My Rating: 4 stars
Oh that Elvis! Always up to shenanigans. He’s the kind of guy who always has an exotic hobby to pursue, and tons of beautiful women to disrespect. And, in this classic movie, Elvis’ hobby is car racing, and the lovely lady he’s neglecting is Ann-Margaret. All of Elvis’ movies are set in some exciting location, but this story is all set in the supremely bizarre landscape of Las Vegas. We all know how strange that place is. It’s got the sportsmen, the relaxed vacationers, the defeated gamblers, and all the nouveau-riche, self-made millionaires. It’s a unique ecosystem.
Ann-Margaret is a perky, little swimming instructor. Elvis is intrigued, but he has no time for love, because he’s too busy gambling, trying to win enough money to fix his race-car. Ann-Margaret also thinks Elvis is pretty cute, but she’s not so convinced that she wants to potentially marry such an irresponsible wastrel. She’s just met the guy, and already she’s assessing his marriageability! The sensibility is very 1960s. And, although the film is nominally about Elvis’ tenuous future as a race-car driver, it’s really a story about the flirtation between these attractive youngsters. Elvis is playing hard to get by publicly blowing off Ann-Margaret. And, she’s keeping him on his toes by tricking him into awkward situations. For example, she invites him to come sit in on one of her dance classes at UNLV, and then springs it on him that she’s promised her students that he will perform.
These lovers are really not good for each other. They have chemistry, sure, but their relationship seems to be solely based on humiliating one another. It’s one prolonged power struggle. It seems like a miserable and ultimately doomed affair. But, this movie is still good fun. I’ve been watching a fair amount of Elvis movies lately, and this is one of my favorites. It’s got a good balance of silly stories and classic songs. I liked it way better than Jailhouse Rock (which I was very disappointed by). I’ve also been getting into more Ann-Margaret films too. She’s so adorable. And, she’s so fun with her brassy, over-the-top singing style. I was vaguely aware of her work before, but similar to my rediscovery of Marilyn Monroe, I’m enjoying her material way more than I thought I would, based on her reputation.
I’d definitely recommend watching this movie if you’re in the mood for a classic. There’s a lot of wacky antics, romance, and music for you to enjoy. And, there’s a good amount of unintended comedy as well. That’s my favorite thing to stumble across.