By 1960 it had been two years since Presley had made his last film, King Creole. Despite his previous three films being mostly slated by the critics, they warmed to King Creole and its star.Presley felt confident that he had a future in acting after this praise and he was looking forward to returning to Hollywood after his time in the army.
Eight months prior to Presley being discharged, producer Hal Wallis visited with him in Germany to go over the script for G.I. Blues and film some on-location scenes. Although some scenes were used in the final film, Presley did not film at any time during his time there. The U.S. Army supplied tanks and vehicles on manoeuvres to be used in the filming, and appointed public information officer John J. Mawn (1915–2007) as technical advisor for the film. Mawn had presided over Presley's military press conferences.
Presley returned to the U.S. in March 1960 and began work on the film in late April. The film, which was not well received by critics, was released on November 23, 1960, and finished the year as the fourteenth biggest box office grossing film of 1960 generating $4.3 million. Despite critics being dismissive of the overall plot, they did praise Presley's acting ability and the film was nominated for three awards in 1961: Best Soundtrack album Grammy, Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Album, Male, and WGA Best Written Musical. Presley's return to the screen led to a riot in a Mexico City theater showing G.I. Blues, prompting the Mexican government to ban Presley's movies.
The success of G.I. Blues may have ironically been the catalyst for the formulaic films that Presley was to make for much of the 1960s. His next two films, Flaming Star and Wild in the Country, were more straight acting vehicles, with fewer songs and a more serious approach to the plot lines. However, despite Presley relishing a meatier role and enjoying the chance to act dramatically, both films were less successful at the box office than G.I. Blues had been, resulting in a return to the musical-comedy genre with Blue Hawaii as his next film role. Blue Hawaii proved to be even more profitable than G.I. Blues and set in stone the future of Presley's Hollywood career.