Viva Las Vegas

By Blogcritics/ David BowlingJul 12, 2008
Viva Las Vegas
1964 was a very busy year for Elvis Presley. Three movies, two soundtracks, one EP, assorted singles, his pursuit of Priscilla, and a public affair left very little time for anything else. The movie and soundtrack releases of Kissin’ Cousins at the beginning of the year and Roustabout at the end were poor to average at best. Sandwiched in the middle, however, was one of Elvis’ best movies that did not have a complete soundtrack release at the time. That oversight has been corrected in recent years.
Viva Las Vegas was Elvis’ most successful film, commercially. It also featured Ann-Margret, with whom Elvis would have a year long affair. The chemistry between the two is very apparent. They would remain friends until the end of his life. The film benefited from the direction of veteran George Sidney. He re-shot scenes over and over and from different angles. He angered Col. Tom Parker by exceeding the film’s budget, but did produce a slick, commercial movie that ranks as one of Elvis’ best and remains very entertaining.

The movie may have had the strongest set of songs of any Elvis film and it is inconceivable that a complete soundtrack album was not issued by the RCA label at the time. Ann-Margret, who sang a number of songs was also under contract to RCA, so that was not an issue. One single and a four song EP were all that were released in 1964. Today the full soundtrack has been issued on CD a number of times and is well worth seeking out.

“Viva Las Vegas” remains a classic Presley song. Elvis’ vocal performance can be called joyous. His voice had matured over the previous several years and had a quality and timbre that has rarely been matched. History says that Elvis recorded this song in one take. Why it failed as a single is beyond me as it stands on its own outside the context of the film.

Elvis was always able to take classic songs by other artists and transform them into his own creations. Here Elvis takes the rhythm & blue standard, “What’d I Say” and gives it a driving rock performance. Elvis acquits himself well when comparing this version to the well known Ray Charles performance.

Ann-Margret was a seasoned singer and performer by this time and she sings on a number of tracks. “The Lady Loves Me” and “You’re The Boss” which was not used in the film, but is included on the modern day CD releases, are duets and both show the chemistry between the two stars. She gives the songs a sensual appeal and Elvis has the professionalism not to overwhelm her vocals. Ann-Margret steps forward and sings lead on “Appreciation” and “My Rival.” Ann-Margret was such a visual presence at this point in her career that seeing her perform may be preferable to just listening to her but overall the songs are fine.

The album has a number of other treats by Elvis. “C’mon Everybody” is good up-tempo pop that Elvis had become very proficient at creating by this time in his career. “I Need Somebody To Love” gives the feel of a small Vegas lounge act and I say that in a good way. Elvis creates an intimate feel for the listener. “If You Think I Don’t Need You” goes in a different direction and shows just how versatile Elvis was on this soundtrack and in the movie. This is an up-beat dance number that almost makes me get up and dance. Elvis even gets some mileage out of the old standards, “Yellow Rose Of Texas/The Eyes Of Texas,” which very few performers could accomplish.

Viva Las Vegas, both the film and the modern day CD soundtrack, are essential Elvis and remain highly entertaining. It was amazing what Elvis could produce when motivated by good material and a sound script. The energy of and the attraction to Ann-Margret was also an important ingredient. This soundtrack has been released in several forms on CD but most all are will allow you to hear the movie Elvis at his best.


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boppin bob (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 15, 2008report abuse
What can I say one of my favourites. It always gets 4 stars when ever it is shown on tv which is nice to see for an Elvis movie. Also when you watch this movie you cannot help but see the chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margaret. I feel that working with this beautiful and sexy lady helped Elvis to raise his game delivering some wonderful tunes and it sure looked like he was enjoying performing both the title track and the excellent C'mon everybody.
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
Correction, in my previous comment, I mean't to say 1964 instead of saying 1963 when referring to the year the film came out.
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
The album that never was but should have been in 1963. Great songs like "Viva Las Vegas", the underrated "C'mon Everybody" & "What'd I Say" along with the Ann Margrett duets made this one of the better collections of movies songs from that era. Again, the Coloniel was asleep at the wheel on this one. Why didn't he have Elvis appear on the Sullivan show doing a live version of "Viva Las Vegas" & "What'd I Say" to promte the movie and album that should have been? Maybe even Ann could have appeared too and done a duet live with Elvis? Looking through most of Elvis career, they seem to miss the obvious and drop the ball on so many opportunities right in front of them. How did they determine that awful songs like "Earth Boy" in "Girls, Girls , Girls" was the right choice but putting an album out like "Viva Las Vegas" was the wrong choice? The Coloniel took the golden eggs from the goose and often dipped them in bronze it looks like to me. So frustrating and so many missed opportunities.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
Great songs in this one, especially C´Mon Everybody. The Lady Loves Me is a lot fun too. I agree that it´s a shame that they didn´t do another picture together. But I believe that it was close that they did another picture, wasn´t Ann-Margret considered for Kid Galahad? So with that in mind, she maybe starred here because they didn´t work things out back then
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
Love the soundtrack. Never cared for the movie. Yes, I know Elvis and Ann had a thing for each other. Couldn't stand Elvis' sidekick. What a dweeb. Also, couldn't stand that older Italian guy who wanted to get in Ann's panties.
sitdown68 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
well, the movie was released the year I was born. I'm highsteppin' proud ¦-) they shoul've continued with a high budget. maybe just one per year instead of htree, yielding a studio record apart and some real intelligent movie songs, a little less fillers, a little more attraction.. too bad it was diff'rent.
busboy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
What a leading lady, why didn't they make another film together. Great film which shows exactly what could have been if it wasn't for the penny pinching colonel.
My boy, my boy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
The movie and the tracks from Viva Las Vegas were an enormous potential hit for 1964 but like Steve V said, the timing was really bad cause the new group called the Beatles litterally took over the planet. Had it been released earlier in 1962 for example, the song "Viva" might have easily been a #1 on the charts. My favorite song though is Today, tomorrow and forever !
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
My favorite Elvis movie as well as my favorite soundtrack from the 60's These are the types of musicals Elvis should have kept on making as opssosed to quick buck poor production flms like Kissin Cousins, Tickle Me, & Harum Scarum. This film is head & shoulders above the rest of them. They should have had an LP for this film. Now we know there was enough material for one. Would have been a bigger seller than the EP which was a dying format in 1964. Great title song which prob would have charted higher had it not been for the British Invasion which invaded the airwaves!

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