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G.I. BLUES - Trivia

  • After a sneak preview at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas on August 18, 1960, G.I. Blues opened nationally on November 23. The second feature at many theatres was Walk Tall, which starred Willard Parker and Joyce Meadows. Before opening nationally, G.I. Blues played several military bases. 
     

  • Los Angeles TV station KTTV planned to televise the opening at the Fox Wilshire Theatre in the city on November 15, 1960, but the telecast was cancelled because of the inability to get a Sherman tank for the premiere. The special showing, which was a benefit for the Hemophilia Foundation, was covered on radio. Among the celebrities interviewed were Juliet Prowse, Ronald Regan, and Cesar Romero.
     

  • Production on G.I. Blues began on May 2, 1960, and lasted until late June. All of Elvis’ scenes were filmed on the Paramount 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.
     

  • Originally, Elvis’s character was called 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 through the years, incorrectly used the original name. 
     

  • During filming on the Paramount lot, Elvis played host to King and Queen of Nepal, the King and Queen of Thailand, and princesses from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. 
     

  • 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. 
     

  • Actresses Leticia Roman (real name: Leticia Navarese) and Sigrid Maier made their screen débuts in G.I. Blues. Director Norman Taurog’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Priscilla, also made her first movie appearance in the film. She was one of the children in the puppet show scene.
     

  • 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. 
     

  • Jan Shepard, who played Elvis’s sister in King Creole, almost her own baby, Brandon, playing the part of the baby, but she refused when she found out that the baby was required to cry. According to her, her son hasn’t forgiven her ever since, “Mom, I could have been in G.I. Blues!”

  • Arch Johnson was an Associated Press correspondent in Europe before becoming an actor in the 1950s.
     

  • G.I. Blues was the first of nine Elvis movies directed by Norman Taurog. In 1913, at  the age of fourteen, Taurog began a short-lived acting career. He began directing at the age of twenty and eventually directed dozens of films, many of them classics. They include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  (1938) and Words and Music (1948). He won an Oscar for Best Director for Skippy (1931), in which he directed his nephew, Jackie Cooper, to a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Taurog received one other Academy Award nomination for Boy’s Town (1940). 
     

  • G.I. Blues was RCA’s first video disc. 
     

  • Elvis joked to the press, "It's not about my real experiences in the Army, they couldn't film that." 
     

  • Elvis broke a small bone in his hand while practicing Karate during the making of  the film. It's clearly swollen in one of the sequences in the Cafe Europa.
     

  • Colonel Parker rented two private railroad cars to take Elvis and his entourage from Memphis to Hollywood as Elvis was still afraid of flying in 1960. Elvis was mobbed in Los Angeles Union Station. 
     

  • Variety says, "The film seems to be a leftover from the frivolous musicals of the Second World War." 
     

  • Juliet Prowse was born in Bombay, India, and raised in South Africa. Her first film was Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), her second was Can-Can (1960), and her third was G.I. Blues. For a time, Prowse was Frank Sinatra’s fiancée. Elvis dated her briefly. In the 1965-1966 TV season, Prowse starred in her own series, Mona McCluskey. Died September 14, 1996 after complications for chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. 
     

  • G.I. Blues reached #2 on Variety’s weekly list of top-grossing films. For the year of  1960, it ranked #14, grossing an incredible $4,3 million the last six weeks of the year. 
     

  • Pretty Boy II – nickname of Tulsa McLean tank crew.
     

  • The Three Blazes – combo consisting of Tulsa, Rick and Cookey. The Three Blazes played in the Rathskeller, a German club owned by Papa Mueller. 
     

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

  • Question: how much did Papa Mueller pay Tulsa for singing in the Rathskeller the first night? Answer: 40 marks. 
     

  • The Chili Parlor – former business on the Oaklahoma Turn pike that Tulsa, Rick and Cookey wanted to transform into a hot night-spot after they were discharged from the army. To get the lease on the building, they needed $600.
     

  • Before entering the army, Tulsa worked in a gas station back in his native Oaklahoma. 
     

  • Sgt. Dynamite Bixby was shipped to Alaska because of his many extracurricular activities with the West German girls.
     

