DVD Reviews: King Creole, G.I. Blues, Roustabout & Blue Hawaii

New Australian (Region 4) DVD's:

"Enjoyable Addition to Your DVD Library"

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson (June 2002)

Paramount Home Entertainment recently released four new Elvis DVDs in Australia:

  • King Creole
  • G.I. Blues
  • Blue Hawaii
  • Roustabout

King Creole (DVD 5134)

Technical details:

Languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish and restored English -

Sub-titles: English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish - Scene Access: 35 chapters in B&W - Audio Choices: Dolby Digital 5.1 or English Mono - Video Format: Anamorphic Widescreen 1:78:1 (letterbox format) - Dual Layer Disc

Special Features: Theatrical trailer and one question Elvis quiz on the back cover - Running Time: 111 minutes

The DVD: the video transfer is very good with a clean and crisp black and white image. The audio output is very clear with a nice impact through your sub woofers without being what you expect from a contemporaneously filmed and recorded movie. There appears to be a minor synchronicity problem between the audio and video but this is barely noticeable and certainly doesn't impede your enjoyment of what many regard to be Elvis's finest cinematic moment. Overall the sound and video quality on King Creole is very impressive and enhances your viewing and listening enjoyment.

EIN Film Review: **** - Is this Elvis's best ever film? Many critics think so. Like Jailhouse Rock, King Creole benefits from a great balance between dramatic plot and superb songs. From the opening strains of Crawfish, the New Orleans setting is evocative and the film, while slow in parts, is a roller-coaster ride of dramatic scenes punctuated by sensational music performances. The supporting cast is the best ever assembled for an Elvis movie - soon to be a superstar, Walter Matthau, is great as mobster, Maxie Fields; Carolyn Jones Morticia Addams in TV's The Addams Family) is excellent as Elvis's love interest torn between two conflicting worlds; Oscar winner Dean Jagger turns in a well crafted performance as Elvis's weak but kind father; and a young Vic Morrow (later to find fame in TV's war series, Combat) is very effective as Shark, a street thug. King Creole also stands out as one of the few Elvis films that uses major film techniques such as closed frames to convey meaning and accentuate viewer reaction.


Blue Hawaii (DVD 5103)

The DVD: The video transfer is solid without being outstanding. The rich Hawaiian colors are certainly vibrant and it's absolutely mouth-watering seeing all that lush Hawaiian scenery, swaying palm trees, crystal blue water and lovely gals. Not to mention the pleasant Elvis music that adds wonderfully to it all! You can almost feel the warmth of the Hawaiian breeze.

The audio quality displays a good balance between the spoken word and musical segments. For a movie filmed over 40 years ago the sound actually tests your sub woofers on occasions if you turn up the volume. The synchronicity between the audio and video is excellent.

Languages: French, German, Spanish Sub-titles: include English, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Arabic, French and Spanish Scene Access: 36 scenes in colour Audio Choices: Dolby Digital 5.1 or English mono Video format: Anamorphic Widescreen 2:35:1 (letterbox format) Dual Layer Disc

Special Features: Theatrical trailer and one question Elvis quiz on back cover Running Time: 97 minutes

The Movie: TV Guide rating: ** - Chad Gates (Elvis Presley) returns home to Hawaii after a stint in the Army only to defy his parents (Roland Winters and Angela Lansbury), who want him to follow them in the family pineapple-growing empire. Striking out on his own, Chad becomes a guide for the tourist agency where his girl friend (Joan Blackman) works but quickly gets in trouble when he is assigned to escort a group of teenage girls and their teacher around Honolulu. Lots of tunes, romance, and misunderstandings later, Chad is ready to settle down with his love and start his own agency. Depending on your level of Elvis fandom, you'll either find this a typically fluffy Presley vehicle with mainly forgettable tunes--save the hit "I Can't Help Falling in Love"--or none of that will matter.

EIN rating: *** - The first of the Elvis 'travelogues'. Blue Hawaii was such a big hit at the box office (while dramatic films such as Flaming Star and Wild In The Country experienced significantly lesser box office receipts) that it became the prototype for most of Elvis's early to mid 1960s films. Exotic, romantic locales, complemented by a bevy of beautiful girls, a regular dose of happy Elvis tunes and obligatory love songs and exciting occupations for the lead became the norm after Blue Hawaii. The 'boy meets girl-boy loses girl-boy wins girl back' concept was highly successful for a few years but gradually fans grew tired of the same old thing. Blue Hawaii is a good film. Colourful Hawaiian land and seascapes complement well crafted performances from the lead characters (and what a scream Angela Lansbury is as Elvis's mother!). The plot is thin but was never expected to be anything more - its Elvis, fun times and great music that the fans wanted. Blue Hawaii certainly delivers on that score. The soundtrack album was #1 on the Billboard Top Album charts for 20 consecutive weeks.

