Monday, July 25, 2022

#2,789. G.I. Blues (1960) - The Films of Elvis Presley


Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 and for a time served as a private in the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany. He was discharged two years later, and what better way to celebrate his return to Hollywood than by appearing in 1960’s G.I. Blues?

Spec5 Tulsa McLean (Presley) spends the days with his tank crew in Germany, and nights dreaming of becoming a singer and opening his own club. Needing money to make his dream a reality, he bets $300 that fellow soldier Dynamite (Edson Stroll) can win the heart of German dancer Lili (Juliet Prowse), a woman who has thus far rejected the advances of every American G.I.

When Dynamite is transferred to another base, Tulsa himself, urged on by his pals Cookie (Robert Ivers) and Rick (James Douglas), reluctantly agrees to stand in for Dynamite and woo the elusive Lili. Things go well at first, with Lili falling hard for Tulsa’s country charm, but the closer the two become, the more Tulsa’s conscious bothers him, and though he has developed feelings of his own for Lili, the guilty G.I. considers calling the whole romance off.

That’s about as trite a plot as you can get, but director Norman Taurog somehow pulls it off, delivering a fun, breezy musical romance. As for Presley, his performance as Tulsa was a definite step down from the fine turn he delivered in 1958’s King Creole, but fans were undoubtedly happy that his singing voice was as strong as ever. And while many of the songs he performs throughout G.I. Blues are forgettable, the film’s final two numbers, "Big Boots" (a lullaby he sings while babysitting for Rick’s son) and "Didja Ever" (the rousing finale performed in front of his entire battalion) are excellent.

As for the rest of the cast, Juliet Prowse is certainly an impressive dancer (she performs a couple of numbers during the movie), but only a so-so actress, while Robert Ivers (as the conniving Cookie) and Arch Johnson (as Master Sergeant McGraw, who keeps loaning money to Tulsa and rarely gets it back) are quite good in support. This, plus the beautiful technicolor footage of Germany (much of which was shot by Producer Hal Wallis while Elvis was still in the Army) make G.I. Blues an entertaining, if somewhat slight, entry in Elvis’s filmography.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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