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GI Blues

 

 

Shooting began May 2, 1960 and lasted until late June

Sneak preview in Dallas on August 18, 1960.

Opened nationally November 23, 1960

Character:  Tulsa McLean

Producer: Hal B. Wallis

Director: Norman Taurog

 

Plot:

This film introduces the viewing audience to Elvis' first musical comedy. As lady-killer, Tulsa MacLean, an army sergeant stationed in West Germany, his and his buddies hope to earn enough money to open a small nightclub in the United States, upon their Army discharge. Tulsa is encouraged by his buddies to accept a bet to win over Lili, "ice queen", who is a beautiful cabaret dancer at the Cafe Europa. Her reputation precedes her as one who typically refuses the affections of American GI's. Tulsa is able to warm up that cold exterior and soon discovers that he is in love with her. Unbeknownst to Lili, he has called off the bet with his buddies, because of his newfound love for her. Tulsa later calls on Lili to assist him with a babysitting problem, and his buddies believe that he has won the bet for them. Lili soon hears of the bet between the boys and she becomes angry. But all is cleared up at the Armed Services show and she forgives him.

 

Songs:

"What's She Really Like"-sung in the shower with no musical accompaniment. This partial version lasted about 18 seconds.

"G. I. Blues"-sung in the Rathskellar Club. 

"Doin' The Best I Can"-sung in the Rathskellar Club. It was interrupted when a patron played "Blue Sued Shoes" on the jukebox.

"Blue Suede Shoes"-Played on the jukebox in the Rathskellar Club by a disgruntled patron, interrupting "Doin' The Best I Can."

"Frankfort Special"-Sung on the train to Frankfort.

"Shoppin' Around"-Sung in the Club Europa after first meeting Juliet Prowse.

"Tonight Is So Right for Love"-Sung in a German nightclub, the Bergreller.

"Wooden Heart"-Sung at a puppet show.

"Pocketful of Rainbows"-Sung to Juliet Prowse while riding up a mountain in a cable car.

"Big Boots"-Sung to Rick's baby in Lili's apartment.

"Didja Ever"-Sung at an Armed Forces show.

 

Cast:

Tulsa McLean - Elvis Presley

Lili - Juliet Prowse

Cookey - Robert Ivers

Tina - Leticia Roman

Rick - James Douglas

Marla - Sigrid Maier

Sergeant McGraw - Arch Johnson

Jeeter -  Mickey Knox

Captain Hobart - John Hudson

Mac - Ken Becker

Turk - Jeremy Slate

Warren - Beach Dickerson

Mickey - Trent Dolan

Walt - Carl Crow

Papa Mueller - Fred Essler

Harvey - Ronald Starr

Trudy - Erika Peters

Puppet Show Owner - Ludwig Stossel

German Guitarist Leader - Robert Boon

Mrs. Hagermann - Edit Angold

Orchestra Leader - Dick Winslow

Red - Ed Faulkner

Bandleader - Edward Coch

Herr Klugmann - Fred Kruger

Head Waiter - Torben Meyer

Businessman - Gene Roth

Businessman - Roy C. Wright

MP - Harper Carter

Chaplain - Walter Conrad

Sgt. "Dynamite" Bixby - Edward Stroll

Kaffehous Manager - William Kaufmann

Waitress - Karen Mann

MP - Tip McClure

Strolling Girl Singer - Hannerl Melcher

Bit Sergeant - Elisha Matthew Mott Jr.

Bartender - Blaine Turner

Fritzie - Judith Rawlins

Britta, the Redhead - Britta Ekman

Rick's Baby - Kerry Charles Ray. Terry Earl Ray, David Paul Rankin, Donald James Rankin, Donald Clark Wise, David Clark Wise

Bargirl - Marianne Gaba

Bargirl - Sally Todd

Bit Girl - Trude Wyler

MP - Michael Sargent

Blonde - Marlyn Gladstone

Brunette - Liz Dubrock

Puppeteers - Robert Allison Baker III, Donald G. Sahlin, F. Alton Wood

Musicians - Scotty Moore, D. J. Fontana

 

Production Notes:

In Los Angeles TV station KTTV planned to televise the opening at the Fox Wilshire Theater in the city on November 15, 1960, but the telecast was cancelled due to the inability to obtain a Sherman tank for the premiere. The special showing was to be a benefit show for the Hemophilia Foundation, which was covered on the radio. Special interviewees were Juliet Prowse, Ronald Reagan, and Cesar Romero.

A showing of G. I. Blues in Mexico City caused a riot. Theater patrons ripped seats and broke out windows. The Mexican government banned all future Elvis films.

Originally, Elvis' character was named Tulsa McCauley. That was changed to Tulsa McLean before the start of production. However, many reviews of the day, as well as many reference books though the years, incorrectly used the original name.

The original title considered for G. I. Blues was Cafe Europa.

Paramount launched a talent search for three sets of twin boys to play the baby of Rick and Marla in the film. The twins had to be about a year old and have brown hair and brown eyes. Three sets of twins were required because the laws of California prevented any one child from working more than four hours a day or two hours before the cameras. Each boy was issued a Social Security card and received $22.05 for each day of work.

In the barracks shower scene, wooden blocks were used in place of soap in long camera shots. The real thing was used for close-ups.

All of Elvis' scenes were shot in the Paramount studio lot. A camera crew was sent  to West Germany for several weeks of location shooting to use as atmosphere in the film.

Elvis stayed at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel during filming.

G. I. Blues reached #2 on Variety's weekly list of top-grossing films. For the year 1960, it ranked #14, grossing $4.3 million the last six weeks of the year.

Due to high publicity during the filming of GI Blues, Elvis was visited by many foreign dignitaries. He met the Kings and Queens of Nepal and Thailand, Princess Margarette of Denmark, Princess Astrid of Norway, and Princess Margaretha of Sweden when they pay him a visit at the studios.

Trivia:

The nickname of Tulsa McLean's tank crew was Pretty Boy II.

Scotty Moore and D. J. Fontana could be seen playing in the Rathskellar. 

The Chili Parlor was the name of the business on the Oklahoma Turnpike that Tulsa, Rick and Cookey want to transform into a hot nightspot after they were discharged from the army.

Before entering the Army, Tulsa worked in a gas station back in his native Oklahoma.

Tulsa learned to play the guitar from his grandfather, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. The real name of his Uncle Charlie was Leaping Bear.

Operation Lili-Europa was the code name given by the guys to observe Tulsa to see if he could spend the night with Lili.

Tulsa was in the Third Armored Division

Blooper: 

A message carved into a table on the boat taken by Tulsa and Lili from Cologne to Dusseldorf, there was an inscription "Fritz Leibe Emma." The inscription should have read "Fritz Leibt Emma."

 

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