Blue Hawaii Trivia: Blue Hawaii was banned in Mexico because on the unruly behaviour of Elvis fans during screenings there of G.I. Blues

--------------------------------------------------------G.I. Blues (technical details/review as for Blue Hawaii)

EIN Film Rating: ** - G.I. Blues is one of those Elvis films I don't really like. And I'm not sure why. It is a pleasant enough Elvis vehicle with the usual array of pleasant scenery, attractive co-stars and aurally and viscerally satisfying songs. It just doesn't grab me but I know many fans love it - its huge box office made it one of Elvis's biggest grossing movies (in 1960 it grossed $4.3m in the US alone). Juliet Prowse is very effective as Lili and Elvis cruises through his part as the handsome, singing GI.

The soundtrack is strong with Blue Suede Shoes and Wooden Heart stand-outs. The latter track failed to chart in the US but sold more than a million copies worldwide. In West Germany it was a huge hit. The DVD offering is solid without being outstanding. G.I. Blues Trivia: 'She has a body that would make a bishop stamp his foot through a stained glass window' - Elvis talking about his co-star Juliet Prowse

Hal Wallis (talking about the industry preview for G.. Blues): "…the most exciting run we've ever had and that takes in a lot".

TV Guide rating: ** - In his first movie after his return from real-life military service, Elvis Presley put his soldiering experience to good use as Tulsa McCauley, a GI who forms a combo with two dogface pals (Robert Ivers and James Douglas) and performs at a large Army show in West Germany. Juliet Prowse plays Lili, an icy cabaret dancer with whom Elvis is to spend the night if his buddies are going to win a $300 wager, the seed money necessary for them to start a club when they get back to the States. In the process of winning the bet (accomplished guilelessly), Elvis falls in love with Lili, and G.I. BLUES makes its way to a happy ending. Songs include "Shopping Around" (Sid Tepper, Roy C. Bennett, Schroeder), "Tonight Is So Right for Love," "What's She Really Like?" (Sid Wayne, Silver), "Frankfurt Special," "Didya Ever," "Big Boots" (Wayne, Edwards), "Pocketful of Rainbows" (Wise, Weisman), "Doin' the Best I Can" (Thomas, Schumann), "Blue Suede Shoes" (Carl Perkins), "G.I. Blues" (Tepper, Bennett), "Wooden Heart" (Wise, Weisman).

-----------------------------------------------------Roustabout (technical details/review as for Blue Hawaii)

EIN Film Rating: *** - Amiable light comedy successful for the strong performances of its supporting cast, notably Oscar winner Barbara Stanwyck and The High Chapparall's Leif Erickson.

The soundtrack is short and fluffy but enjoyable (the soundtrack album runs for just over 20 minutes yet made #1 in the US!). The plot is thin and the carnival setting adds some atmosphere. Look for Raquel Welch in a bit part in the opening scenes. The DVD edition is again solid but not outstanding.

TV Guide rating: 2.5 stars - After a fracas at the coffee house where he sings, Presley hits the road and lands a job as a handyman at the carnival run by Stanwyck. Presley by any other name still being Presley, it isn't long before he's singing (some 11 songs) and attracting throngs of young people to the carnival to hear him. Of course, he's also attracted the attention of the lovely Freeman, who talks him into returning to the carnival after a fight with a patron sends Presley packing and leaves Stanwyck in big financial trouble. Slightly better than average Presley fare, ROUSTABOUT boasts a better cast than most of the King's films--with Stanwyck's presence lending the production status. There are recognizable names, though, all the way to the end of the credits--Albertson, Welch (in her film debut), Kiel, and Barty, as well as Playboy's Miss November of 1958, Staley.

Presley sings "Roustabout," "Poison Ivy League," "One-Track Heart" (Bill Giant, Bernie Baum, Florence Kaye); "Little Egypt" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller); "Wheels on My Heels," "It's a Wonderful World" (Sid Tepper, Roy C. Bennett); "It's Carnival Time" (Ben Weisman, Sid Wayne); "Carny Town" (Fred Wise, Randy Starr); "Hard Knocks," "There's a Brand New Day on the Horizon" (Joy Byers); "Big Love, Big Heartache" (Dolores Fuller, Lee Morris, Sonny Hendrix).

General Comments: Unless you only have a mono television, not surprisingly the Dolby Digital Stereo audio option provides superior listening enjoyment than the English Mono option. Unlike the NTSC Region 1 versions, all four DVDs do not include a 4 page booklet and the chapters are instead printed on the inside front cover. Scene or chapter selection is user friendly on all DVDs. Australian fans have waited a long time for some of Elvis's narrative films to be released on DVD.

Verdict: These four DVD releases are a timely and very enjoyable offering without representing exceptional value for money. © EIN 2002

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