G.I. BLUESThe way the bright blue words ELVIS PRESLEY, IN “G.I. BLUES,” suddenly appeared as if in the air was already very thrilling to the audience, and as the credits rolled out in front of the tanks the excitement grew within one ... and that first shot of Elvis inside the tank” I shall never forget it!
The maturity gained during the two years since he last appeared on the screen is at once apparent, and I think everyone, man or woman, will catch their breath when they see it. He looks so fine, with the light falling from above on to his slightly uplifted face, his eyes half-closed and a slight smile on his lips, as he banters with his buddies.
In the cafe scene, when he sings the terrific, fast G.I. Blues, to one’s delight Elvis gives his inimitable expression to the rhythm, feet, legs and hips rippling to the beat. And that individual, restless swing of his shoulders ... the memory of this makes me wonder at those so-called critics and others who have had the colossal cheek to question Elvis’s rhythmic expression, and suggested that he actually cut down on his movements! Would they demand of a tree that it reduce its swaying in the wind, or of a tiger that it suppress the rhythm of its stride? I wonder!
Then the mood changes ...
When Elvis steps inside the puppet tent and sings to the little fraulein puppet Wooden Heart, the delicate artistry with which he handles the scene is the most perfect that could be. He gives to this as he does to the Big Boots lullaby, a gentle and tender treatment, which comes as naturally to him as does the terrific vitality and thrilling beat of his Shoppin’ Around and Frankfurt Special.
The maturity evident in the opening tank scene reveals itself more and more as the film goes on: in the grace of his bearing, his very individual way of delivering the humorous lines, the deep sincerity he portrays in the dressing-room scene when breaking it off with Juliet, and his attention to detail (such as when he is silently practising chord holds on the guitar when sitting in the corner compartment before singing Frankfurt Special).
Juliet Prowse, admittedly, has a very strong personality, and holds one’s attention very strongly. She’s a beautiful dancer and has a strangely attractive face with that sudden smile of delight. But she and everyone else fade right away into the background of gay memory, and only Elvis remains. It was, to me, his film, absolutely.
It seems to me that in every film that he’s made there has always been the embryo of the next. What I mean is that the potentialities one feels in him as an actor in one film he inevitably brings out in the next.
And “G.I. Blues” gives one both joy in itself and a promise of endless variation in the films that are yet to come.
Elvis Monthly, February 1961