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  Blue Hawaii Pineapple Hunk
Year: 1961
Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Nancy Walters, Roland Winters, John Archer, Howard McNear, Steve Brodie, Christian Kay, Iris Adrian, Hilo Hattie, Jenny Maxwell, Pamela Austin, Darlene Tompkins, Lani Kai, Jose De Vega, Frank Atienza
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Maile Duval (Joan Blackman) is speeding her sports car along a Hawaii highway when the local traffic cop catches sight of her and gives chase, siren wailing. She stops, but has an excuse for him that her boyfriend Chad (Elvis Presley) is finally returning from his stint in the U.S. Army and she wants to meet him at the airport since his plane is about to land. The cop relents and offers to accompany her, and so it is that she makes it in time - in time to see Chad in the arms of an air stewardess, that is, which puts her in a huff. But he's such a smoothie that on descending the stairs he has won her over with a kiss of her own...

Although there were two Elvis vehicles released between G.I. Blues and Blue Hawaii, it was significant that the King of Rock 'n' Roll should be seen in an apparent linking device for the end of the former and the beginning of the latter, because it was really these two, this one especially, set the template for the sixties movies the star would be making. Place him in a glamorous location (the wonders of back projection!), have him sing a few tunes, romance his leading lady with a complication or two before the happy resolution, and you had the ideal entertainment for the fans who simply wanted to see their idol in action for ninety minutes.

This was his first Hawaii movie, a location that quickly became a favourite of his in real life, apparently because his manager Colonel Tom Parker refused to allow his star to travel outside the United States since the rather dodgy Parker wouldn't have been allowed back in the country if he did, and there was no way he was going to let Presley go on his own. Therefore Hawaii was as good as going abroad as it would get for him, and he made regular visits there for the rest of his life, with his concert Aloha from Hawaii one of the biggest television audience grabbers of its era. The thing is, you might expect the movie that started it all to be pretty small beer.

And it was in its way, but also you could understand why Elvis had become so enamoured of the place because it really came across well here, lovingly photographed in bright Technicolor and presenting it as the perfect getaway from all you troubles, which this film was too in its fashion. The plot was something you could quite easily not notice at all, so slight was it, but basically Chad wants to make a life for himself away from his wealthy parents' pineapple production company (lots of pineapple related business in this), so in keeping with the holiday theme he sets himself up as a kind of holiday rep with an existing operator (Howard McNear, who Elvis appears genuinely amused by).

In a development which seems set up for a bunch of leering innuendo, the first job he is assigned to is a teacher and her charges, asked at one point if he thinks he can satisfy a schoolteacher and four teenage girls, a line which has provoked titters ever since. Anyway, he is more than capable, and takes them to that pineapple picking operation (of course) where it turns out one of the girls (Jenny Maxwell) is a troubled teen who is determined not to get on with anybody until she takes a shine to Chad; the manner in which he sets her on the right path in life is truly mindboggling (and not what you might have expected). Meanwhile, Elvis croons at the drop of a hat, including favourites such as Rock-A-Hula Baby and Can't Help Falling in Love, which he offputtingly sings to Maile's grandmother when it's one of the most romantic hits he ever had and would have been better sung to his leading lady. Angela Lansbury flutters her way through scenes as Chad's snobbish mother, and Maile is described as half white to get over any conservative (i.e. racist) problems. Quaint stuff, but as warm and breezy as Hawaiian summer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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