Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Elvis Presley's third film based in Hawaii, features the singer as Greg 'Rick' Richards, a helicopter pilot who starts a charter service with his friend Danny, played by James Shigeta. Rick has coaxed three beautiful women employed at various tourist-related businesses around the Islands to steer customers to their helicopter service. Covering the office is beautiful Judy Hudson, played by Suzanna Leigh, whom Rick and Danny call 'Friday.' Danny fears that Rick will not be able to resist Judy so he tells the island Romeo that their girl 'Friday' is married.
A misunderstanding involving a forced helicopter landing results in Rick having his license temporarily suspended. Under orders from the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) not to fly, Rick risks his license to rescue Danny and his daughter from a deserted island.
The FAA understands the mitigating circumstances surrounding Rick's decision and assures him he will be able to fly again. In the meantime, Rick discovers that Judy is not married, and the two embark on romance.
The working title for this movie changed several times. Among them were 'Polynesian Paradise', 'Hawaiian Paradise' and 'Polynesian Holiday'. No matter the title, they were indeed in paradise. Filming took place in Honolulu at the Hanalei Plantation Resort in Kaui, the Maui Sheraton Hotel and on the Kona Coast. A number of scenes were filmed at the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu were Hawaiian customs, music and culture are preserved.
Paradise, Hawaiian Style French Movie Poster.
It was there that Elvis' friend Jerry Schilling met his his future wife Sandy Kawelo, who was a student and one of the Center's dancers in the film.
Much of the shooting for this film was done on location in Hawaii. While there, Elvis, his father Vernon Presley and manager Colonel Tom Parker visited the U.S.S.. Arizona Memorial, which Elvis' benefit concert in 1961 had helped to build. Together they laid a bell-saped wreath with 1,177 carnations - one for each serviceman lost there in December 1945 during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Elvis was ill for the first few days of pre-production for 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style', so the instrumentals for the soundtrack were recorded without him the last week in July 1965. Elvis was well enough to report to the set on August 2, 1965 and he was assigned to Tony Curtis's former dressing room on the Paramount lot. He dubbed his vocals for the soundtrack, had costume fittings and had an insurance physical before the cast and crew flew to Hawaii for location shooting on August. 5, 1965. Elvis and his entourage stayed at the Ilikai Hotel.
A party was given on August 18, 1965 at the Polynesian Cultural Center in honor of the film. Singer Peter Noone of the group Herman's Hermits interviewed Elvis there. The interview aired on radio the next day.
Peter Noone and Elvis Presley on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
Production on the film moved back to the mainland. A few days later on August 27, 1965, The Beatles visited with Elvis, their idol, at his Bel Air home. Only a small group of family and friends were on hand for this historic meeting that resulted in an impromptu jam session. Unfortunately, no one turned on a tape recorder or a home movie camera! Principal photography for 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style' finished on September 30, 1965. On the set that day Elvis met singer Tom Jones, with whom he would share a mutual respect.
Elvis completed dubbing and publicity photos by October 4, 1965 and returned to Memphis. There was a sneak preview of the movie in Memphis on June 9, 1966. It premiered in New York a week later and it opened nationwide on July 6, 1966. It ranked #40 for the year on Variety's list.
In 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style', English actress Suzanna Leigh played assistant/girl Friday Judy Hudson. She began her acting career as a young girl starring in both English and French productions. Film producer Hal Wallis spotted her and brought her to the U.S. for the 1965 film 'Boeing Boeing'. The actress now has a home and business in Memphis, Tennessee and has appeared at several Elvis fan events.
Golden Globe Award winner James Shigeta played Danny Kohana. This Hawaiian-born actor was known for his romantic lead roles in such films as 'Cry For Happy' and 'Flower Drum Song'. He was the voice of General Li in the 1998 animated film 'Mulan' and played Jimmy Chan in the 2002 movie 'A Ribbon of Dreams'.
Elvis Presley and James Shigeta on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
Jan Shepard played Betty Kohana. She worked with Elvis years earlier playing Mimi Fisher, the sister of Elvis's character, in his fourth film, 'King Creole'.
