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Norman Taurog
Elvis Presley, Angela Lansbury, Joan Blackman
Writing Credits:
Hal Kanter

After arriving back in Hawaii from the Army, Chad Gates defies his parents' wishes for him to work at the family business and instead goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend's agency.

Rated NR.


Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby 1.0
German Dolby 1.0
French Dolby 1.0
Spanish Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/15/22
Available Only With Blue Hawaii 4K UHD

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian James L. Neibaur
• Photo Scrapbook
• Trailer
• 4K UHD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Blue Hawaii (Paramount Presents Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1961)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 9, 2022)

Summer 2022’s hit biopic Elvis skirted over Elvis Presley’s time as a 1960s movie star. That turned into a major part of his career, though, and 1961’s Blue Hawaii lets us see his biggest hit from that period.

After he finishes his stint in the US military, Chad Gates (Presley) returns home to Hawaii. There he reunites with his parents Fred and Sarah (Roland Waters and Angela Lansbury), both of whom expect him to take over the family fruit business.

However, Chad enjoys his own ideas about his future, as he prefers to hang out with his girlfriend Maile Duval (Joan Blackman) and work as a tour guide. Chad deals with these competing demands and attempts to sort out his future.

In the aforementioned 2022 Elvis, the film opines that Elvis’s “Hollywood Period” existed as the nadir of his career – or close to it. We get the impression that Elvis worked as an actor to the extreme detriment of his music.

Presley’s stint as a top star would suffer pretty badly in the wake of the Beatles-led British Invasion, but as of 1961, he remained top of the charts. The movie’s soundtrack spent a whopping 20 weeks at number one, and it spawned a legit Elvis classic with the hit single “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. The movie itself sold buckets of tickets as well.

Nonetheless, Hawaii shows Presley’s further departure from the music that made him famous. Rather than come across as the dangerous rocker of the 1950s, the Elvis of Hawaii seems safe as milk.

Oh, Hawaii tries to paint Chad as a “bad boy” - briefly. For instance, when he gets off the plane, he smooches with a flight attendant to make Maile jealous, and he soon sings a song about how he was “almost always” faithful to her.

Despite these token efforts to give Chad a feisty sheen, the film undercuts them. Presley goofs it up so much in the role that it becomes difficult to view Chad as anything other than a silly dope.

Actually, the movie abandons any glimpses of a risqué Chad quickly. After Elvis croons how he didn’t cheat on Maile too much, he loses virtually all of his minor edge and feels like a different character, one without any spark at all.

The songs don’t help. “Almost Always True” sets the low bar via its light vibe, and Elvis never reminds us of his reputation as a sexy rocker.

Cripes, the movie neuters Elvis so much that it forces him to utter endless repetitions of “hello dere”, the catchphrase of bug-eyed comedian Marty Allen. How far the King fell.

Not that Hawaii offers much beyond Elvis, as the movie itself feels flimsy as can be. When the Beatles made A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, it revolutionized the formula for films with rock stars because it showed intelligence and wit.

In other words, Night existed as a movie in its own right. Like too many of Elvis’s projects, though, Hawaii gives us nothing more than fluffy product.

And dull product at that, as Hawaii never threatens to come with any charm or life. The filmmakers apparently thought that the combo of Elvis and Hawaiian landscapes would do a lot of to the heavy lifting, so they didn’t both with a script that went anywhere in terms of plot and characters.

Perhaps that was enough for undemanding Elvis fans circa 1961. None of this makes for an entertaining movie, though.

Hawaii can’t even use its hit song right. Oddly, it uses the romantic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” as Chad’s good-natured ode to Maile’s grandmother.

And Hawaii tosses in a woefully miscast Lansbury as a ditzy aging Southern belle, too! Hawaii offers the piffliest of piffle.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Blue Hawaii appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not bad, this felt like an inconsistent presentation.

As happens with some Paramount releases, grain became a concern, as it seemed oddly inconsistent. Daylight scenes offered strangely heavy grain but low-light interiors – which naturally “go grainy” – were mostly devoid of that element.

Did the grain in Hawaii represent the source? Perhaps, but it seemed off, as the levels didn’t follow patterns I expected and could seem iffy.

Sharpness also varied. Parts of the movie showed nice delineation but others became oddly soft. Most of the film appeared pretty well-defined, but these inconsistencies occurred.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Like other aspects of the image, colors were up and down. Given the tropical setting, I expected bright, dynamic hues, and I sometimes got them.

However, the tones could also seem oddly flat at times. The colors looked good more often than they came across as a little dull, but they didn’t boast the consistent impact I anticipated.

Blacks were fairly deep and dark, while shadows displayed appropriate clarity. The movie remains watchable and perhaps the source left this as the best it could look, but I felt disappointed by the erratic visuals.

The movie’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack didn’t seem bad but it also didn’t do much for me. Remixed from the original monaural – which appears on the disc via lossy Dolby Digital – the soundscape seemed inconsistent.

Rather than create a sense of space and involvement, the audio tended to offer “broad mono”. This meant elements largely focused on the front center, without a lot beyond that. Occasional elements popped up elsewhere – like cars that moved from one side of the spectrum to another - but the whole shebang felt awfully limited.

The score and songs usually showed a lack of real stereo presence. The music tended to spread across the front without a lot of separation.

Audio quality seemed decent for its age, at least. Speech could sound somewhat reedy, but the lines felt intelligible and without obvious flaws.

Effects fell into the same realm, as they showed decent accuracy and didn’t suffer from too much distortion. The songs and score offered acceptable reproduction, though not especially vivid. This turned into a mediocre soundtrack.

Note that Hawaii makes its Blu-ray debut here, but with a hitch: the BD version comes as part of a package with a 4K UHD disc as well. Because the BD cannot be purchased on its own, normally I wouldn’t review it in this way, but since this marks the movie’s first time on the format, I figured it deserved its own discussion.

After all, I suspect Paramount believes that plenty of BD-only customers will buy this release just to get the Blu-ray version. I will review the 4K separately as well.

The disc’s only major extra comes from an audio commentary with film historian James L. Neibaur. He provides a running, screen-specific look at aspects of Elvis Presley’s movie career, cast and crew, score and songs, Hawaiian sets, story/characters, production notes and the film’s reception.

On the negative side, Neibaur goes MIA too often, so expect occasional gaps. Otherwise he fills the flick with a nice view of the various topics and gives us an informative chat.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we end with a Photo Scrapbook. It includes 77 elements that mix production shots and publicity stills. It becomes a pretty good compilation.

When people think poorly on how Elvis Presley developed in the 1960s, fluffy nonsense like Blue Hawaii exists as Exhibit A. Packed with tame romance, tepid songs and lousy comedy, the movie turns into a complete stinker. The Blu-ray brings inconsistent picture and audio along with a smattering of bonus features. Leave this one to Elvis diehards.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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