  • Tulsa’s friend Jeeter has been married six times. 
     

  • Henninger was the brand of beer sold at the Rathskeller. 
     

  • Café Europa – Frankfort nightclub where Lili was the featured performer. 
     

  • Tulsa learned to play the guitar from his grandfather, a full-blooded Chereokee Indian.
     

  • The real name of his Uncle Charlie was Leaping Bear. 
     

  • Tina was from Milan, Italy, where her father was a butcher. 
     

  • Fritz Liebe Emma, 1959 – message carved into a table on the boat taken by Tulsa and Lili from Cologne to Dusseldorf. Also seen were “Fritz Liebe Dora” and “Fritz Liebe Hilda.” This was a blooper as the correct German usage should have been “Fritz Liebt Emma.” 
     

  • Operation Lili-Europa – plan to observe Tulsa to see if he could spend the night with Lili. 
     

  • Question: what was the number on the side of the cable car taken by Tulsa and Lili up to the summit of the mountain? Answer: 76.
     

  • Question: in what city were Rick and Marla married? Answer: Heildelberg. 
     

  • Tiger – Tulsa and Lili’s nickname for Rick and Marla’s baby boy. 
     

  • Kaffeehaus – restaurant across from Lili’s apartment where Cookey, Mack, and Harvey spent the night waiting for Tulsa to leave. They wanted to confirm the fact that he had spent the night in her apartment so they would win a bet. 
     

  • Tulsa McLean was in the 3rd Armored Division. 
     

  • Didja’ Ever – Elvis’s last words in G.I. Blues. He looked at the viewer, said, “Didja’  ever,” and then kissed Juliet Prowse. 
     

  • Shortly after Elvis entered the army, his mother, Gladys Love Presley, died on August 14, 1958 – liver complications caused by her use of amphetamines (to loose weight) and beer (to numb her brain that did not want to conform with Elvis’s long periods of absence and with the fact that he would have to go to Germany to fulfil his army  obligations). Elvis would never totally recover from his mother’s death. 
     

  • It was in Germany that Elvis met Priscilla-Ann Beaulieu, in 1959. And it was during G.I. Blues shooting that he called her from the U.S. to complain that he did not like the movie, that he would only open his mouth to sing and “The song’s aren’t worth a cat’s ass!” Priscilla was more worried that Elvis got interested in Juliet Prowse.
     

  • In spite of Elvis’s opinion (whose ambition was to become a dramatic actor), the movie was a huge success and the songs covered many appropriate themes for the movie story. Wooden Heart / Tonight is So Right For Love reached #1 in March 1961. 
     

  • Before shooting started, Elvis and Hal Wallis spent many evenings just talking. “I can hardly wait for the shooting of this movie to start,” Wallis said. “He was always an interested student, often asking questions on how to improve. He left the army with flying colours. He went as a kid and got out as a man. He has once again proven  that he has the ability to do the best he can in something he sets his mind into. Elvis earned a new respect around the world.” 
     

  • When Juliet Prowse learned she was the one elected to play Elvis’s girlfriend in the movie, said, “This is the biggest thrill of my life! How lucky can one girl get? I don’t know Elvis, but I heard he’s charming.” Juliet and Elvis became friends. “He is just one of the kindest men I know – but to say we were in love is too much.” On the big screen Presley and Prowse were hot though.
     

  • Cookey, as Elvis’ friend and conspirer in the movie (Robert Ivers) told a New Yorker reporter, “Elvis is one of the nicest guys ever. When I first heard I was going to work with him, I got nervous. But I shouldn’t have been. It was a pleasure to work with him. He’s the greatest. He is as friendly and kind with an errand boy as he is with  the most important star.” 
     

  • Norman Taurog, on the first movie he directed for Elvis, also praised the star, “Very professional, constantly trying harder. If he made a mistake during rehearsals… he’d say, ‘Can we do that again?’ – he knew he wasn’t perfect.” 
     

  • Mickey Knox, who played a soldier in the movie, observed whenever a woman entered the movie set – whether Elvis knew her personally or not – he’d jump to offer her his chair. He talked with Elvis about it and this was what Elvis told him, “My mother raised me to have good manners and be a good Christian.” 
     

