Viva Las Vegas (VLV) is often hailed as Elvis’s best movie—an assessment I happen to agree with. What makes VLV different that the typical EP movie? Simple Ann Margaret. Not only is she beautiful, but almost as talented as the King himself. I say almost because when you watch these two magnificent performers singing and dancing you can tell Margaret is counting her steps (perfectly of course) but when looked at next to Elvis he glides moving as naturally as breathing a sign that he really had the music inside: a true natural.
As in many of his scripted movies, VLV Elvis plays the fiercely independent “fight the man” character in some sort of car racing event. Here, Elvis refuses the proposition of wealthy count to handsomely compensate him for “blocking” for the count in the race thereby increasing the chances of the counts victory. Even when Elvis looses all of his money after falling in the hotel pool, he would rather wait tables than sell out to the count.
Enter Ann Margaret. She rolls in and captures the eye of both Elvis and the wealthy count both try to find her by touring the Vegas hotel shows hoping to be the object of her affection. The competition for Ann Margaret’s attention becomes almost comical as each man tries to out do the other. Along the way Elvis takes her on the ultimate date. In one day they water ski, have a western-style showdown, tour Vegas in a helicopter, shoot skeet, ride scooters, and dance in a gymnasium.
The final musical scene is the hotel employee talent show and Ann Margaret gives Elvis a run for his money with her hotter-than-hot striptease “Appreciation.” Naturally Elvis pulls it out in the end and perhaps rightfully so.
If you didn’t know that Margaret and Elvis were lovers during this film you would figure it out by the chemistry created during their performances.