Blue Hawaii

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/15/22;
Paramount;
$39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Gilbert Roland, Nancy Walters, John Archer, Jenny Maxwell, Howard McNear.

Why did they call it Blue Hawaii? It blew in Hawaii, it blew in Akron, it blew in Pacoima, it blew in Delaware, everywhere it opened it blew. Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl deserves credit for the line, but the joke is decidedly on us. It should come as no great shock that the Presley pictures to best withstand the test of time — Michael Curtiz’s King Creole, Don Siegel’s Flaming Star, and Phil Karlson’s Kid Galahad — reflect three rare occasions in the King’s career where he teamed with directors capable of producing something more than a camera nailed to the floor drearily canning his lip-synched pursuits. (I’m a fan of Gordon Douglas and George Marshall, but Follow That Dream and Viva Las Vegas are a safe distance from both directors’ pantheons.) Blue Hawaii, Elvis’ eighth vehicle, was such a box office smash that it became standard boilerplate stuff for Col. Tom Parker, a formula for box office gold he applied to every campy money-grab that followed.

Parker’s model for success was just slightly more sophisticated than the rudimentary stories he personally selected for his star. A glamorous and/or one-of-a-kind location (Acapulco, the World’s Fair, Las Vegas) was a must. His client needed as many interchangeable, scantily clad starlets as possible to act as eyeball massaging props. The soundtrack was to be padded with enough numbers to guarantee LP sales. With 15 tunes, Blue Hawaii more than tripled the number of songs found in his previous pictures. The album topped the charts for 20 consecutive weeks, but one would still be loath to call it a musical. At 102 minutes it plays like a series of songs occasionally interrupted by patches of dialog. 

What little story there is involves Chad Gates (Presley), a soldier in peacetime back from serving a 2-year stint with Uncle Sam. His ditzy Dixie Belle mother Sara Lee (Angela Lansbury) half wishes her boy was doing something constructive like bayonetting the enemy in combat rather than twiddling his thumbs on a military base. It’s her calling to see to it that Chad rubs elbows with the finer elements on the island. In his parents’ eyes, Chad’s future is a lifetime sentence in the family’s lucrative fruit company. The fiercely independent-minded Chad wants nothing to do with nepotism, refusing to be known as the boss’s son. And if mom has any say in it, the future Mrs. Chad Gates will be a wealthy socialite, not Maile (Joan Blackman), Chad’s pre-service gal pal he spent 5 days shacking up with before having the nerve to face his mother’s suffocating, borderline-incestuous embrace. She’s the kind of mom capable of putting a son off his appetite, particularly with her constant demands for “sugar” kisses from her boy.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

You’ve heard of the Lubitsch Touch? How about a Taurog Slog? Norman Taurog signed nine Elvis vehicles. As a director, he made a great yes man, quick to move on the Colonel’s every wish. With almost 200 shorts and features to his credit, Taurog’s childish way with child actors (Boys Town, Young Tom Edison, Room for One More) must have triggered something in Parker that made him the perfect man for the job of Elvis wrangler. Taurog was Jackie Cooper’s uncle and together they teamed on Skippy, a maudlin tale of a boy trying to save his pet pooch from the dog catcher that earned the director an Oscar. (Allow me a moment to point out that Hitchcock and Welles never took home a competitive Academy doorprize, but Elvis’ director of choice did.)

Presley had style, a killer grin, charm to spare and enough rock-a-hula, baby in his hips to set an audience’s feet tapping. But on his best day, movie star Elvis couldn’t get arrested as an actor due in large part to the Colonel’s refusal to allow the King to stretch. Poor little rich kid Chad sets his bar low with a future in tourism, guiding deep-pocketed vacationers through the Islands. Elvis’ brightest moment entails a job interview with his future boss Mr. Chapman, played with customary discombobulated aplomb by Howard McNear. (You probably know him better as Floyd Lawson, Mayberry’s No. 1 barber.) Elvis’ reactions to McNear’s addlebrained state and back-tracking stammer are genuine enough to give the scene a playful bounce. McNear returns for one more spirited exchange of malapropos before it’s over and in each instance leaves the audience longing for more.

