Hawaii Maybe Paradise but this Movie isn't
Whilst I enjoy many of Elvis Presley's movies I have to say that "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" is one of those which I don't. It's what you could most definitely call a pointless movie with barely any storyline and sadly neither Elvis's performance or the various expected musical scenes make it any better. It's no surprise that Elvis grew tired of making movies when he was given the likes of "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" to make.
Having been sacked as a pilot from the major airlines for his women chasing antics, Rick Richards (Elvis Presley - Frankie and Johnny) returns to Hawaii and hooks up with his old friend Danny Kohana (James Shigeta), a helicopter pilot who charters flights across the islands. Having talked Danny into allowing him to join the business, Rick sets about flying around each of the resorts hooking up with old girlfriends whilst trying to drum up business. But after nearly crashing a helicopter whilst transporting dogs and then becoming stranded on a beach with Danny's daughter Jan (Donna Butterworth) it seems that Rick's career as a charter pilot will be short lived.
For a movie which barely gets past the 90 minute mark there is barely 10 minutes of storyline, or at least storyline which doesn't revolve around Elvis, women and singing. You see for the first hour "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" continually builds up this image of Rick Richards as this playboy pilot with a woman in every resort. We get shot after shot of Rick flying to a resort where he flirts with one of his previous girlfriends to the point that you begin to wonder whether there will be anything else.
The something else comes after that first hour where Rick, a woman and a young girl get stranded on a beach and although it's the least dramatic storyline going that is basically the only drama in the entire movie. And having given us 10 minutes of drama "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" returns to type with more women and women troubles for Rick. Now on the hole you don't watch most Elvis movies for a great storyline but this storyline is one of the worst I have watched in any movie and ultimately is pointless.
Of course Elvis movies are basically built around the King's handsome good looks and his singing. Well it has to be said that by 1966 and "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" Elvis was looking increasingly puffy and although he still had his looks he was certainly not the hunk which appeared in his earlier movies. In fact there are various beach scenes, one in particular where Rick goes for a swim, but where as once Elvis would have proudly shown of his physique, in "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" he obviously covers up, towel draped over himself.
As for the singing well other than the repeated "Drums of the Islands" the rest are for the most unmemorable except for one where young Donna Butterworth joins in and that only works because it has the cute factor. Actually the song with Donna Butterworth is the only time in the movie where Elvis genuinely looks to be enjoying himself rather than just going through the motions.
That is part of the issue with "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" because it feels like a movie which is going through the motions with all the actors just doing what they need to and nothing more. Yes the bevy of beauties which include Suzanna Leigh, Marianna Hill, Irene Tsu and Linda Wong are all attractive but the chemistry between them and Elvis is zero. James Shigeta as Danny Kohana gives the most natural but ultimately dull performance which leaves Donna Butterworth as Danny's daughter Jan who at least is a bright spark in an ultimately dull movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" is most definitely one of the worst Elvis Presley movies and if it's the only one you have watched don't think that all Elvis movies are as dull as this. There is very little to praise in "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" and if you want to understand why Elvis grew disillusioned over his movie career you only need to watch this to work out why.