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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Although Elvis Presley died more than 40 years ago, the King of Rock and Roll’s legacy lives on in his music and the films in which he played a starring role.
In honor of what would have been Elvis’s 85th birthday, the Colfax Commercial Club, in conjunction with the Colfax Public Library and the Colfax Elevator Commission, will be showing a double feature matinee on Saturday, January 11, with two Elvis Presley films, “Blue Hawaii” and “Viva Las Vegas,” in the Colfax Municipal Building’s Cozy Theater.
Elvis’s 85th birthday is on January 8.
No admission will be charged for the movies, although if anyone feels so inclined, the donation jar for the municipal building elevator project will be available.
“Throughout the year, the collaborative efforts of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, the library and the Colfax Commercial Club have tried to bring a variety of events to the Cozy Theater,” said Mark Johnson, president of the Commercial Club.
“One event that has been popular and cost effective for our groups are the movies we have shown,” he said.
“Through random solicitations of movie ideas, my Aunt Linda (Johnson) Andres suggested showing an Elvis movie. She went so far as stating that she would drive down from northern Minnesota to watch an Elvis movie in her hometown,” Johnson said.
“So, with the seed planted, and after researching Elvis movies and picking the date to coincide with the anniversary of his birthday on January 8, we picked two movies to show January 11,” he said.
“We welcome movie suggestions or other forms of entertainment for the theater as we continue to fund-raise for the elevator project,” Johnson said.
“Blue Hawaii” was filmed in 1961 and is described as a musical romantic comedy set in Hawaii and starring Elvis Presley as Chadwick Gates.
The screenplay was written by Hal Kanter, and the Writers Guild of America nominated it for Best Written American Musical in 1962.
Although critics gave the movie mixed reviews, “Blue Hawaii” was the tenth top-grossing movie in 1961 and came in fourteenth in 1962 for the “Variety” national box office survey.
In the film, Gates has just been discharged from the U.S. Army and has returned to Hawaii and his surfboard, his friends and his girlfriend, Maile Duval, played by Joan Blackman.
Gates’ mother, Sarah Lee Gates, played by Angela Lansbury, whose career covered eight decades, including the long-running television show, “Murder, She Wrote,” wants him to take over the family business, the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company.
Gates is not especially interested in working in the family business, so he takes a job as a tour guide at his girlfriend’s business.
After one of the tour company’s clients causes a fight in a restaurant, Gates is fired by Mr. Chapman, played by Howard McNear.
McNear is remembered for his role as Floyd, the barber, in “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Maile quits her job as a tour guide after Gates is fired, although they continue providing tour guide services to their first clients.
Eventually Gates reconciles with his father, and Gates and his girlfriend form their own tour guide business. They make arrangements to provide tours for Gates’ father’s fruit salesmen in the United States and Canada.
“Blue Hawaii” ends with a lavish outdoor Hawaiian wedding for Gates and Maile.
Viva Las Vegas
“Viva Las Vegas” was filmed in 1964 and is described as a musical. George Sidney directed the film, which starred Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret.
“Viva Las Vegas” also came in fourteenth on the “Variety” box office list of top-grossing movies in 1964.
In the film, Presley plays Lucky Jackson, who travels to Las Vegas for the city’s first annual Grand Prix Race. Jackson plans to race his Maserati, but the car needs a new engine before it can be entered in the event.
Jackson is able to raise the money he needs in Las Vegas, but he loses the money when the hotel’s swimming instructor, Rusty Martin, played by Ann-Margret, shoves him into the swimming pool.
Jackson begins working as a waiter at the hotel to pay his hotel bill and to raise enough money to compete in the hotel’s talent contest with the hope of winning a sizable-enough cash prize to replace the engine in his Maserati.
Throughout the movie, Jackson has tried to win Rusty’s affection, and by the end of the movie, Rusty has fallen in love with Jackson.
“Blue Hawaii” will begin in the Cozy Theater at 1 p.m. Saturday, January 11.
Concessions will be provided by the Colfax Commercial Club.
An intermission will follow “Blue Hawaii,” and “Viva Las Vegas” will begin at 3 p.m.
People are welcome to come for either movie or stay for both movies, Johnson said.
Admission is free.