Share your Love for Elvis Presley on Social Networks:

GI Blues
– See the new Elvis!-
(Part 10)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

There are many more similar accounts of the work on the film “GI Blues”. One of them was published in The New York Times on May 22, 1960 in the article “Elvis Presley Returns To Movie Maneuvers”. ” Hollywood. A tall young man with dark, slicked-back hair smoothed out his soldier’s uniform, rose from the bar stool, and walked sullenly under the bright lights between the crowded tables of the nightclub ,” Murray Schumach described the scene of “Shoppin’ Around.” ‘ He sulked towards the stage he had been invited to, receiving applause and cheers from his fellow soldiers along the way, patting one of them on the back and ruffling the hair of another. When he approached the conductor, he said to the soldier approaching him: ‘Did I tell you not to help me?’ The soldier just smiled and replied: ‘What have I done?’ ‘What have I done?’, the dark-haired soldier sneered sarcastically and reluctantly accepted the guitar from the smiling conductor . […] In this scene of ‘GI Blues’, his first film after leaving the army, Elvis Presley didn’t have to do anything more than hold a guitar in his hands. For this and other scenes, he has already recorded eleven new songs in the studio.

‘I liked it,’ Presley shouted inside the nightclub set up at the Paramount studios as soon as the cameras were turned off. ‘I liked it too,’ said Norman Taurog, the film’s director, standing next to the cameramen. ‘We’ll let it go .’

A moment later, during a short break during which ” the camera recorded the general enthusiasm of the audience “, Schumach, who specialized in, among other things, the film industry (and later also in the Vietnam War), was given the opportunity to ask Elvis a few questions in his dressing room. The conversation concerned, among others, acting and music.

Already at the beginning, the singer admitted to the journalist that being an actor is much more difficult for him than singing. Despite this, he said, he never decided – like other people working in film – to study acting. ” I don’t study ,” he said. “ At least in terms of reading or taking additional lessons. ” I learn by experience .”

At the same time, Presley denied that he ever intended to abandon his singing career in favor of acting.


He also confessed that he really likes singing and appreciates various genres of music. As proof of this, he even cited his memories of Milton Bearl’s program, in which as many as six opera singers performed in one evening. “ I’m just speechless ,” he enthused. ” They had great voices and great arrangements .”

Interestingly, Elvis opened up so much to a reporter from The New York Times that he even revealed to him his methods of working in the recording studio. ” I just listen to a song several times in a row ,” he explained. “ No one can tell me how I should perform this or that song. I only work my way. If the day ever comes that I listen to anyone else, I will become unbearable and dead .” He also added that he couldn’t read music.

At the end of the interview, Presley once again emphasized that he did not see any sense in media reports about the imminent end of rock’n’roll music and that its success was solely due to paying radio DJs and persuading them to present albums with recordings in this style on the air. . ” Rock’n’roll music is getting better than ever before ,” he claimed. “ Sound engineers are learning more and more about it. About how to deal with it. She couldn’t become popular just because of someone else’s remuneration. Too many Americans love her. And no, I don’t see any reason why I should change my singing style now. That would be quite unwise. Of course, if something changes, I will change too. I have to do this. This is showbiz .”

The above events coincided with the visit of another royal couple1 . This time, the Thai authorities – King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit Kitiyakara – visited the set of the new Paramount Pictures production.

Of all the musical scenes featured in “GIBlues”, the sequence built around the song “Wooden Heart” seems to be the most recognizable and to this day loved by viewers around the world (especially the younger ones). In it, the film’s Tulsa McClean saves a traveling puppet show by singing an old German song in the company of two puppets – the girl to whom he dedicated the song and a jealous hunter.

The behind-the-scenes of the creation of this charming sequence were perfectly remembered by Robert Allison Baker III, who, together with two other experienced puppeteers, Donald G. Sahlin and F. Alton Wood, was responsible for its success.

” On the third day, Elvis came to do this puppet show ,” he remembered in the excellent book “Inside ‘GIBlues’.” ” He walked onto the stage and approached the puppets. We started working with him using this little girl (doll). Then he turned to the director and said, ‘I can’t work with this doll. She lives! And that scares me! I need to calm down a bit because I don’t like this feeling.’ Then he returned to the dressing room for over an hour.

Finally someone told him that he had to come back because the scene had to be completed that day. At the end of the number, the director asked him if he could be the ‘father of one of the puppets’ and then, without Elvis’ knowledge, he put the puppet on his arm and started hitting Elvis in the head with a stick. At first, Elvis was very upset about it, but when he turned around and saw it was the director, he said everything was fine .

Juliet Prowse, sitting among the children in the audience, watched the entire scene.

A dozen or so years later, the actress herself revealed some interesting facts from the film set to the author of the book “The Private Life of Elvis”. In a publication published in 1987, she talked about, among other things, the culinary habits of a popular singer. ” We met in his room and ate our dinners there ,” she said. ” I must admit that Elvis had some strange eating habits. For example, he did not like steak, veal and fish. His favorite foods were pork, ham and southern fried chicken. Just like his mother did. Sometimes he wanted specific dishes and there was a time in Los Angeles when he ate meat cutlets, mashed potatoes, sauce and chopped tomatoes for dinner every day for several days! Of course, he always liked hamburgers, and especially chesseburgers, as long as they were really well done, as well as French fries and all kinds of powdered milks. Plus vegetables, apple pie and ice cream. He generally ate food typical of most Americans – mostly prepared semi-finished products – and so it never surprised me that he had constant problems with being overweight .

