Out of all of Elvis Presley’s leading ladies, can you even remember any of them other than Ann-Margret? She was the first and last who could match him croon for croon, shout for shout, swivel for swivel, pelvic thrust for pelvic thrust, For a G-rated movie, Viva Las Vegas nearly ignites with the energy from their sexual chemistry. (Indeed, the two had an off-camera fling that the film’s publicists did little to hide.) Probably neither of them knew at the time that they’d become prisoners of Vegas, the most celebrated songbirds in its gilded cage, but that time was still years ahead.
Here, it’s just silly, sexy fun as penniless race car driver Lucky (Presley) courts hotel swimming teacher Rusty (Ann-Margret) while trying to earn money for the custom engine he needs and fend off the attentions of a rival driver (Cesare Danova) trying to bird-dog his girl. It’s the usual silly Elvis movie plot, but there are still 10 excitingly-staged musical numbers. Director George Sidney, who had just directed the leading lady in Bye Bye Birdie, enjoyed making multiple cuts and using multiple camera angles, in a style that anticipated MTV videos by about two decades, but he also shot the movie’s title number in one uninterrupted take. Colonel Tom Parker balked at the fancy camera-work and the costly choreography, but the result was the biggest smash of Elvis’ screen career.
Next Ocean’s Eleven