There’s double entendre to spare when Abigail Prentice (Nancy Walters), Chad’s first client, asks if he can satisfy a high school teacher and four underage students. (These gals may be underage and oversexed, but by his own admission, Chad’s no cradle robber.) There’s bookish Beverly (Christian Kay), the adorably immature Sandy (Pamela Austin), a nondescript Patsy (Darlene Thomkins), and Ellie (Jenny Maxwell), the cigarette smoking, hot-to-trot minor spurned by Chad. She’s also the one voted most likely to pull a Norman Maine at the end of A Star is Born. (The only member of the group not to show up in Chad’s bedroom before the final fade is Beverly. And not one of the girls seems bothered over finding their teacher in Chad’s room.) Don’t worry about Ellie’s suicidal bringdown hampering the fun. Her cry for help becomes a punchline with Chad bending the girl over his knee for a “This’ll hurt me more than it will you” spanking. In no time, she’s back on a Paramount soundstage seated before a rear screen projector pretending she’s on location listening to Chad croon.

While on the subject of process shots, Elvis was so famous that filming on location became a practical impossibility. Paramount’s process photography wizard Farciot Eduoart deserves to share a co-director’s credit with Taurog. See: Elvis picnic before a rear screen. Watch: Elvis take a romantic drive without ever leaving the studio! Enthrall: As Elvis leads the girls on a musical tour of the process photography lab! When it came time to sing, Elvis didn’t like to leave the studio. This became laughingly apparent as time went on, with Elvis relying heavily on green screen and an occasional body double filmed in long shot.

Follow us on Instagram!

Finally, what would an Elvis picture be without a violent exchange? This one’s a politically incorrect doozy. Chad and the girls relax at a late-night watering hole where his buddy’s band performs. In walk a blowsy Enid Garvey (Iris Adrian) with Tucker (Steve Brodie), her inebriated hubby in tow, eager to pounce on the young meat. Enid thinks nothing of Tucker openly slobbering over a juvenile. Patsy sticks a fork in Tucker’s hand, but this turkey’s not done by a longshot. Apparently neither are the censors who thought nothing of including a knock-down, drag-out fistfight in a film otherwise geared for families. It isn’t enough for Presley’s ego to enrapture every female in the cast, he does so in part by proving that fisticuffs make the man.

This appears to be the first Elvis picture to be given a 4K sprucing up. Why Blue Hawaii and not Jailhouse Rock or Viva Las Vegas? Refusing to knock success, Paramount chose this, Elvis’ biggest earner, to kick things off. Normally, I’m the first to observe that the movie in question hasn’t looked this good since its initial release. I’ll watch anything in dye-transfer Technicolor and that includes Elvis. When a friend back home invited me to check out his 35mm print, he didn’t have to ask twice. I have yet to see a digital transfer that comes close to capturing the lush radiance of imbibition Technicolor, but this comes close. Photographed by Paramount veteran of 20 years, Charles Lang, it’s about as pretty an Elvis feature as any filmed. The tropical vistas and nightwork are spectacular, and in spite of Taurog’s lackluster performance in the director’s chair, his cinematographer’s dedication to a near close-up-free Panavision frame is awe-inspiring. Special features include the trailer, a photo gallery and insight into Presley’s place in movie history courtesy of Jim Niebaur’s audio commentary. 

Elvis Presley 1961 Classic ‘Blue Hawaii’ Due on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Nov. 15

Elvis Presley’s 1961 classic Blue Hawaii has been newly restored for its release on both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray for the first time Nov. 15 as part of the “Paramount Presents” line from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The Technicolor musical is available in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and HDR-10 fully restored from the original 35mm camera negative. 

The first of three films that Elvis shot in Hawaii, Blue Hawaii celebrated the new exotic state and features the hit song “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” which was certified platinum.

For the restoration, the original negative was scanned in 4K/16bit, however the opening title sequence was very grainy because it originally used duped film. That sequence was completely rebuilt using the original film elements from the Paramount library. Brand new text overlays were created for the opening sequence.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The “Paramount Presents” release includes the film on both 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and on Blu-ray, as well as access to a digital copy of the film.  The Blu-ray additionally includes the original theatrical trailer and the following new bonus content, commentary by historian James L. Neibaur and the Blue Hawaii photo scrapbook, which contains high-res images from the Paramount archives, including behind-the-scenes shots.

‘War of the Worlds,’ ‘When Worlds Collide’ Added to Paramount Presents Line

Two epic 1950s science-fiction thrillers, The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide, have been added to the Paramount Presents Line and will be released as a double feature on Sept. 27.