Donna Butterworth played the precocious child, Jan Kohana. She received a 1966 Golden Globe nomination the 1965 film 'The Family Jewels'. She made only three films before leaving the movie business.
The lovely ladies always willing to 'scratch your back' were actress Marianna Hill as Lani, Irene Tsu as Pua, Linda Wong as Lehaua, and Julie Parrish as Joanna.
Marianna Hill had worked with Elvis in 'Roustabout' and throughout her career has been known for many exotic roles of various ethnicities and for using various accents.
Irene Tsu was the 1961 winner of San Francisco's 'Miss Chinatown'. She continues her successful acting career and she has taught yoga for over twenty years.
Korean born Linda Wong moved to Hawaii in 1956 to study political science. In Hawaii she won a beauty contest and was signed to a movie contract.
Julie Parrish's career included films as well as long-time roles in several TV series. In recent years she was a regular guest at Elvis Week events in Memphis and became a special favorite of Elvis fans.
Character actor John Doucette played Donald Belden. Known for his deep voice, his long career included 149 movie roles and over 147 TV guest appearances.
Phillip Ahn played Moki Kaimana. He had a long career in film and TV. For many, his most recognized role was that of Master Kan in the 1970's television series 'Kung-Fu'.
Elvis Presley reprises a dramatic rendition of 'Drums of the Islands'.
Veteran actress of stage, radio, film and TV, Doris Packer played the eccentric dog owner, Mrs. Barrington. Throughout her career she was often cast as a wealthy or authoritative woman.
Comedic actor Grady Sutton was the befuddled Mr. Cubberson with his alligator shoes.
The choreography was handled by Jack Regas who was also serving as the Center's choreographer. His career included a number of variety series such as the 'Phyllis Diller Show' and 'The Filp Wilson Show'.
Nelson Tyler was the helicopter photographer who provided all the breath-taking Hawaiian footage. Over the years he has received two Technical Academy Awards for his development of helicopter camera systems.
The script was written by the team of Anthony Lawrence and Allan Weiss, who had previously received accolades for the 'Roustabout' script. They collaborated again on 'Easy Come, Easy Go'. Anthony Lawrence went on to write for many TV series as well as the 1979 television movie 'Elvis', starring Kurt Russell.
'Paradise, Hawaiian Style' was directed by Michael D. Moore, who had been an assistant director on six previous Elvis films. He and his brother Pat began their careers as child actors in silent films in the 1920s. Michael has continued to direct films. One of his latest projects was working on the 2000 film '102 Dalmatians'.
Recorded at: Radio Recorders Studios, 7000, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. August 1965.
Musicians: Elvis Presley (vocals), Scotty Moore, Barney Kessel, Charlie McCoy (guitars), Bernal Lewis (steel guitar), Ray Siegal (bass), D.J. Fontana, Hal Blaine, Victor Feldman (drums), Larry Muhoberac (piano), the Jordanaires & the Mello Men (vocals). The instrumental backing for most of these songs was laid down on 26 and 27 July, with Elvis adding his vocals the following week.
Directed Michael Moore
Writing Credits Anthony Lawrence, Allan Weiss
Producer Hal Wallis
Associate Producer Paul Nathan
Assistant Producer Jack Saper
Assistant Director James Rosenberger
Technical Advisors Howard Anderson and Colonel Tom Parker
Cast Overview: Elvis Presley .... Rick Richards, Suzanna Leigh .... Judy Hudson (Friday), James Shigeta .... Danny Kohana, Donna Butterworth.... Jan Kohana, Mariana Hill .... Lani Kaimana, Irene Tsu .... Pua, Linda Wong .... Lehua Kawena, Julie Parrish .... Joanna, Jan Shepard .... Betty Kohana, John Doucette .... Donald Belden, Philip Ahn .... Moki Kaimana, Mary Treen .... Mrs. Belden, Grady Sutton .... Mr. Cubberson.