Viva Las Vegas

“Viva Las Vegas! Viva Elvis! Viva Ann-Margret! Viva the excitement when these two let themselves go on a wild and woolly whirl through FunTown, USA!” screamed the trailer for this giddy widescreen spectacular, pretty much summing up the reasons for the film's existence and its acclaim as Elvis's best movie. Viva's opening-credit montage of neon Las Vegas circa 1964 brought that town fully into the nation's consciousness, but it's Elvis and Ann-Margret who provide the real eye candy as they sing, dance, and grind their way down and around the Strip. Today, one can sense an accidental realism poking through the excess, with the old Strip and the surrounding deserts (not to mention a fit, sexually charged Elvis) serving as a glimpse into a now-vanished moment. “An American wet dream” (Howard Hampton), Viva Las Vegas seems barely contained by the Panavision frame, bursting with all the energy and vulgar glory of its stars and its city.

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