The release marks the 4K Ultra HD debut for The War of the Worlds and the first Blu-ray Disc appearance of When Worlds Collide.

The 1953 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds was nominated for three Academy Awards and won for Best Special Effects. The Technicolor classic has been fully remastered in 4K Ultra HD. The disc also includes access to a digital copy of the film, the notorious 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds narrated by Orson Welles, and other bonus content, including audio commentaries by film director Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns, and author Bill Warren; documentaries on the making of the film and H.G. Wells; and the original theatrical trailer.

When Worlds Collide (1951) was nominated for two Academy Awards and won for Best Special Effects. Like The War of the Worlds, it was produced by George Pal, a Hungarian-American animator, director and producer who was a leading figure in sci-fi filmmaking. Also making its Blu-ray Disc debut, the Paramount Presents edition of When Worlds Collide includes access to a digital copy of the film, as well as the original theatrical trailer.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Paramount Presents line was launched in early 2020 to introduce classics from the Paramount Pictures vault to a new generation of movie lovers. Other titles available in the Paramount Presents collection include: Fatal AttractionKing CreoleTo Catch a ThiefFlashdanceDays of ThunderPretty In PinkAirplane!, Ghost, Roman Holiday, The Haunting, The Golden ChildTrading Places, The Court Jester, Love Story, Elizabethtown, The Greatest Show on Earth, Mommie Dearest, Last Train From Gun Hill, 48 HRS., Another 48 HRS., Almost Famous, A Place in the Sun, Nashville, Bugsy Malone, Breakdown, The SheikVanilla Sky, Ragtime, Harold and Maude, Ordinary People, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The First Wives Club and Back to the Beach.

Classic ‘Back to the Beach’ Headed to ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line Aug. 9

Teen idols Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello returned to the big screen for a new surf-and-sand adventure with the 1980s update Back to the Beach, which was originally released on Aug. 7, 1987. To celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary, the film will arrive on Blu-ray for the first time as part of the “Paramount Presents” line on Aug. 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Newly remastered from a new 4K scan of the original film elements, Back to the Beach lovingly parodies the quintessential 1960s “beach party” films.  In the film, Frankie and Annette, having grown up and put aside their beach-partying lifestyle, visit their daughter in Southern California and discover there’s still some wild times left in them. Also starring in the feature are Connie Stevens, Dick Dale, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Don Adams, Bob Denver, Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley, Edd “Kookie” Byrnes and Pee-Wee Herman.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The release includes a new “Filmmaker Focus” with director Lyndall Hobbs featuring never-before-seen home movies from the set, as well as access to a digital copy of the film.  The Blu-ray is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. 

‘First Wives Club’ Debuts on Blu-ray in ‘Paramount Presents’ Line June 28

The comedy The First Wives Club arrives on Blu-ray for the first time as part of the “Paramount Presents” line on June 28 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, the 1996 comedy has been remastered from a 4K film transfer for this new release.  The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray includes collectible packaging with a foldout image of the film’s original theatrical poster, as well as a new Filmmaker Focus with screenwriter Robert Harling.

Loaded with one-liners, physical gags, and satire, The First Wives Club tells the story of three Manhattanites with more than a longtime friendship in common — they’ve all been dumped by their husbands for newer models.  Determined to turn their pain into gain, they are determined not to get mad, but get everything. 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The supporting cast includes Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya, Bronson Pinchot, Marcia Gay Harden, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Reiner, Stockard Channing and Elizabeth Berkley.

‘Ordinary People’ to Join ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line March 29

Robert Redford’s 1980 directorial debut, Ordinary People, will arrive on Blu-ray as part of the “Paramount Presents” line March 29 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Winner of four Academy Awards — including Best Picture, Best Director (Redford), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Alvin Sargent), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Timothy Hutton) — the film stars Hutton, Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore as a family being torn apart by tragedy and the unrelenting pressure to maintain a façade of normalcy. It was Hutton’s first film role and his performance not only earned him the Oscar, but it also made him the youngest person to win in the category.  

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Remastered from a new 4K film transfer overseen by Redford, the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.  The disc also includes new interviews with Hutton and Judith Guest, author of the novel upon which the movie was based. In “Swimming in the Rose Garden,” Hutton reflects on filming and the approach Redford took to create a feeling of isolation on set. In “Feeling Is Not Selective,” Guest discusses her novel and the process involved in adapting it for film.

