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Viva Las Vegas (1964) * Worst Hit * - Or Wasting My Blu-Ray Cherry Experience

The Poster nails it... just a hint of awkward sumthin'
The Poster nails it... just a hint of awkward sumthin'

Genre: Musical Romance

Starring: Elvis Presley (Blue HawaiiJailhouse Rock), Ann-Margaret (Grumpy Old MenThe Cincinnati Kid)

Directed By: George Sidney (Annie Get Your GunKiss Me Kate)

Overview: Elvis plays Lucky Jackson, a race car driver who hopes to earn enough money to buy the engine that will let him win the grand prix, and let's not forget the much needed love interest.

As you may know, Squish made the jump to Blu-Ray. He started loading up titles at the top of the queue on his online rental service and waited patiently. The first film that I watched on the Blu-Ray player was the regular DVD version of Shoot Em Up (wicked fun BTW). For those of you that doubt the upsampling that Blu-Ray players do unto regular DVDs - well take it from me, it's awesome.

I waited and waited and about 3 weeks later I got my first Blu-Ray disks in the mail. Two came in. The first was the original, the only, the Romerolicious and Top 10 favorite Squish films ever, the 1978 Dawn of the Dead. A strange and beautiful surprise that it would be out on Blu-Ray Disk (BD). Well I couldn't hog that all to myself, and decided to wait and make that a wicked Saturday viewing with friends (and it was). The second title that came in was Viva Las Vegas starring Elvis Aaron Effin' Presley and boy do I gotta lot to say about this one.

I've never seen an Elvis movie, and now I understand why. Viva Las Vegas is Elvis' 15th film (of 31, not counting concert films and that karate documentary), and though I've been told that King Creole and Jailhouse Rock are more worthy Presley films, I don't think I have the time to devote to them, thanks.

Let me start with co-star Ann-Margaret, and hopefully for her sake it'll sound more like a dig into 60s musical film culture. Ann-Margaret, in this film, has all the makings of what is fakest in a person and is a huge historic red flag for what our Hollywood-influenced society was to become. From hair and clothes that scream 'accept me' to her set of capped teeth so glaringly obvious that I couldn't get the walrus images out of my head. Now all this is relatively forgivable until you add the onscreen presence of the girl. I understand that people danced a particular way in the 60s that might not be considered... attractive... today, but for God's sake don't add seizure-face to the electrocution dance. Poor Ann-Margaret would routinely open her mouth and widen her eyes as she gyrated, but instead of looking seductive, or like she was having fun, it looked more like a pained short bus kid getting rabbit punched. I was embarrassed for her, and frequently. That's all I gotta say about her. Wait, four more words about her short shorts and bathing suits: Embarrassingly Explicit Camel Toe.

On to Elvis. He's still thin and youthful in Viva Las Vegas, but again I have issue with his particular brand of wiggle. Yes, even Elvis the Pelvis can't dodge eyebrow lift I gave. All too Beach Blanket Bingo dancing. Man that shit is creepy. Oh and might I add: he can't act.

Which leads us to the meat of the actual film bits. Cinematography, writing, plot and character development.

Holy Jesus. It's like I was suddenly brought into a "Twilight Zone" episode of what Bizarro-Hollywood was like. Realism out the window, big empty holes between character arc development, writing that assumed so much all the time and did nothing more than shove plot down a creepy rabbit hole of mayhem. The plot didn't even begin to pretend that it was anything but time filler for the mediocre songs being sung. As for the songs themselves? Yeah I know the title song, "Viva Las Vegas" was great and all, but three times? Opening credits, climax and end credits? Seriously, there's such thing as overkill.

All in all, a really bad, awkward, uncomfortable experience with a guy who's pretty awesome overall.

I think I'll hate the director more than Elvis. He could have stopped so much of this stuff from happening.

My favourite quote, a song originally done by Ray Charles, in the scene whose photo is below, made better by actually showing a woman with a red dress:

"Mmm, see the girl with the red dress on
She can do the dog all night long"

That's right lady... Do the dog.

All. Night. Long.


Teeth just a hint too capped
Teeth just a hint too capped

Performance: 6 Cinematography: 7 Script: 5 Plot: 4 Mood: 5

Overall Rating: 54% (Lost Out In Vegas)

No, I can't say it was a waste to make this my Blu-Ray film experience, because to me it's more about cramming as many as I can in there before I go to the big cinematech in the sky, but when people ask "what was your first BD film?" The answer will forever be Viva Las Vegas instead of Dawn Of The Dead.

And for as beautiful as the print was, I can't say that makes me warm and fuzzy all over.

| | | |

Hilarious - I tried to watch Viva Las Vegas once several years ago on TV because I thought it would be campy fun - I don't think I made it through 5 minutes before I changed the channel!


I'll always love Ann Margaret in "Bye Bye Birdie", though...

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