The soundtrack album for Elvis’ new, all-ages musical comedy in the Bing Crosby mode offered a generous fourteen-track selection of Hawaiian-flavored, mostly romantic music. There is no question that Elvis found the mix not only palatable but very much to his taste (Bing Crosby’s equally Hawaiian-flavored “Harbor Lights” was one of the first songs he ever recorded), and the Radio Recorders sessions included a combination of some of the best Nashville and L.A. studio pickers. As for the movie itself, the key element was a fixed determination on the part of both Colonel Parker and producer Hal Wallis to make the kind of movie that Elvis’ audience unquestionably preferred: a musical entertainment, not a serious drama. This view had only been reinforced by the commercial (and some would say artistic) failure of Elvis’ two most recent movies for 20th Century Fox, Flaming Star and Wild In The Country, both of which had offered him strong dramatic roles. Blue Hawaii, on the other hand, was a reprise of G.I. Blues, only better – in terms of both material and box-office success. The soundtrack album exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations, selling nearly two million copies, a figure that would stand as an unapproachable all-time best. In addition, it yielded a Number Two pop hit, “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” a song with which Elvis would always be identified. And, perhaps needless to say, it established once and for all the course of a film career, which Elvis had once hoped, would see him become “the next James Dean.”
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