Viva Las Vegas

The DVD Deluxe edition (August 2007), commemorating the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, includes the digitally remastered film, commentary by Steve Pond (author of “Elvis in Hollywood”), a new segment, “Elvis in Vegas,” remastered soundtrack in Dolby Digital, theatrical trailer, and a free 24-page photo book.

Film Review

Considered to be on of Elvis Presley's tow or three best musicals,” Viva Las Vegas” benefits from the exuberant direction of vet MGM director George Sidney, the charming company of Ann-Margaret, then a rising star, short running time (only 85 minutes), half of which taken by songs.

Elvis plays Lucky Jackson, a race car driver who comes to Las Vegas to compete in the Grand Prix against his rival, Count Elmo Cancini (Cesare Danova). To earn money for a new engine, he takes a job as a waiter at a casino, and begins to romance its new swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret).

In his leisure time, Elvis sings many wonderful tuners, including the title song, “Viva Las Vegas,” “The Lady Loves Me,” “I Need Someone to Lean On,” “What'd I Say” (by Ray Charles), “Come On, Everybody” (Stanley Chianese); “Today, Tomorrow, and Forever,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas (by George), and “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You.” Since he's often prevailed upon to sing, you wonder why he should not have looked for a job as a singer!

Elvis's popular vehicles stick to the formula of most of his flicks, defined by slender narratives, one-dimensional characters, and plenty of opportunities for songs. Thus, at first, Lucky Jackson (could they assign his a better screen name) chases all the wrong girls, only to ignore the “right” one, portrayed by Ann-Margret in her youthful prime, as the daughter of irascible William Demarest; never mind that the duo don't look like a family.

With technical execution that's better than the norm for an Elvis flick, Presley still in good physical shape, gorgeously sexy Ann-Margret, and at least 12 melodic songs on the soundtrack, “Viva Las Vegas” was a huge box-office hit. The movie helped Elvis to maintain his status and catapulted Ann-Margret to the A-list of Hollywood actresses, after appealing turns in the still-underestimated musical, “Bye Bye Birdie,” the year before.

Cast

Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley)
Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret)
Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Danova)
Mr. Martin (William Demarest)
Shorty Fransworth (Nicky Blair)
Jack Carter (himself)
Swanson (Robert B. Williams)
Big Gus Olson (Bob Nash)
Baker (Roy Engel)
Mechanic (Barnaby Hate)

Credits

Running time: 85 Minutes
Produced by Jack Cummings and George Sidney
Directed by George Sidney
Screenplay: Sally Benson
Camera: Joseph Biroc
Editor: John McSweeney
Music: George Stoll
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Edward Carfagno
Choreography; David Winters
Costume: Don Feld

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