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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
Dolby Vision
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
German Dolby 1.0
French Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/15/22

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian James L. Neibaur
• Photo Scrapbook
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Blue Hawaii (Paramount Presents Edition) [4K UHD] (1961)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 14, 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 B/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Blue Hawaii appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though a little erratic, this Dolby Vision image usually came across as a pleasing presentation.

Sharpness varied but generally worked fine. A few somewhat soft shots materialized but most of the movie sported appealing resolution, and a lot of the iffier elements stemmed from the source.

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

Grain clearly came with some reduction/management, but this didn’t seem severe. In particular, opticals showed the most obvious use of these techniques, but otherwise the grain felt reasonably natural.

Colors worked nicely. The tropical setting came with a mix of vibrant hues, and abetted by HDR, the disc made these appear vivid and full.

Blacks were fairly deep and dark, while shadows displayed appropriate clarity. HDR added range and impact to whites and contrast. While somewhat inconsistent, I largely liked what I saw here.

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.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the simultaneously released Blu-ray? Both came with identical audio.

Though I assumed they came from the same master, I found the Dolby Vision 4K to offer clearly superior visuals. It came across as tighter, with more vibrant colors and a more stable feel. I wasn’t wild about the Blu-ray so the 4K turned into the clear winner.

No extras appear on the 4K but that included Blu-ray copy provides a few. 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 4K UHD brings generally good picture and blah audio along with a smattering of bonus features. Leave this one to Elvis diehards.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of BLUE HAWAII

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