I’ve owned a box set of Elvis Presley movies for about the past three years, yet as of this weekend I’d only watched ONE of them, and even that (Jailhouse Rock) was only within the past few months–on some weekend I hadn’t rented a musical and needed something for my weekend morning project. I actually may have watched more of them sooner had I not owned them, because I was lulled into the complacency of always having them right there, waiting for me–instead of a rental with a due date or a friend tapping on their wrist waiting for a disc’s speedy return.

That is to say, I’m admitting here that I’m thoroughly embarrassed I’ve had access to this movie for so long without watching it, because it’s BEYOND wonderful!

Ann-Margret’s legs-first entrance is so cheeky and fun, and a great entryway to the playful tone of the film. However much of their off-screen relationship was crafted for publicity, Elvis and Ann-Margaret have undeniably amazing chemistry on film and they’re very fun to watch playing off each other. There are so few movies where you can have one of the character literally sing a song about how much she hates the potential love interest–and have it come across as flirty.

There’s not an overabundance of plot in the movie, but it’s kept moving along very nicely, and the amount of musical numbers is balanced nicely with character moments. I really liked all the supporting characters–Rusty’s dad, Shorty, and the very gentle rival for Rusty’s affections and the Grand Prix title, Count Mancini. I loved that even though they’re supposed to be romantic AND racing rivals in the movie, Elvis and Count Mancini share their hotel room and keep helping each other out (okay, and sometimes step on each other’s game, but nothing too cruel).

I love the title song, but I think my favorite number in the movie is “C’mon, Everybody,” which starts out with Elvis doing a funny “Oh no I couldn’t possibly… well, if you insist” and then just absolutely breaking it down. With its kinetic, frantic choreography, it looks like they’re all performing self-exorcisms. And that’s really my primary criterion for evaluating 1960s musicals, so I was quite pleased.

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