|Ann Margret & Elvis Presley show us how it's done on the dance floor.|
The same aunt that introduced me to The Wizard Of Oz and Dracula when I was a child, introduced me to Viva Las Vegas a few years later when I was slightly older. (She's got incredible taste in movies). My aunt was, and still is, obsessed with The King (Elvis, DUH!) and she had almost every single one of his films on VHS. Viva Las Vegas, Tickle Me, and Blue Hawaii were my favourites.
But I really want to talk about Viva Las Vegas because this is the Elvis film that really stands out in my mind as being his best. He was young, he was virile, he got tossed into a pool by Ann Margret, and he looked like he wanted to bed his co-star at every moment.
This film was made in 1964 on location in Las Vegas at the then-new Flamingo Hotel. Despite the fact that Elvis was dating girlfriend (and later wife) Priscilla Beaulieu at the time this film was made, the chemistry between him and co-star Ann Margret was very real (and very evident on-screen). The two engaged in an illicit affair that had journalists' and entertainment columnists' tongues wagging. Ultimately Elvis and Ann Margret called their relationship off and each went their separate ways - Elvis married Priscilla in 1967 and Ann Margret married Roger Smith that same year.
The film's plot is a simple one: a Las Vegas swimming instructor (Ann Margret) falls in love with a dashing race car driver (Presley). She'd like him to give up his racing career because she fears for his safety but he is dedicated to the sport and spends the entire film trying to raise enough money to buy a brand spanking new engine for his car. In between scenes, Elvis and Ann Margret showcase their singing and dancing prowess, all the while making goo goo ga ga eyes at each other (and setting the dance floor on FI-YAH!). Their chemistry in this film reminds me of the very real chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have & Have Not (their first film together). Both couples literally set the screen on fire and audiences were left gasping for breath every time the co-stars came within a hair's breadth of each other.
I think the main reason why I love this film so much is because of the movie's soundtrack. I swear, I could listen to these songs all freaking day: Viva Las Vegas, What'd I Say, If You Think I Don't Need You, C'mon Everybody, & The Lady Loves Me (dude, I think we ALL do!). As well as the songs, the dance numbers in this film are oddly phenomenal - I say "oddly" because they're all fairly simple with little or no production at all. All this film really needed was an empty stage, two unbelievably good-looking co-stars and some music. Done!
Before I publish this post, there is one story I feel needs to be told here: when my aunt and I used to watch this film together in my grandparents' basement, the two of us used to get up and dance during all the musical numbers. One day, during an emotionally-charged rendition of C'mon Everybody I raised my arms to the ceiling and smashed my grandparents' hanging light fixture to smithereens. Heh. It honestly sounded like a bomb had gone off and my whole family came running to see what had happened. What they were greeted with was me and my aunt standing in front of the television looking blankly at each other while Elvis and Ann Margret carried on their musical sequence on-screen with nary a broken light fixture in sight.
If you haven't seen this film, YOU SERIOUSLY NEED TO RIGHT NOW. Go, I'll wait for you.
Just go! NOW!