G.I. Blues

August 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

All this time I was heaping the blame for the turn Elvis’s career took on Blue Hawaii, it turns out that G.I. Blues deserves at least half the blame. Intending to capitalize on Elvis’s leaving the army in 1960, it was filmed almost immediately upon his return to the states and released some six months later. With Elvis as a singer-serviceman stationed in Germany who pursues a nightclub dancer–initially because of a bet, later because he starts falling for her–the film establishes a number of what will later become conventions of the Elvis Film:

  • Exotic setting, although the beaches are conspicuously missing here
  • Elvis is in the military
  • Elvis plans to become his own man after leaving the army, by opening a nightclub in his hometown
  • Elvis holds a combination singer-_____ job
  • Women can’t resist him, naturally
  • The obligatory bar fight
  • Elvis beats his rival in a competition–although contrary to later examples, this isn’t a physical competition but a girl-getting competition, as he wins a bet by snagging the girl that’s hard to get

While Elvis would go on to more serious acting roles after G.I. Blues, like Flaming Star and Wild in the Country, the box office returns were lower than they’d been for G.I. Blues, which prompted a re-evaluation of what had made Blues so successful . . . and led to another Blue movie, this time set in Hawaii.

Note: Today being the anniversary of Elvis’s death, you can catch his films on TCM all day. The concert doc Elvis on Tour kicks off the headliners, followed by Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, starting at 8 EST.

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