Viva Las Vegas (1964)
“Can you check my motor? It whistles.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… directed with flair by George Sidney and featuring vivid sets and costumes, rousing song-and-dance numbers, nice use of Vegas locales, and a super-fun romantic rivalry (with plenty of genuine sparks flying).
It’s hard to pick a favorite musical number, given that nearly all of them satisfy both musically and choreographically (and there’s a nice mix of on-stage and “narrative driving” songs). The title number, naturally, will stick in your head long after it’s done (just reading this review has likely placed it there…):
… but my personal picks would probably be “The Lady Loves Me” and “Appreciation”.
The storyline — consisting of a love triangle, rivalry for musical dominance, and a car race — is appropriately fluffy yet relevant enough to ground the songs in a realistic context. As noted in the New York Times’ review, Viva Las Vegas “remains friendly, wholesome and pretty as all get-out”, and is certainly worth a film fanatic’s time.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Viva Las Vegas (1964)”
A once-must, for the chemistry between Presley and Ann-Margret.
This could arguably be the only Presley film that film fanatics (as opposed to Presley fans) ‘need’ to catch – and even that’s said with some generosity. Ultimately, it’s not that good a film. But, as a harmless popcorn flick, it’s saved due to its stars having fun while they’re pretty clearly making goo-goo eyes at each other. (During the shoot, they apparently worked themselves up enough to have a brief-ish romance afterwards.)
The script (by Sally Benson – who co-wrote ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ and worked on a number of other high-profile Hollywood flicks) is serviceable but still nonsensical; it’s really just an excuse to highlight what we know will happen in the first ten minutes: boy gets girl.
Presley’s acting isn’t all that different from what he usually does in most of his flicks – he just seems to be having more fun. A-M’s big moment arrives when she dives into her somewhat-Marilyn Monroe turn with ‘Appreciation’ (she does sell that one and it’s a fun song).
If you’re hanging out with your cult-film-fan friends, you will likely have a reasonable amount of fun. Personally, I think the film is a little too reined-in and could have been more fun had it been a little wackier, but EP and A-M make it worth a whirl.