There's no question that Elvis Presley loved Hawaii. Whether it was to hold a concert, conduct a benefit, film a motion picture or just vacation with the family, Hawaii held a special place in his heart and the people of Hawaii loved him right back.
Elvis first visited Hawaii in 1957 for three concerts including a performance for the troops and their families at Schofield Barracks. He returned in 1961 for a benefit to raise funds for the building of the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
From 1961-1966 Elvis starred in three films that were made in Hawaii: Blue Hawaii (1961), Girls!, Girls!, Girls! (1962) and Paradise Hawaiian Style (1966).
In 1973, Elvis returned to Hawaii for a live sateliite concert, Aloha from Hawaii, which broke all records for a concert by a single entertainer. He would return again to Hawaii just months before his death in 1977 for a vacation with family and friends.
Even to this day, 35 years after his death, the memories of Elvis are very strong in the islands. Movie tours take island visitors to locations where scenes from his films were shot. A new hit show, Legends in Concert Waikiki's "Rock-A-Hula", includes two superb world-class Elvis tribute artists, one portraying the young Elvis of his Hawaii movie years, the other the older Elvis who performed in 1973.
In January 2013, a six-day celebration honoring the 40th anniversary of Elvis's "Aloha from Hawaii" concert will take place, aptly named Elvis Presley's Aloha from Hawaii, the 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Fortunately for Elvis' millions of fans, both old and new, each of his three motion pictures filmed in Hawaii as well has the 1973 concert are available on DVD.
Elvis's historic 1973 concert from Honolulu was beamed live via Globecam Satellite to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, The Phillipines, South Vietnam and other countries. It was seen in over 30 countries in Europe shortly thereafter. Across the globe it attracted record audiences.
Unfortunately, the show did not air in the United States on NBC until three months later and in a oddly edited format. Still, it attracted 51% of the television viewing audience in the USA.
This Deluxe Edition DVD on two disks contains virtually all of the footage taken for the show.
Disk one includes a 17:30 minute chapter showing the uncut version of Elvis' arrival in Waikiki, the 56:39 minute filming of the rehearsal concert on January 12, 1973 before a live audience, and the 1:04:18 footage of the live concert on January 14, 1973 that was aired live and on taped-delay satellite transmission for countries around the world.
Disk 2 contains the 27:00 minute post-concert "insert" songs session taped after 12:30 a.m. following the live concert and after the audience's departure. The second disk also contains the 1:16:39 broadcast version of Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii that aired on NBC on April 4, 1973.
During the concert Elvis performed over 20 of his biggest hits including See See Rider, Burning Love, Early Morning Rain, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Blue Hawaii, Suspicious Minds, I'll Remember You, the Hawaiian Wedding Song and Can't Help Falling in Love.
Blue Hawaii was Elvis' first motion picture filmed in Hawaii. Location filming took place in March and April of 1961 and the film was released on November 22, 1961.
The plot is nothing complex. Chad Gates (Presley), upon discharge from the Army, returns to Hawaii to enjoy life with his buddies and girlfriend. Against the wishes of his parents, (Roland Winters as his father, Fred Gates; and Angela Lansbury as his mother, Sarah Lee Gates), who want him to work for the family business, Chad decides to work as a tour guide for the company where his girlfriend, Maile Duval, played by Joan Blackman, works.
Chad's first clients are a group of four high school girls escorted by their teacher, Miss. Abigail Prentice, played by Nancy Walters. Needless to say, it's a no-ending series of problems with the girls and Chad eventually gets fired.
In the end Chad and Maile decide to open their own travel agency and get married. The famous wedding scene was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort on Kauai. The resort was, sadly, damaged beyond repair in Hurricane Iniki in 1993.
The movie feature some of Elvis' most popular songs including Blue Hawaii, Can't Help Falling in Love, Rock-A-Hula Baby, and the Hawaiian Wedding Song. The film finished as the number 8 top-grossing movie of 1961 and the number 14 top-grossing movie for 1962.
The scenery is some of the best depictions on screen of Hawaii in the early 1960's. Oahu locations include Tantalus and Round Top Drive, Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, the southeast Oahu coastline, the pineapple fields of central Oahu and the Kaiser Hawaiian Village Hotel (now the much different Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort.) Kauai locations include Lydgate Park and the nearby Coco Palms Resort.
