The most perfectly realized piece of pop culture confection is Blue Hawaii, the seminal Elvis Presley vehicle.
When looking back at his large catalog of mostly forgettable fluffy movies, usually the most recognizable are Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, and Viva Las Vegas. Blue Hawaii, sadly, sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. But this movie expertly combines great music, gorgeous locales, and a fun story into a great cinematic experience.
Elvis plays Chadwick, a G.I. returning home to his rich family who own a pineapple plantation on the island of Oahu. All that poor Chadwick needs after returning from the service is to lie on the beach and play with the locals who understand his need for fast cars and loud music.
All his Southern Belle mother (played in great form by Angela Lansbury, who was probably only two years older than Elvis at the time) wants is for her Chadwick to stop hanging out with his “island girl” girlfriend, get a job at the family business, and give her some sugar on the cheek. Of course there is friction. Elvis at first hides from his family and his responsibilities, until his girlfriend Milea convinces him to get a job at the travel agency where she works. That is where the fun really starts.
Elvis’ first job is to show a smoldering hot teacher and her four teenage girl students around the island, which spells trouble. While crooning “Rockahula Baby” at a Luau and teaching the girls how to surf, one of the girls falls for Elvis while Milea gets her hackles raised. Many fun and innocent hi-jinks ensue.
Elvis is at his peak of physical attractiveness and the scenery is amazing.
The songs are absolute classics, the movie even has him singing “Fools Rush In” to Milea’s grandmother.
This is the best movie to introduce casual viewers to the magic that is Elvis Presley.