Preview: Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Night

 

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By Monica Jarrell, Guest Blogger

Join us at the Lone Tree Arts Center for a screening of Viva Las Vegas on December 28th at 7:00pm.  Get your tickets early as this show will sell out quickly.  Stick around after the show for a Las Vegas cocktail night in the lobby, complete with appetizers, casino games, karaoke, and an Elvis costume contest judged by the man himself.

Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret, hit the movie scene in 1964.  It was instantly a big hit.  The movie was rated #14 in gross movie sales that year. The movie is full of songs and dancing, including “Viva Las Vegas” which remains a classic to this day.

Many critics suggest that Viva Las Vegas was one of Elvis’s best movies.  All agree that the chemistry between Ann-Margret and Elvis was very apparent and made the movie a success.  It is the only movie that Elvis starred in where the co-star matches and at times surpasses his on-screen presence.

The story is about Lucky Jackson who arrives in Las Vegas to participate in the City’s Grand Prix Race.  He needs a new engine in his race car, so he works as a waiter at a hotel to earn the money for his car. Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret) is the hotel’s swimming instructor.  Lucky attempts to win the affection of Rusty but faces competition in love and in the race.  Count Elmo Mancini (Ceasre Danova) arrives and attempts to win the girl and the race.

The chemistry between the two stars was genuine during filming.  Presley and Ann-Margret began an affair while filming Viva Las Vegas.  This affair brought a spark to the movie screen and rumors were abundant concerning the future between Ann-Margret and Elvis.

The Swedish born singer/actress Ann-Margret was raised in Illinois and was discovered by George Burns.  She is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Tommy (1975), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Grumpier Old Men (1995). She has won five Golden Globe Awards and has been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards.

For his role in Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Presley received a third-place prize in the 1965 Laurel Awards for best male performance in a musical film. Viva Las Vegas also received the 1965 Laurel Award for runner-up in the category of the best musical of 1964.  Ann-Margret was praised for her on screen chemistry with Elvis, as she nearly stole the film from him.

The movie was written by Sally Benson, directed by George Sidney, who also directed Bye Bye Birdie – a film that also starred Ann-Margret.  The song “Viva Las Vegas” was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

Remember, what happens at Lone Tree Arts Center, stays at Lone Tree Arts Center.

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