Blue Hawaii finished as the 8th top-grossing movie of 1961 and the 14th for 1962. It continues to be aired on cable frequently and time has done nothing to diminish its popularity.
One year after the release of Blue Hawaii, Elvis' second motion picture filmed in Hawaii hit the big screens. It was Girls! Girls! Girls!.
Elvis plays Ross Carpenter, a Hawaiian deep-sea fishing charter skipper, whose boss sells his fishing boats and sailboat and move to Arizona for health reasons. The new owner of the boats, Wesley Johnson, played by Jeremy Slate, and Ross never see eye to eye. Ross puts his mind to buying the sailboat on which he lives and which he and his father had built together years before. The only problem is he has no money.
Ross finds himself caught between two women - Robin, played by Stella Stevens - a singer at a club that Ross frequents and where he occasionally sings; and Laurel - a sweet girl, played by Laurel Goodwin, whom he meets at the club. Robin and Ross have dated and she still has her eyes on Ross, but Ross falls in love with Laurel, who has come to Hawaii to escape a broken romance.
Ross takes a job at the club to earn some extra money, upsetting Robin who has been the featured performer and Laurel whom he keeps standing up on dates. Now spurned by both women, Ross sets his mind on his two new jobs, captaining one of Johnson's commercial tuna boats, where he has limited success and singing at the club, hoping to earn enough money to buy the sailboat which Johnson has put up for sale.
Little does Ross know that Laurel is from a rich Detroit family and that she has bought the sailboat for Ross. When he finds out his ego is bruised and he flees to Paradise Cove where his Chinese "second family" lives. Laurel pursues his in the the sailboat with Johnson captaining the boat and trying to put the moves on Laurel. Of course, Ross comes to her rescue. Ross and Laurel decide to marry and build their own boat.
The film features some great location filimg at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu, Paradise Cove long before the Ko Olina Resorts were built and the former Bumble Bee Seafood plant near Waikiki Beach.
Elvis' songs featured in the movie include Girls! Girls! Girls!, Return To Sender, Because Of Love, and Thanks To The Rolling Sea.
The film was moderate box office success, leading the box office for three straight weeks and finishing the year as the number 31 top-grossing movie of 1962, despite opening late in November. It was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Musical at the 1963 Golden Globes ceremony, losing to The Music Man.
In August 1965 Elvis returned to Hawaii for three weeks of location filming for Paradise Hawaiian Style, his third and final film shot in the islands.
Elvis plays Rick Richards, an out-of-work commercial airline pilot who enters into a partnership with his old buddy Danny Kohana played by James Shigeta to operate a helicopter and small plane charter service carrying customers on short-haul trips through the islands. Along the way, Danny makes promises to share some of the profits with four girls at different locations as well as showing an interest in the company's secretary Mrs. Judy Hudson played by Suzanne Leigh.
Trouble seems to follow Rick wherever he goes, the worst of which involves a helicopter full of show dogs being transported to Kauai who get out of control causing the helicopter to force a car off the road. The car was being driven by a regional director of the Island Aviation Bureau who files a complaint that results in Rick's license being suspended. Rick risks a permanent loss of his license when he flies to rescue his partner and daughter Jan (played by Donna Butterworth) who had crashed along the coast of Kauai.
Needless to say, all is eventually forgiven and Rick reveals that all along he has known that Judy was single.
Paradise Hawaiian Style features some of the most beautiful location filming in Elvis' three Hawaii motion pictures much of it from a helicopter and shot by Academy Award winning helicoper photographer Nelson Tyler.
Locations include the Sheraton Maui; Hanalei Beach and the now long-closed, Hanalei Plantation Resort on Kauai; the Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast of Kauai; and multiple scenes at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Oahu. All of these locations are prime spots for folks seeking Elvis filming locations in Hawaii.
The movie feature some great Elvis songs including Paradise Hawaiian Style, Pupu A`o `Ewa ( by the performers at the Polynesian Cultural Center), Drums Of The Islands, and the This Is My Heaven.
The film premiered in June of 1966 and finished as the 39th top-grossing movie of 1966.