Prowse even admitted that she tried to interest Presley in yoga, which would not only allow him to stay in good shape but also replace the fasts that the singer underwent from time to time to look good in front of the camera.

At that time, however, Elvis was more interested in karate than yoga and, as his co-stars remembered, in the breaks between filming he spent hours exploring the secrets of this martial art and doing intensive exercises. Much to the embarrassment of the filmmakers, Presley even tried to break boards, tiles and even bricks with his hand! And unfortunately, during one of such training sessions, while trying to break the boards placed in front of him, the singer broke a bone in his hand. Despite the painful injury, work on the film was not interrupted.

A souvenir of this event is the photo on the cover of the album with the film’s soundtrack. On its back, exactly in the photo showing the scene with the song “Tonight Is So Right For Love“, you can see the artist’s red and swollen hand.

It wasn’t just the constant karate drills that were worrying the folks at Paramount Pictures. Elvis’ other interests were also not among the safest in the world. Juliet Prowse remembered that his “ favorite way to unwind was to drive cars – Chevrolets, Rolls Royces, even movie studio cars – whenever he could get his hands on one. He drove around the studio in anything with four wheels (though sometimes two wheels were enough for him when he had nothing else at hand) . According to the actress, Elvis was ” pretty much like any other boy ” in this respect .

Returning briefly to the children’s scenes and the plot involving young actors, it is worth mentioning one more funny sequence. Namely, the one in which the film’s Tulsa McClean is asked to look after the several-month-old child of his friends, Ricky and Marly.

Few people today realize that little “Tiger” (to whom Elvis sings, among others, the charming lullaby “Big Boots”) was played in the film by… six babies! More specifically, Kerry Charles Ray and Terry Earl Ray, David Paul Rankin and Donald James Rankin, and Donald Clark Wise and David Clark Wise. ” Elvis Presley. Everyone thinks they know what he is like. Well, he’s not like that anymore! “, one of the newspapers at that time reported. “ He is no longer that hip-shaking symbol of the untamed beast residing in a seventeen-year-old chest. He returned from the army understanding, humble and caring. In ‘GIBlues’ by Hal Wallis and Paramount, his first film after coming out to civilian life, he appears in one scene with a child and some of his ‘buddies’. Elvis showed great interest in children aged 8 to 13 months, who played… one child in the film.

He even discovered that to make a baby start crying, all he had to do was run to a little pig and show him a bottle of milk. When you take it away from him, the baby immediately starts crying. However, it is much more difficult to achieve the opposite effect – a smiling or serious child. For this reason, and because California law limits a child’s working time on set to two hours a day, the director employed several body doubles. At the crucial moment, as soon as he noticed that the expression on one child’s face was closest to the one in the script, he took him to the set and thanks to that the scene could be shot .

The young actors were looked after by three dedicated nannies. Each of them received $22.05 for a day of work on the film set

Filming for the film “GI Blues” lasted until the end of June 1960. Shortly before their end, on June 7, i.e. exactly on the day when the scene with the song “Tonight Is So Right For Love” was shot, the film studio was visited by three Scandinavian princesses – Margrethe from Denmark (from 1972 Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II), Astrid Maud Ingeborg of Norway (sister of the current reigning King of Norway) and Margrethe of Sweden (sister of the King of Sweden).

” During a four-day tour of the West Coast, the princesses visited the set of Presley’s ‘GIBlues’ ,” reported the New York Times. ” Upon learning of their arrival, Elvis was even given the rules of protocol. ‘Is this another meeting with Their Majesties?’, the singer allegedly asked .

During their several-hour visit to Hollywood, the royals also attended Dean Martin’s birthday party, where, apart from Elvis, actresses Juliet Prowse and Shirley McClaine and producer Hal Wallis also appeared.

The official end of work on the film “GIBlues” was June 29, 1960, i.e. the day on which Paramount released Elvis from other duties and allowed him to return home.

That same day, Elvis, accompanied by his cousin Gene Smith, flew to St. Louis where he rented a car and returned to Memphis. He arrived at Graceland the next day around 3 p.m., and according to several sources, he spent that time in the company of his then-girlfriend, Anita Wood, his father, and his cousin, Gene Smith, who accompanied him on the trip.

  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit Kitiyakara met Elvis on May 21, 1960

Article written and provided by Mariusz Ogieglo, EP Promised Land (Poland)

If you want to visit more articles about the life of Elvis Presley, enter the following Elvis Radio 24h link: Thanks TCB

We remind you that you can also listen to Elvis Radio 24 hours on your mobile phone by downloading our free applications for Android in the Play Store, and for  iPhone in your Apple Store Thank you very much!!…

Share your Love for Elvis Presley on Social Networks: