Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Viva Las Vegas (aka Love in Las Vegas) (1964)

A good Elvis musical? Ironic, of course - but this could actually be his best post-army film, perhaps even the best film of all of his movie career. It may be brash, gaudy, and little more than a string of hits, but somehow "Viva Las Vegas" manages to be much more than the sum of its parts.

The plot is merely a vehicle to hang the tunes on, and seemingly put together with a glamorous tick-list: love interest - check, fast cars - check, songs - check. Elvis plays Lucky Jackson, a racing driver longing to win the Las Vegas Grand Prix and beat his arch enemy Count Elmo Cancini (Cesare Danova). In the meantime in order to earn enough cash to pump up his hot rod, he bobs around the casino restaurant singing and waiting tables while swimming teacher Rusty Martin (Ann-Margaret) looks on dreamily. If it sounds corny - it is, but that's the point. Who needs a plot when you've got songs like "Viva Las Vegas" and "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You"? This film is good precisely because the plot is so bad.

Ultimately it's hard to say exactly why you'll like it - but you will. Maybe it's because it manages to be a lot fresher that much of his later output. Maybe it's because the performances are good - and Ann-Margaret is a stunning all-singing, all-dancing female lead. But probably it's the overall impact of this bizarre, sugary, sunshine fantasy on a rainy winters evening. Take the time to see it, you'll be glad you did. Honestly.

"Viva Las Vegas" is on BBC2, 1.15pm, Saturday 25 November 2000.

End Credits

Director: George Sydney

Writer: Sally Benson

Stars: Elvis Presley, Ann-Margaret , Cesare Danova, William Demarest, Nicky Blair

Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance, Classic

Original: 1964

VHS: 31 July 2000

Country: USA

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