.”
Second guy: “Turn that off.”
First guy: “Turn Tulsa off.”
A scuffle breaks out and Elvis goes up to First guy who is snapping his fingers to the song. Elvis snaps along with him for moment, then punches him and a brawl ensues.
Ha! He punches the guy for playing HIS song. 🙂 Love it.
Flaming Star 1960
About: Elvis plays Pacer Burton, a half breed Indian who is pulled between his white blood and his Indian blood. When a neighboring family is massacred by the Indians, hostility and mistrust among friends causes trouble for Pacer and his family.
This movie took me by surprise. I mean, I’d seen it before, quite a few times, but not in years and years. I didn’t remember loving it as much as I did this time. It was a well-acted, moving, and intense western. Elvis did an excellent job in the role. I cried, a lot. Very sad and emotional. I highly recommend it.
Side note: Elvis was inducted into the Los Angeles Indian Tribal Council for his role in the movie. Barbara Eden co-starred, but she was actually the love interest of Elvis’ brother. The movie poster is misleading.
My favorite song from the movie: Elvis actually only sang one song in this movie, ‘Cane and a High-Starched Collar.’ Not exactly one of his best, so I’ll have to go with the title song, ‘Flaming Star’ (which was originally recorded as ‘Black Star’ and Elvis had to go in and re-record, replacing ‘black’ with ‘flaming’)
A couple of my favorite scenes:
There is a scene where Pacer’s mother has been shot and she needs a doctor. Due to the new hostility against Pacer and his family, the doctor refuses to come home with him and treat her. The doctor’s little girl is playing outside (Pacer has known her her whole life). He grabs her up and tells her they’re going to play a game, but in reality, he is threatening her father that if he doesn’t come help his mother, he’ll hurt the child. Elvis does a great job of threatening the father while at the same time, comforting the child. He tells her, “Grownups don’t know how to play, do they?” She says, “This is a funny way to play, Pacer.” And Elvis says, “You know I won’t hurt you.”
Another scene I love is when he is fighting shirtless. What’s not to love, right? 🙂
Wild in the Country 1961
About: Elvis plays Glenn Tyler, a young man with a troubled past and an alcoholic father, who dreams of being a writer (pretty cool, right?). He beats up his brother (played by Elvis’ long-time friend, Red West) in the beginning of the movie and is sentenced to probation and ordered to weekly counseling sessions with Irene Sperry, played by Hope Lange. He also moves in with his uncle, who wants to marry him off to his daughter, a single mom and wild girl, played by Tuesday Weld. Elvis actually has three love interests in this movie, the third being his longtime girlfriend, played by Millie Perkins. Again, I cried in this movie. Elvis does a wonderful job in this role, and it’s very dramatic and moving.
Side notes: Millie Perkins broke her arm when she had to slap Elvis’ character. The scene was not used in the movie.
The film was originally not going to be a musical, but Colonel Parker insisted that Elvis sing. Millie Perkins claimed that Elvis was not pleased. In one scene where he has to sing while they’re driving along in a truck, she said that Elvis said, “God, this is embarrassing. People wouldn’t do this in real life.”
At the end of the movie, Hope Lange’s character, after rumors of an affair with Glenn and the threat of Glenn going to prison for murder, attempts to kill herself. In the original ending, she succeeds, but that was not received well, so it was changed.
Hope Lange played the ‘older woman’ Glenn fell in love with, but in actuality, Hope was only 13 months older than Elvis at the time.
And, finally, Christina Crawford, daughter of Joan Crawford and author of Mommie Dearest, played a small role in the movie.
My favorite song from the movie: ‘In My Way’ or ‘I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell’
One of my favorite scenes:
Glenn gets drunk and goes with Tuesday Weld to Irene Sperry’s house, demanding that she return his story to him. He ends up spraying down her porch with the water hose while shouting at her to give him his story back. . It’s a very cute scene, with a touching moment. He was so adorable.
In this video, clips from the movie are shown while the title track from the movie plays:
Elvis and Tuesday Weld, who he briefly dated:
Blue Hawaii 1961
About: Elvis plays Chad Gates, who has just returned to his home in Hawaii after two years in the army. His wealthy parents want him to join the family pineapple business, but Chad wants to be independent and he takes a job as a tour guide.
This movie was one of Elvis’ most popular, but it wasn’t one of my favorites, strangely enough. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but not as much as I did many of his others. I think it was partly because I wasn’t crazy about the music in the movie (even though the soundtrack spent 20 straight weeks at #1 on Billboard’s top LP’s and was Elvis’ most successful album) Yeah, I just don’t usually seem to go with the opinion of the masses. Also, there was no romantic conflict. He returned home to his girlfriend and they were together in the entire movie, with a few minor road bumps along the way. Joan Blackman played his love interest, and she was gorgeous.
Side notes: At the beginning of the movie, Chad is deplaning and if you listen carefully and turn up the volume, you can hear hundreds of screaming fans who were watching the shoot.
Angela Lansbury played Elvis’ mother, but she was actually only nine years older than him.
My favorite song from the movie: ‘Almost Always True’ or ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’
One of my favorite scenes:
Probably this scene where he’s singing Slicin’ Sand – He’s wearing these tight, white shorts and his body looks amazing, and it shows his fabulous butt. 🙂