Blue Hawaii is the reason why Becket got made. Focus on that, rather than Angela Lansbury playing Elvis’s mother.
I put that there as a preface because of our younger readers’ inability to understand that history didn’t begin with their birth and the social standards they love to espouse. Yes, we’re proud of you for being good people. But, people used to smoke a lot more, women didn’t have it so good and Elvis was white. I’m sure if he didn’t die on the toilet
As Elvis moved into the 1960s, the films didn’t change much
Elvis Presley was fresh out of the military and trying to get his movie career back on track. The result was Producer Hal Wallis trying to find the right vehicles very fast. Leading off the late 50s successes, he wanted the early half of the 1960s to have big cinematic bows. And they were for awhile, but many changes and adaptations had to be made to get Blue Hawaii to play.
What’s surprising about Blue Hawaii on modern viewings is how stilted the concept feels. Basically, Elvis is their heir apparent to a Fruit Company, but his mom doesn’t want him to marry an Island girl. The problem with that is Elvis is madly in love and wanting to leave the family business for her. It’s pretty crazy, but also very predictable.
I will never not be fascinated by Elvis as a cultural concept
When watching Baz Luhrmann’s recent Elvis for the fifth time, something hit me. Most modern viewers don’t know how to approach Elvis. Basically, he’s two people in one. The cultural icon who has become a God of Pop Culture. And, then there’s the low-rent redneck from the Memphis ghetto who allows Colonel Tom Parker and Sun Records to make black music for the lily white crowds.
While that effort dotted most of the 1950s, the real money was in film and mass media. For every movie where Little Richard played fifth banana ala The Girl Can’t Help It, you could slap Elvis into anything. Whether it was King Creole or Clambake, America had never seen a pop star that can be molded into whatever you need that season or year.
Blue Hawaii is pretty disposable outside of being the debut of Can’t Help Falling in Love. That being said, I still feel like we have to include Blue Hawaii in the bigger looks we take at Elvis and American cinema in the early 1960s. Keep that in mind when you check out the movie on 4K UHD for the first time. If we see enough demand, we’ll include it in a larger Elvis retrospective which may or may not be in the wings.
What it means to bring classic cinema into the 4K UHD era
I have mixed feelings about Paramount 4Ks in 2022. While I thoroughly didn’t enjoy the ‘corrections’ made to War of the Worlds 4K UHD or some of the technical issues on Escape from LA. I have enjoyed the sheer earnest efforts to make releases for everything from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence to Event Horizon. But, why am I so gung-ho about seeing these classic cinema works getting releases?
Well, because it’s becoming impossible for the majority of Pre-2000 films to get treated fairly in the economic age of streaming. There is a degree of knowing your audience, but there has also been a lot of putting your thumb on the scale to get the results you want. The heavy Criterion influence on the recent Sight and Sound Decade List wasn’t a rarity, but more of a sign of recent maladies.
Whenever I see an older get a 4K UHD release with stunning A/V Quality like this with a clean 2160p transfer and period amplifying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, I’m supportive. Blue Hawaii comes to 4K UHD with only a commentary, scrapbook and trailer. But, I appreciate any effort at supplemental material.