Auto racer Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley) has come to Las Vegas to participate in the big Grand Prix race. The only problem is that his car needs a new engine. He’s able to win the money for the engine, but his luck runs out while pursuing swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret). While singing a song to her, he ends up taking an unexpected dip in the pool and loses his money. Now not only does he need money for his car, Lucky also can’t pay his hotel bill, so he and his friend Shorty (Nicky Blair) get jobs as waiters at the hotel. An added benefit of working at the hotel is now he can enter the employee talent show and win its cash prize.
When Lucky first set eyes on Rusty, it was love at first sight, but Rusty isn’t so quick to fall for Lucky’s charms (no pun intended.) But as she spends more time with him, she falls pretty hard for him, too. The only problem is that Rusty doesn’t like Lucky racing cars; she’s afraid of him getting hurt. Lucky doesn’t want to quit racing, but his rival Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Denova) is also attracted to Rusty and would be willing to give up racing if the right woman came along. She goes on a date with Mancini, but her heart still belongs to Lucky.
When the big talent show rolls around, Lucky and Rusty end up competing against each other. Lucky wins, but it turns out there isn’t a cash prize after all. But with some help from Rusty’s father (William Demarest), Lucky is able to get his engine, Rusty learns to stop worrying and love auto racing, and Lucky and Rusty can live happily ever after.
Elvis movies generally don’t have the best reputations, but Viva Las Vegas is one worth seeing. From beginning to end, it’s nothing but fun. Elvis truly found his perfect leading lady in Ann-Margret, it’s really too bad Viva Las Vegas was the only movie they made together. The script has issues, but the chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margret is so great, it’s easy to overlook those issues and just have fun with it. Not only does it have two fantastic leads, the songs are excellent. I’m sure I’ll have the song “Viva Las Vegas” running through my head the next couple of days. I’d say this and Jailhouse Rock are the two Elvis movies most worth seeing.