"Viva Las Vegas". An in-depth Look at the Movie


Elvis' fifteenth movie was "Viva Las Vegas", which was filmed July 15 - September 11, 1963. It opened nationwide on June 17, 1964 and became Elvis' highest grossing film ever. It co-starred Ann-Margret.

Location filming took place in Las Vegas area locations including: the parking lot of the Sahara Hotel, Lake Mead Marina, a drag strip in the suburb of Henderson, the old Vegas Amusement Park in Henderson, a skeet shooting range at the Tropicana Hotel, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas gymnasium, McCarran Airport and the swimming pool at the Flamingo Hotel. The wedding scene was shot at the Little Church of the West, which is a famous wedding chapel in Las Vegas listed on the U.S. National Registry of
Historical Places as the oldest existing structure on the Las Vegas Strip. It has been the scene for many real celebrity weddings since the first one, the 1943 marriage of Betty Grable and Harry James.

Jack Cummings was the producer of "Viva Las Vegas" and had previously produced such movies as "Kiss Me Kate", "Teahouse of the August Moon", and "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" for which he received an Academy Award nomination in 1955. He won a Golden Globe "Honor Award" in 1954 for his 30 years as a producer for MGM. Although a nephew of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, Cummings started his career as an office boy and worked his way up to script supervisor, to assistant director and eventually a producer of many of MGM's famous musicals.

George Sidney was the director and he too had a long career directing musical productions. Some of them were "Anchors Aweigh", "Ziegfeld Follies', "Annie Get Your Gun", "Showboat", and 1963's "Bye, Bye Birdie" which starred Ann-Margret. Sidney was the innovator who paired Gene Kelly's live acting with the animated mouse Jerry in "Anchors Aweigh".

The screenplay was written by Academy Award nominated writer Sally Benson, who also wrote such movies as "Meet me In St. Louis", "The Singing Nun" and "Anna and the King of Siam".

The cinematographer was Joseph F. Biroc, who later won an Academy Award for his work in "The Towering Inferno". He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte".

The costumes were by Don Feld, who also worked on Elvis' movies "Wild In The Country" and "Double Trouble". Feld received Academy Award nominations for his designs in "Days of Wine and Roses", "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", "Tom Sawyer", and "Prizzi's Honor".

Ann-Margret was Elvis' leading lady, playing Rusty Martin to his Lucky Jackson in the movie. They had a brief romance and then remained friends throughout Elvis' life. The Swedish born singer/actress was raised in Illinois and was discovered by George Burns. She had appeared in "Pocketful of Miracles", "State Fair", and the Elvis-inspired musical "Bye, Bye Birdie" prior to being cast in "Viva Las Vegas". She went on to receive numerous accolades including ten Golden Globe nominations with five wins and five Emmy Award nominations. She also received two Academy Award nominations, one for her work in "Carnal Knowledge" and the other for"Tommy".

Elvis' rival for Ann-Margret's affection in the film was Cesare Danova, who had a long career as a character actor in film as well as on television.

William Demarest played Ann-Margret's father. Demarest's show business career began in vaudeville. His first film role was in the 1927 movie "The Jazz Singer". He earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor in the 1946 "The Jolson Story". He is best remembered for his long time role as Uncle Charley O'Casey in the TV series "My Three Sons". He joined the cast after the death of William Frawley, who had played Bub O'Casey in the show.

George Cisar played the manager at the Swingers nightclub in "Viva Las Vegas". He also appeared in other Elvis movies : as a bartender in
"Jailhouse Rock", a craps shooter in "It Happened At The World's Fair", the bartender at the Kit Kat Club in "Girl Happy", and as a portly bald-headed man in "Speedway". He went on to play a recurring role on television as Cyrus Tankersley in "The Andy Griffith Show " and "Mayberry RFD".

Kent McCord played bits in the Elvis films "Viva Las Vegas", "Kissin' Cousins", "Roustabout" and "Girl Happy". McCord had planned on a career as a physical education instructor and football coach when he met and became friends with singer/actor Rick Nelson. He was soon making guest appearances on the "Ozzie and Harriet" show, starring the Nelson family. McCord was eventually was cast as officer Jim Reed in the popular "Adam-12" television series.

Teri Garr played a showgirl in "Viva Las Vegas". The dancer/actress can also be seen in the Elvis films "Fun In Acapulco", "Kissin'Cousins", "Roustabout" and "Clambake". She was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film "Tootsie". Among her notable film credits are "Oh God!" and "Mister Mom".

Elvis' long-time movied stand-in/double Lance LeGault played a Son of the Lone Star State in "Viva Las Vegas". And in the scene in which Ann-Margret's character pushes Elvis' characther off the diving board it's Lance who actually takes the fall, standing in for Elvis. He can be seen in the Elvis films "Girls! Girls!Girls!", "Kissin' Cousins" and "Roustabout" and ringside with a tambourine in the 1968 TV special "Elvis". He can be heard today as the narrator in Graceland Mansion's audio tour presentation. Lance is a popular character actor and voice artist with a seemingly endless list of credits.

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