Monday, September 03, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Elvis plays a race car driver, Ann-Margret's a hotel swimming instructor, and together they sing, dance, and fall in love in Las Vegas. Enough said about the plot of VIVA LAS VEGAS, which is a good excuse for 85 minutes of very colorful, tuneful fun -- perfect holiday weekend viewing.

I was inspired to try this film after reading a couple of enthusiastic blog posts at
Something Old, Nothing New and Moon in the Gutter. Something Old, Nothing New has a YouTube video of Ann-Margret's great number "My Rival," which was shot in one long, uninterrupted take.

I'm glad I gave the movie a try, as there are many other entertaining sequences. The high-energy title song is the perfect backdrop for some amazing shots of '60s-style Vegas neon signs. My favorite scene, "The Lady Loves Me," is a delightful number with Elvis and Ann-Margret singing poolside. The appealing location shooting adds to the number's charm. I went back and took another look at this song after I'd finished the movie.

The supporting cast includes William Demarest, Cesare Danova, and, if you don't blink, Teri Garr can be spotted dancing. You can also catch glimpses of Elvis's bodyguard Red West, who went on to appear in TV's BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP in the '80s. IMDb lists Kent McCord of ADAM-12 as an extra, but I didn't notice him this time around.

VIVA LAS VEGAS was directed by longtime MGM musical director George Sidney, whose credits included THE HARVEY GIRLS, SHOW BOAT, and KISS ME KATE. (My only quibble with this film is that Sidney never missed a chance for a close-up of someone's lower backside. He was probably trying to be "with the times" but given his history you'd think he'd have a little more good taste than that, '60s or not...) It was produced by MGM's Jack Cummings, producer of my favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.

VIVA LAS VEGAS is available on DVD. Extras include a commentary track and a nice book of stills from the film. There is also a featurette, but only a portion of it focused on the film. The DVD print is excellent, colorful and crisp.

The movie has also had a video release.

VIVA LAS VEGAS can also be seen on cable as part of the library at TCM. The trailer can be seen here.

1 Comments:

Blogger MC said...

My only quibble with this film is that Sidney never missed a chance for a close-up of someone's lower backside. He was probably trying to be "with the times" but given his history you'd think he'd have a little more good taste than that

Supposedly Sidney had a huge crush on Ann-Margret, and his admiration for her lovely figure is very obvious in the movie. LOL. In fact, Sidney was paying so much attention to Ann-Margret and giving her such loving attention on screen that Elvis's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, got pretty upset and gave Sidney and the studio a piece of his mind. Elvis was the big star, after all!

Meanwhile, Elvis was so in love with Ann-Margret that at a certain point he asked Parker to manage her career as well as his -- a huge request, given that Parker devoted all his energies to Elvis and only Elvis. He was that smitten, though.

The behind the scenes stuff about this movie is almost as fun as the movie itself. Certainly a lot juicier. ;)

MC

9:26 AM  

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