Viva Las Vegas (1964)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Viva Las Vegas</strong> (1964)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) Come to Vegas for Elvis, stay for Ann-Margret. At least that’s my reaction to Viva Las Vegas: While the film remains Presley’s best-known film (he made 31 of them in 13 years, but few of them have endured), the real draw here is Ann-Margret as practically the equal to Presley. The plot reads like a melting pot of mid-1960s teenage obsessions, in between the racing, gambling, dancing and singing. The plot naturally leads to an amiable atmosphere and ten snappy musical numbers (including the one-shot of Elvis singing the classic title tune). The portrait of Las Vegas in the early 1960s is simply fascinating, especially considering how the city has changed since then. There’s also a pretty good car race at the climax of the film. Still, the one reason to watch Viva Las Vegas even today is seeing Presley measure up to Ann-Margret—she’s a dynamo of red-headed energy here, and it’s good to see a film in which both romantic leads are equally strong.

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