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Elvis and Nancy puts the drag in drag racing.
The King gets together with fast cars and Nancy Sinatra in this romantic comedy about the exciting worlds of stock car racing and tax evasion. In "Speedway," Elvis plays Steve Grayson, a successful race car driver who's generous to a fault. Bill Bixby plays the girl-chasing manager/best friend who gambles away all their winnings. Nancy plays Susan Jacks, an IRS agent who's assigned to collect the astronomical taxes that have accrued. But the fun never begins.
"Speedway" came out a year after Nancy's Number One hit "Somethin' Stupid," a duet with her famous dad Frank. But this film's attempt to pair her with Elvis fails miserably. Nancy's parched personality and juiceless acting makes Elvis look like Brando. And there should have been more than enough cinematic proof by this point that stock car racing never looks interesting on the big screen. It's hard to believe that this rather passive Elvis is on the verge of making his celebrated '68 comeback. On a more pleasant note: This was Nancy's swan song to feature film making.
Movin' with Nancy (1967)
The Amazing "Movin' With Nancy" Turns 40. . . and Improves with Age!
When this Emmy Award-winning NBC-TV special first aired back in 1967, another part of the entertainment industry was celebrating its 40th anniversary: Warner Bros.' "The Jazz Singer", the first "talking" motion picture starring Al Jolson had its premiere in 1927. Unfortunately, that slice of cinema history held up at the time like a lead balloon. But with "Movin' With Nancy," the reaction today is quite different. The show actually looks better in the present and reflects what we are seeing in the current musical front, fitting in surprisingly well. At the time of it's original airing, a well-known film and television critic lambasted the show, accusing Ms. Sinatra of looking like a pizza waitress and describing her talent as a performer as "a hash slinger slumming it up in an Andy Warhol movie." So, her voice didn't measure up to Barbra Streisand; maybe not even Petula Clark. But her own particular style was certainly pleasant enough and she (lip-synced) quite well to many of her hits including "Sugar Town", "Friday's Child", "Jackson" and "Some Velvet Morning" (the latter two with the legendary Lee Hazlewood). My only regret was that she didn't perform her biggest hit "Boots" on the special, a decision that she also later regretted. Alas, maybe when this DVD gets a well-deserved re-issue, she'll include the sparkling video she made of the song back in 1966 as one of the "extras." The Swinging Sixties never looked so good!
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
Elvis and Ann-Margret (Out)do Vegas!
Although my own personal favorite Elvis film is "Tickle Me" (1965), "Viva Las Vegas" is the last remotely classy film he made and his best musical in years. The Las Vegas locale enabled M-G-M to put in some rock songs--and Ann-Margret (a cross between Marilyn and Madonna) whose image is similar to Elvis's, was a definite plus. The film was even more successful than "Blue Hawaii" (1961)--Presley's biggest hit to date. They took their time shooting it, the songs are well showcased and Elvis and the sexy Ann-Margret form the most attractive twosome in years. It's even quite possible that the challenging Miss Margret briefly lifts him from the doldrums he's been in; most certainly when they double (as in the very catchy "C'mon Everybody" sequence) the fireworks explode loud and bright. Both performers are sinuous and sensual and assured, and between them they manage to lift a routine movie far above what it would otherwise be. But it also has the bonus of director George Sidney ("Bye Bye Birdie")--and it's the last Elvis film that will be so blessed.
Tickle Me (1965)
Hey, it's Elvis and it's in color! Were you expecting "West Side Story"?
A very funny film. The soundtrack was composed of old songs from earlier Elvis LPs (to keep the film's budget at a minimum). Elvis looks great and Jocelyn Lane looks incredible. In my opinion (along with many others), Jocelyn was the prettiest costar Elvis ever had. Julie Adams is very attractive as the "older" woman. Practically all of the women in the film are hot (and there are loads of groovy gals). In fact--although not intending to be--"Tickle Me" remains one of the best children's pictures ever. I certainly couldn't get enough of it when it played at the local theater when I was in grade school. I went back to see it again five times! What can I say? Puberty calling!