Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Elvis - Viva Las Vegas



The 86-minute MGM film, (also known as ‘Love in Las Vegas’ in the U.K.), was released in April, 1964. It was originally going to be called ‘The Only Girl In Town.’ A single featuring the title track, coupled with ‘What’d I Say?’ was a chart hit and the EP was issued in America in July 1964 on RCA EPA-4382. The tracks on the EP were: ‘If You Think I Don’t Need You’, ‘I Need Somebody To Lean On’, ‘C’mon Everybody’ and ‘Today, Tomorrow and Forever'.


On 4th July it had a one-week residency in the charts in the No92 position – which is probably why RCA decided not to release a soundtrack album at the time. Other songs in the film included ‘The Lady Loves Me’ and ‘Santa Lucia.’
‘Viva Las Vegas’, the title song, was penned by Doc Pomus and Mort Schuman in July 1963. It was issued as a single with the Ray Charles number ‘What’d I Say?’ as the flip.

During his performance of ‘What’d I Say?’ in the film, Elvis is backed by The Carole Lombard Quintet and The Jubilee Four. Pomus and Schuman also penned ‘I Need Somebody To Lean On’, a ballad which Elvis sings as he takes a melancholy walk through an empty, dimly lit nightclub. Red West and Joe Cooper penned ‘If You Think I Don’t Need You’ and Joey Byers penned ‘C’mon Everybody’ a duet between Elvis and Ann-Margret. The other duet was ‘The Lady Loves Me,’ which was never issued commercially at the time due to contractual problems. ‘Today, Tomorrow and Forever’ was penned by Bill Grant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye and is a ballad on which Elvis is backed by The Jordanaires. The trio also penned ‘Night Life,’ a number which was cut from the final print of the film, but was eventually issued on an Elvis album in 1968.

Elvis himself arranged the version of the old Italian folk song ‘Santa Lucia’ which he sings partly in Italian with banjo backing, with Ann-Margret humming in the background. There is also a medley of ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’/’The Eyes of Texas.’ Three numbers recorded for the film weren’t included in the finished movie: ‘Do The Vega’, ‘Night Life’ and ‘You’re the Boss.’

The bootleg album issued in America by Lucky Records in 1979 contains no less than 19 cuts, including radio spots advertising the film, outtakes recorded for the film and two solo numbers by Ann-Margret, ‘Appreciation’ and ‘My Rival.’
Elvis - Viva Las Vegas

Elvis - Viva Las Vegas The film was produced by Jack Cummins and George Sidney, directed by Sidney with a screenplay by Sally Benson. It starred Elvis as Lucky Jackson, with Ann-Margret as Rusty Martin, Cesare Danova as Count Elmo Mancini, William Demerest as Mr. Martin and Nicky Blair as Shorty Farnsworth. In the movie, Lucky Jackson has one ambition – to be the world racing champion. To achieve this, he and his mechanic, Shorty Farnsworth, are on their way to Las Vegas to enter their car in the annual Grand Prix. Lucky has won a considerable amount of money in a gambling saloon to enable him to do this.

Arriving in Las Vegas, Lucky meets Count Elmo Mancini, the Italian racing champion, who is preparing his Ferrari for the big race. Lucky turns down Mancini’s offer, which involves taking the other cars out of the competition by hard driving so that Mancini can win with little effort. Their minds are taken off racing when a young lovely named Rusty Martin asks them to fix her sports car. Lucky tries to delay her by loosening a wire, but Mancini fixes the car and Rusty is on her way before Lucky can learn her name. Guessing that she’s a showgirl, Lucky and Mancini begin a tour of the fabulous Las Vegas strip, but after viewing hundreds of chorus girls, they still haven’t located Rusty.

The next morning Lucky finds her by accident – she is the swimming instructor at the hotel where he is staying. The reunion is a happy one for Lucky – until he falls into the pool and the money he and Shorty were going to use for a racing engine is sucked down the drain. To pay his hotel bill he and Shorty become waiters. This makes them eligible to compete for $21,500 in prizes at the annual Employee’s Talent Competition.

On his first day off, Lucky and Rusty have their first date and fall in love. On the night of the talent show, Lucky wins first prize, edging out Rusty. But instead of winning cash, Lucky receives a gold cup and a honeymoon in Monaco. Rusty wants Lucky to give up racing because she fears he will get himself killed. She tries to win him over through jealousy by carrying on with the Count.

Their candle lit dinner is turned into a riot when Lucky substitutes for the hotel’s regular waiter. Finally, just hours before the big race, the money turns up for Lucky’s engine (secretly financed by Rusty’s father) thanks to Rusty’s inadvertent help. Lucky’s car makes the starting gate on time and, in a wild and furious race, Lucky eventually wins and returns to marry Rusty.

Also see Sixties City pages: Elvis Films




Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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