  • Shortly after the shooting for this movie was over, Elvis had a temper tantrum in Graceland. His aunt Lillian and a maid heard his shouting in the upper floor, “Don’t you get out! Don’t you dare to get out!” Then they heard him running down the stairs. Shortly after that they saw him pulling and ripping the dining-room’s curtains off. Dee Stanley, the woman his father Vernon had met in Germany and to whom he had gotten married, had redecorated Graceland during Elvis’s absence (during G.I. Blues shooting) without having talked with him about it. Elvis wanted everything the way it was when his mother had died (he had bought Graceland for her) and he was furious. It was after this incident that Vernon and Dee moved to a house near Graceland which Elvis, of course, bought for them.
     

  • The flag used in G.I. Blues was especially made for the film. It was 21 x 42 feet  with 14 inch stars and 18 inch stripes. 
     

  • Elvis was paid $175,000 for G.I. Blues, which was $75,000 more than he made in  King Creole. It was $50,000 more than his contract called for. Elvis would get an early release to film the movie. But the Colonel was stern on Elvis receiving no special treatment and serving his time. “We feel sure that by the time G.I. Blues appears on the screens through the world, some of his effort surely will pay off,” Colonel Parker wrote in a note to Wallis. 
     

  • The 52-ton M48 “Patton” tank as used in the film was developed during the early 1950s and designed for combat in Europe against Soviet tanks and had one of the most advanced fire control systems of that time. It was used by the U.S. Army until the 1980s. It remains in service with fifteen foreign countries today (as of 2006). The newer and faster M60, which weighted 57 tons, did not arrive in Europe until 1961-1962. When an M48 tank slipped its track during the filming, Elvis was able to use his training from the army to repair it. 
     

  • The boat Elvis boards ("Bonn"), is now (as of 2007) in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, and is used as a discotheque. 
     

  • Tulsa McLean’s uniform was patterned after Elvis’s original army outfit, with is characteristic shoulder sleeve patch. 
     

  • Despite the European locale, all of Presley’s scenes were filmed in Hollywood. 
     

  • All of the main cast scenes were filmed in Hollywood on indoor sets, in front of process events, and on back lots. Location and exterior shots were filmed in Germany, but they used stand-ins and were intercut with the process screen shots. 
     

  • During the filming of G.I. Blues, Elvis visited the set of All in a Night’s Work. Elvis went to sing Happy Birthday to Dean Martin who was starring in the film with Shirley McLaine. This was a surprise party for Dino, which was set up by Shirley. Elvis was joined by Hal Wallis for the party on June 17, 1960. 
     

  • In November 1959, during a meeting with Hill and Range, two Leiber and Stoller songs were selected, Tulsa’s Blues and Dog Face. Dog Face was also recorded by The Coasters yet never released. Dog Face was slang in the American army for enlisted soldiers. 
     

  • Dog Face was actually considered such a favourite, the title of the film was almost changed to such. Due to business disagreements with the Colonel and his deal with Hill and Range, Dog Face was disregarded. 
     

  • The rejection of Leiber / Stoller titles also meant one (more) thing – the end of exclusive songs to be written especially for Elvis Presley. As a result, with the exception of She’s Not You, Elvis never again recorded a song by the duo that was penned with him in mind. 
     

  • The song Pocketful of Rainbows, seemingly a duet with Elvis and Juliet Prowse, had Prowse lip-syncing to an unknown backup singer’s vocals. 
     

  • On Elvis’ uniform in G.I. Blues, Elvis’s name is always listed as Tulsa McLean. Yet if you watch the movie, his uniform says MAC LEAN. 
     

  • In 1961, G.I. Blues was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or TV. 
     

  • The same year, it won the second place in the Laurel Awards in the category of Top Musical, a Golden Laurel. 
     

  • Also in 1961, the film was nominated in the Writers Guild of America, WGA Award (screen) in the category of Best Written American Musical. 
     

  • 13 June 1960 – The Colonel on Elvis’s films, “They’ll never win any Academy Awards. All they are good for is making money.”

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