It’s hard to imagine that Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was released 60 years ago. In many ways, it has become one with Hawaii. Its launch coincidentally coincided with the modern era of Hawaii travel, started by Pan Am and perfected by United Airlines.
Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii excelled in promoting the idea of an affordable dream vacation in Hawaii. One of the main actors is alive. Can you guess who? The answer can be found towards the end of this post.
The advent of jet travel in Hawaii meets Blue Hawaii.
Just two years before Blue Hawaii, Pan Am was the first to deliver revolutionary Boeing 707 aircraft to Hawaii. Travel here suddenly took half as long as before, just five hours from the west coast. The economy of the planes, associated with less time and more passengers, meant that Hawaii was now accessible to more people and at a much lower cost than was possible before.
Airplanes have allowed ordinary people to travel to what remains among the most remote islands on earth with the same ease, frequency and relative cost that we see today.
However, it was United Airlines that took the bet on Hawaii in the 1960s, with a fleet of DC-8s on a variety of routes, some of which remain among the longest domestic flights. The DC-8s were United’s first aircraft and the airline became the first customer for the DC-8s. The Hawaiian and DC-8 were perfect for each other. Their Hawaiian itineraries quickly expanded to even include non-stop flights from Chicago and New York.
Blue Hawaii has increased the desire of people to visit Hawaii.
Prior to Blue Hawaii, Elvis Presley had already fallen in love with the state after his first concert on Oahu in 1957. Although airplanes made Hawaii more accessible, it was the movie Blue Hawaii that helped create the irresistible charm and fantasy of Hawaii. .
Filming for the Hawaii film began in March 1961 after Elvis gave a benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial. Iconic locations include scenes from Diamond Head, Waikiki, Mount Tantalum and Hanauma Bay on Oahu, and the famous Coco Palms resort on Kauai. Did you know that Elvis, 26, got injured doing martial arts between scenes?
Many of the scenes in the film were filmed near Waikiki Beach, seen in the introductory driving videos, and at the once-beloved International Market. Other scenes were filmed at the now Hilton Hawaiian Village (his favorite hotel, where he chose the Mahele Suite “King Suite” on the 14th floor of Alia Tower). The movie is a breathtaking look back and we’ve included the entire YouTube movie below.
The New York Times said of Blue Hawaii that it was “pointless and harmless” as well as “mildly uneventful”. Variety said it was “fresh”. Looking at it today, we see their point of view, and it seems completely inappropriate in many ways. But that was 1961. Elvis’ performance also did not receive good reviews.
The LA Times hit the spot…