Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tonight's Movie: The Las Vegas Story (1952)

THE LAS VEGAS STORY is my kind of movie: RKO, Victor Mature, Jane Russell, Hoagy Carmichael, location filming in Vegas, fabulous sets, lots of neon...what's not to like?!

Lloyd and Linda Rollins (Vincent Price and Russell) arrive in Vegas trailed by Tom Hubler (Brad Dexter), who claims to be an insurance agent keeping an eye on Linda's gorgeous necklace.

It soon becomes apparent that Lloyd is having financial troubles which he hopes to rectify at the gambling tables. Linda, meanwhile, is fighting memories of her wartime romance in Vegas with Dave Andrews (Mature), now a lieutenant on the police force.

Lloyd hocks the necklace to Clayton (Robert J. Wilke), the owner of the establishment where Linda once worked as a singer. The next morning Clayton turns up dead and the necklace is missing...

I liked this movie a lot. Sure, there are a couple of issues, for instance I was never clear why on earth Linda had married Lloyd -- talk about an odd couple! -- and Linda and Dave spend most of the movie glowering at each other. Truth to tell, when they finally have something of a romantic scene, it's fairly perfunctory and doesn't generate much heat.

Those are minor issues, however. It's a nice mystery peopled with fun characters in a terrific setting. Mature and Russell look fabulous, and when she sings "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and "My Resistance is Low" with Hoagy Carmichael, it simply makes me happy.

Then there's Colleen Miller of FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER (1954) in her very first film, as a would-be teen bride...Jay C. Flippen as the hapless sheriff who has a bantering relationship with Dave...great faces like Will Wright and Milton Kibbee (very funny as the Coroner), not to mention a great voice, Paul Frees, playing the District Attorney. The initial shots of Las Vegas signs will make any lover of neon happy, even though they're in black and white...and wait till you get a look at the shower in Jane Russell's penthouse hotel room! I think my jaw dropped when I saw it.  Oh, and did I mention there's a heck of a helicopter chase?!

With Russell, Price, and the resort setting, the film has some similarities to HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951), which also starred Robert Mitchum. While Vincent Price was very funny in HIS KIND OF WOMAN, for the most part, THE LAS VEGAS STORY is the more lighthearted film of the two. As a matter of fact, the coroner may have the funniest lines!

James McKay writes in the new book THE FILMS OF VICTOR MATURE: "This is a cracking 1950s film noir that simply gets better each time you view it...The film may be as lazy as lounging around a hotel pool with a cold beer...but it hits all the right buttons for me." Yep. Whatever flaws it may have, this is the kind of movie I simply enjoy spending time with.

THE LAS VEGAS STORY was directed by Robert Stevenson, whose best films include the Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine JANE EYRE (1943), OLD YELLER (1957), and MARY POPPINS (1964). It was photographed by Harry J. Wild and runs 87 minutes.

THE LAS VEGAS STORY is available in a remastered print from the Warner Archive. The disc includes a trailer.

This film has also been shown on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is available at the TCM website.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I enjoyed this movie, too. It may not gel in certain parts, as you say, but it's got a little bit of everything. Jane Russell is great in those song scenes, and the helicopter finish is a real surprise.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Good to get your review. It's a film that hasn't always been popular but I've always liked it. Especially Jane's songs and the great Hoagy Carmichael.
I never understood why Linda had left Dave in the first place, and, as you say, why did she marry Rollins.
Could have done without the teen couple story.
Brad Dexter always good too.
Loved Dave's apartment.
Good chase at the end.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad to know this film has fellow fans! Despite its flaws it's got a lot of nice elements -- some of those chopper moves were jaw-droppers!

I did think the teenage couple was cute. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:15 AM  
Blogger James McKay said...

Laura,

Yes, definitely a film worthy of higher praise than it received, with both Vic and and Jane Russell on top form. I'd love to get the two Russell songs on CD, but I don't think they're available.

The other night I watched Vic in one of my favourite tearjerkers, the Frank Borzage wartime drama China Doll. I challenge anyone to come away from this film without a tear in your eye.

Best

Jim McKay

1:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for stopping by to share additional thoughts, James! I appreciate the recommendation of CHINA DOLL -- I haven't seen it but I admire Frank Borzage. (Just saw his HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT on a big screen last week.) I recorded CHINA DOLL a while ago so I'll be catching up with it at some point!

Best wishes,
Laura

6:48 PM  

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