G.I. BLUES—-with star Elvis Presley emerging from a two-year stint in the Army, it was natural for publicity and box-office to cast him in a musical spinoff of his khaki days. A month after he mustered out (he’d been in Germany with the 3rd Armored Division), filming commenced, directed by Norman Taurog, ultimately
to blame responsible for nine lazy Presley pix over eight years (though the real culprit was The King’s uber-controlling manager Col.Parker). The 5th Elvis movie, this set the template for two dozen more, and it already has him toned down (neutered, to be harsh) from his early wildness into a family-friendly pop money-machine—to his chagrin and detriment, emotionally and artistically. His handlers rubbed hands raw with greed glee.
The attractive backgrounds were lensed in Germany, with the star matched in via process shots. A sizable hit (#14 of 1960, striking $9,460,000), with added sexiness from Fraulein Juliet Prowse, boasting two of the finest legs of the 20th century. * Semi-risqué plot has El betting his buddies he can unfreeze ‘Ice Queen’ nightclub minx Juliet and spend the night with her (talking about life on the base?).** Dated, dimwitted but harmless jokes and OK tunes, including “Wooden Heart”, a cute ditty which Presley sings to a puppet—the irony makes your teeth ache (the LP album was a bestseller). Curiosity was such that the filming was swarmed with visiting royalty keen to bow to The King: princesses of Sweden, Denmark and Norway and the King and Queen of Thailand (“hey, Uncle Sam we could use some bases..”) .
104 minutes, with Robert Ivers, James Douglas, Leticia Roman, Scotty Moore, Arch Johnson, The Jordanaires, Mickey Knox, Jeremy Slate and Ludwig Stossel.
*24 in her first lead, the statuesque 5’11” South African dancer had a brief fling with the swivel hipster before she moved on to a temporary engagement with Frank Sinatra—no fan of the usurper. Later in 1960, she kicked Can-Can out from under Frank and Shirley MacLaine and outraged a visiting Nikita Khrushchev, so she’s pretty much a class act from the get-go.
**Sociologist spoilsports of Screen Sexcapades enjoy snitting that the plotline of American soldiers partying on garrison duty in Germany shows chauvinism or at least a lack of taste (they should breathe easy that it wasn’t set in Thailand or The Philippines–cough-cough). This churl churn may win some chess move in the masochism arena, but the tut-tuts to propriety manage to casually overlook the #1 hobby of young straight men, in or out of uniform. Sure, in this case, it’s unlucky West Germany (uh, still chock with our troops six decades after this film, after reunification, 70 years after WW2–what the hell?) but it could be elsewhere–anywhere, considering the hundreds of overseas bases wielded by the Empire Of The Eagle. You just don’t see a lot of musical-comedies set in them: could “those people in other countries” be getting a wee tired of our exceptionalism? Aww, to heck with it, Red, it’s an Elvis movie, for cryin’ out loud….thang’yu…