Classic Comedy ‘Harold and Maude’ Joining ‘Paramount Presents’ Line Dec. 7

The coming-of-age comedy classic Harold and Maude arrives on Blu-ray Disc Dec. 7 as part of the “Paramount Presents” line from Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the 1971 film, directed by Hal Ashby and written by Colin Higgins, Harold (Bud Cort) is a death-obsessed teen who falls for Maude (Ruth Gordon), a happy-go-lucky, eccentric 79-year-old. To a lilting Yusuf/Cat Stevens soundtrack, Maude teaches Harold a valuable lesson about making the most of his time on earth.

Originally released on Dec. 20, 1971, the film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and has been restored and remastered for the limited-edition release.  For the restoration, the original negative was scanned in 4K and careful color correction and cleanup were undertaken to pay homage to director of photography John Alonzo’s work and honor the look of the film, according to Paramount. In addition, the soundtrack was completely remixed using recently discovered tracks to add clarity and depth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray includes a new commentary with Larry Karaszewski (co-screenwriter, Ed Wood; co-screenwriter, Dolemite Is My Name) and writer-director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), as well as a look at the film featuring Yusuf/Cat Stevens, who composed and performed the songs for the movie.

Harold and Maude is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

‘Ragtime’ Coming to Paramount Presents Blu-ray Line Nov. 16

Director Milos Forman’s epic Ragtime arrives for its 40th anniversary in a limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents line on Nov. 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel, Ragtime tells the story of disparate characters in New York City in the early 1900s. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals and violence that will test everything they believe in. With music by Randy Newman, the film stars James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Mailer and John Ratzenberger.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film has been remastered from a 4K film transfer and is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. The two-disc Blu-ray includes a newly discovered director’s cut workprint version of the film (along with the theatrical version), deleted and extended scenes, a look back at Ragtime with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller, access to a digital copy of the theatrical version, and commentary by Forman and executive producer Michael Hausman.

‘Vanilla Sky’ Due on Blu-ray Nov. 16 in ‘Paramount Presents’ Line for 20th Anniversary

Director Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky will arrive on Blu-ray as part of the “Paramount Presents” line on Nov. 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz and written for the screen and directed by Crowe, the film was newly remastered from a new 4K film transfer under his Crowe’s supervision.

Originally released on Dec. 14, 2001, Vanilla Sky follows a self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate (Cruise) who finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray includes a new “Filmmaker Focus” with Crowe, access to a digital copy of the film, and extensive legacy bonus content.

The release features collectible packaging with a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

Restored ‘The Sheik’ Joining ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line Nov. 2 for Its 100th Anniversary

The epic 1921 silent film The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, will join the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line Nov. 2 for its 100th anniversary from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally released at the height of the nation’s appetite for motion pictures, the romantic drama The Sheik became a massive sensation, breaking box office records and earning more than $1 million during its first year of release.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the film was directed by George Melford and stars the legendary Valentino as the title character. The role helped propel Valentino into stardom and sealed his status as a Hollywood heartthrob — and the original “Latin Lover” — at the age of 26. Valentino is Ahmed Ben Hassan, a charming Arabian sheik who becomes infatuated with the adventurous, modern-thinking Englishwoman Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres). When the sheik abducts Lady Diana, the two clash, but ultimately profess their love for one another.

Since original negatives for silent films rarely exist, Paramount searched the world for the best elements for the restoration and used a print and an intermediate element called a fine grain. One source of the film yielded better results for image quality, another for intertitles. One of the elements was “stretch-printed” and had to be adjusted digitally during the restoration process. In the silent era there was no standard frame rate, so stretch printing was done to show silent films at 24 frames per second. In addition, tints and tones were digitally applied, guided by an original continuity script from the Paramount archive.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

While The Sheik was wildly successful, it did provoke controversy, much as the source material had upon its original publication in 1919. Many of the themes and controversial elements of the film are still being grappled with and are explored in a new featurette on the Blu-ray with film historian and professor Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, “Desert Heat: 100 Years with The Sheik.”  The disc also includes a music score by Roger Bellon and access to a digital copy of the film.

As with all films released in the “Paramount Presents” line, The Sheik is presented with collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

Update (10/12/21): Release date changed from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2.