Quick Movie Review: Viva Las Vegas (1964)

viva las vegas

This film would never get made today. At least not with intents this transparent. It serves to glorify Elvis Presley and his embodiment. But back in 1964, these types of B-movies were just accepted. Nowadays teen cinema consists of a post-apocalyptic love triangle. Much more realistic. Not quite as blatant.

Elvis plays Lucky, a race car driver who’s in Las Vegas to compete in the Vegas Grand Prix. He needs a new engine but is strapped for cash due to contrived reasons. He falls for Rusty (Ann-Margret) who seems to be abruptly against his racing ways.

This movie is all over the place. About halfway through it becomes disjointed, making it obvious what its purpose is. For a pointless, plotless story, it’s way too convoluted.

For an 84 minute film, it takes its sweet time, attempting to thin itself out to cover the short runtime. But then, once it realizes it’s home free, the story progresses ridiculously fast and things never get resolved.

Elvis and Ann-Margret have undeniable chemistry, but their depth is almost non-existent. Lucky’s motivations are unclear, and Rusty goes from a likable, independent worker woman at the beginning of the film to an incompetent bimbo by the end.

The songs and dance numbers are impressively catchy, but that’s all this movie is. The few glamorous Las Vegas shots are nice, but there aren’t nearly enough in a movie with the city’s name in the title. It almost seems like a blown opportunity to make a cool story about gambling or mobsters. Instead, it’s about racing–something few of us think of when talking about Vegas.

It’s a dated movie, but that’s perhaps the best thing this film has to offer. There are some cool shots of the Vegas of yesteryear. There’s one in particular showing the front of the Flamingo as it used to be–alone, with nothing on either side. Contrastingly, we get a shot of Fremont Street in all its garish glory–busy and crowded, sans the 1,500 foot canopy movie screen overhead. While watching this, my fiancée turns to me and says, “You used to be able to drive down Fremont Street???” My, how things have changed.

Twizard Rating: 57

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