Musical Monday: G.I. Blues (1960)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
G.I. Blues (1960) – Musical #347

GI Blues

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Juliet Prowse, Robert Ivers, James Douglas, Letícia Román, Sigrid Maier, Arch Johnson, Edison Stroll (uncredited)

Plot:
Tulsa McLean (Presley) is in the Army and dreams of opening up a nightclub in Oklahoma with his buddies (Ivers, Douglas), but all they need is money. When the outfit is transferred to Germany, a bet is made that a romantic sergeant nicknamed Dynamite (Stroll) can romance nightclub dancer Lili (Prowse), someone who other military personnel have failed with. When Dynamite is transferred, Tulsa reluctantly takes the job because he needs the money. However, Tulsa has a guilty conscience and also falls in love with Lili.

Trivia:
• Elvis Presley’s first movie after serving in the U.S. Army for two years. This was his first film since 1958 and his fifth film.
• The first film Norman Taurog directed Elvis Presley in. Taurog directed Presley in eight movies with the last one in 1968.
•Juliet Prowse’s second film.
• Juliet Prowse was dubbed by Loulie Jean Norman in the song “Pocketful of Rainbows.”
• Only film of Sigrid Maier.
• The U.S. Department of Defense worked with Paramount Pictures on the film; allowing them to shoot footage in West Germany.
• Ursula Andress, May Britt and Elke Sommer were all considered for the role of Lili.
• The songs written for the film “Tulsa’s Blues” and “Dog Face” were deleted from the film.
• Working titles were “Café Europa” and “Christmas in Berlin”

GI Blues4

Juliet Prowse and Elvis Presley breaking the fourth wall in G.I. Blues.

Highlights:
• When a soldier puts a quarter in a jukebox while Elvis is singing, and there’s a close up on the song picked and it’s “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley
• Juliet Prowse’s dance numbers
• Elvis Presley singing with a puppet

GI Blues5

Notable Songs:
• “Frankfurt Special” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Doin’ the Best I Can” performed by Elvis Presley

My review:
In his first film in two years after serving in the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley just looks like he is enjoying acting in films again in G.I. BLUES (1960).

After his moody late-1950s films, like KING CREOLE, this was Presley’s first musical comedy, which he continued making for much of his career.

To capitalize on his recent military career, the film follows Tulsa (Presley) who is trying to save money to open in Oklahoma when his Army stint ends. Another one of his Army pals gets involved in a “thawing out an iceberg” bet with a nightclub dancer, Lili (Prowse). The bet is that he can stay all night with her. When the pal is sent somewhere else, Tulsa reluctantly takes the task so he can earn the money for his nightclub. While Tulsa feels guilty about the task, he also starts to fall in love with Lili.

Lately, the Elvis Presley movies I have watched are his late-career films. In those later film roles, Elvis seems bored and like he’s going through the motions of yet another formulaic musical.

But revisiting G.I. BLUES (1960) for the first time in several years, I saw a version of Elvis, I hadn’t watched in a while. Still early in his film career in just his fifth film, Elvis shows off his charisma and charm to the hilt. While singing, he acts out the lyrics, makes facial expressions, and dances with smooth rhythm. He’s funny, adorable and looks like he’s enjoying himself.

I haven’t seen Juliet Prowse in many films, but I loved watching her dance numbers.

The plot of G.I. BLUES (1960) is questionable. A bet to stay all night with a girl? That’s rather gross. But somehow you forget about it while Elvis and Juliet Prowse explore Germany — with footage of Germany in the rear projection of their adventures. The footage was taken for the film, but Elvis was filmed in Hollywood.

There’s also a cute number of Elvis singing with a puppet, and you get to see Elvis with a baby. While Elvis and a baby is cute, I have to admit my heart broke for the crying baby. Anytime a baby or child is sobbing on screen, I always wonder what was done to that child to make them cry though.

GI Blues3

BLUE HAWAII is my favorite Elvis film, but G.I. BLUES is a fun one.

There’s no denying that Elvis had talent outside of his singing, and he could have been a great actor, had he been put in other roles. G.I. BLUES (1960) (and later, BLUE HAWAII) show that and that he was a great comedian. Recognizing that makes you appreciate these films a bit more.

GI Blues2

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