Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Genres - Musical, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance, Rock Musical  |   Release Date - Jun 17, 1964 (USA)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mark Deming

One of the tiny handful of post-Army Elvis Presley vehicles which can be enjoyed on a non-ironic level, Viva Las Vegas stacks up as one of the King's best movies largely because for a change he has a co-star who can match him for onscreen charisma -- Ann-Margret. If Ann-Margret can't equal Elvis for essential rock & roll cool, she has great comic timing, can actually sing, and still knows how to make the sparks fly onscreen, and together they display an easygoing but potent chemistry that Elvis rarely managed with his other leading ladies. While the story is pretty typical stuff (the Big E is a race driver trying to raise money to put his car back on the track), George Sidney keeps things light and lively and knows enough to stay out of the way of his stars. Elvis even gets a few decent songs this time out, including the classic title tune (written by Doc Pomus) and a fiery take of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." Add a stronger-than-average supporting cast (including William Demarest, Nicky Blair, Jack Carter, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-her bit part from Teri Garr) and you get an Elvis Presley movie you actually don't have to suffer through; if all of his pictures had displayed this level of competence, he wouldn't have had to apologize to his fans for his career in Hollywood.