This GI hasn't got a Wooden Heart
Didja' ever, Didja' ever get, Didja' ever get one, Didja' ever get one of those feelings that all Elvis Presley's movies were built about one thing, Elvis singing. Be it on a train, in a shower there was no where wrong for an Elvis song. "GI Blues" Elvis's 5th movie was no different to the majority of his others, a simple storyline which feels like its purpose is to fill in the gaps between various musical numbers. But then in a strange way this is not a criticism as the simple romantic storyline to "GI Blues" works well in conjunction with the numerous musical interludes, many of which including Elvis singing "Wooden Heart" at a puppet show are very memorable.
Whilst working as a specialist in the US Army stationed in Germany, Tulsa (Elvis Presley - King Creole) and his friends Cookie (Robert Ivers) and Rick (James Douglas) dream of owning a nightclub when they leave the force. But there dream will need money so Tulsa lays a bet on his friend Dynamite being able to score with popular night club dancer Lili (Juliet Prowse), who is notoriously hard to get. Unfortunately Dynamite gets transferred before he can even try and Tulsa finds him having to fill in. The trouble is whilst he tries to woo Lili he also realises that he is falling in love with her.
So if you stripped away all the musical numbers which revolve around Elvis "GI Blues" would not only be cut down by about a third but also would be a very simple and obvious romantic storyline. I say obvious because most of the movie revolves around Tulsa trying to woo Lili in-order to win a bet, only to realise that he is actually falling for her and in classic style the bet comes back to basically cause romantic issues. There are other storylines, Tulsa's reason for being involved in the bet to get the money to buy a nightclub, his best mate Cookie falling for the lovely Tina and Rick's romantic issues with Marla. But the central storyline is the romance between Tulsa and Lili which is all very stereotypical but pleasant to watch.
But not being nasty, one of the main reasons you watch an Elvis movie is for all the musical scenes which allow The King to deliver one of his well known songs or a forgettable little ditty which fills in when things are dull, such as the G.I.'s on the train to Frankfurt. Thankfully the dull musical moments are outweighed by some very memorable ones. Both versions of "GI Blues" which Elvis sings, especially the final one are both very good as is the amusing scene which sees a disgruntled G.I. stick Elvis's own "Blue Suede Shoes" on the Juke Box when he tires of Tulsa's romantic ballad. But the most memorable is the puppet show where Elvis sings "Wooden Heart" to a puppet, a truly magical scene full of charm and cuteness.
As for the actual performances, well not only does Elvis look good in his G.I. uniform he also looks very comfortable performing. Being only his fifth movie that look of disenchantment hadn't begun to affect Elvis's performance and you can see the enthusiasm he had for acting. Plus of course with so many musical numbers, the few scenes which did require him to act are quite minimal. Along side Elvis there are some nice, adequate performances from Juliet Prowse as Lili, Robert Ivers as Cookie and Leticia Roman is quite striking as Cookie's love interest Tina.
What this all boils down to is that "GI Blues" is very much a standard Elvis movie, built around his songs with a simple romantic storyline almost working to fill in the gaps. But it's a lovely performance from Elvis, enthusiastic without any signs of disillusionment which started to creep in to his later movies. Whilst you may not watch "GI Blues" or any of Elvis's movies for the story, the songs are always good and his rendition of "Wooden Heart" at the puppet show is just magical.