Elvis may be known as the King of Rock n’ Roll, but he is certainly the King of Las Vegas too. At a time when Vegas was considered a wasteland for has-been entertainers and the crowds were much older, Las Vegas was of course the place to gamble and see the elaborate showgirls. When Elvis decided to perform regularly in Vegas back in 1969 little did he know he would eventually make it one of the most popular destinations in the world for travelers and entertainers alike, spawning cottage industries of Elvis impersonators, Flying Elvis’, and Elvis-style wedding chapels.
Here now is a guide that will take you on a cinematic tour of Las Vegas based on Elvis-themed movies. One of them stars Elvis Presley, the man himself, in a lavish musical with songs, dances, and girls. Another is a hilarious comedy that will have you laughing from start to finish focusing at times on the various tribute artists for Elvis. Lastly, the third film is based on a heist of a Las Vegas hotel from a member of a gang who believes he is Elvis’s illegitimate son. Each of these Elvis films highlight points of interests for you to see and visit.
Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret (1964)
One of Elvis’ most popular films by his legion of fans, it’s now considered one of his most iconic films. The theme song has become synonymous with references to Las Vegas, even to this day. You can hear it in a TV commercial for viagra, with slight changes of lyrics. In the opening of this film you hear Elvis sing his famous song as you get a glorious aerial view of the bright neon lights that are actually of downtown Las Vegas as well as some of the hotels along the Strip. Self-guided walking tours are easy by simply walking along the Fremont Street Experience in downtown. There you can see for yourself the incredible light show from each of these hotels.
Viva Las Vegas is also famous for the captivating chemistry, on and off-screen, of Elvis and his lovely co-star, Ann-Margret. After their initial meeting on-screen Elvis and his rival race car driver buddy go on a wild goose chase looking for her thinking she’s a showgirl at one of the hotels along the strip. Actually her character is a swim instructor teaching children at a lavish Las Vegas hotel whose swimming pool is enormous and state-of-the-art. There is a magnificent scene of Elvis and Ann-Margret up in a helicopter looking down on Hoover Dam and Lake Mead as she gives him some very impressive trivia on these popular tourist sights just outside Las Vegas. The film has a talent contest between the two and Elvis driving in a riveting road race. Naturally it ends very romantically.
Honeymoon in Vegas – Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, & James Caan (1992)
This has to be one of the funniest movies ever made. I could not stop laughing over its crazy storyline. It’s about a young couple, Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker, who decide to go to Las Vegas for the weekend to get married right away. They stay in a very opulent honeymoon suite at the Bally’s hotel during an Elvis Impersonators Convention. Cage’s character, however, has a weakness for playing poker. He gets hoodwinked into playing an extremely high stakes game with a well known professional gambler, played brilliantly by James Caan. When Cage loses he now owes $65,000. He can absolve the debt under one condition, his fiancé.
The story gets crazier as has his fiancé is now with the professional gambler at his romantic beach home on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Cage comes to the rescue as he heads to Hawaii to get his fiancé back. After a lot of mishaps and manipulations stemming from Caan, he just missed the two of them as they headed back to Las Vegas. Cage finally makes it back to the mainland where he miraculously hitches a ride on an old-fashioned propeller plane with a bunch of Elvis impersonators to Las Vegas. Little does he realize they won’t be landing at their destination in the conventional way. After all these are the Flying Elvis’, Utah Chapter, he’s with. Thankfully the loving couple is then reunited. It ends with the happy couple and the Flying Elvis’s at a wedding chapel.
3000 Miles to Graceland – Kevin Costner & Kurt Russell (2001)
While the first two films are light romantic comedies this one is anything but that. It’s the story of two masterminds, played by Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, and their band of recruits who plan on robbing the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. Their disguise is to dress up as Elvis impersonators, so they can blend in with the crowd after they commit their brilliant heist. As they are en route to Las Vegas by car you begin to see flashes of rapid images of the famed Las Vegas Strip at night in all its over-the-top glory. While watching the “blink of an eye” imagery of the Strip you hear this electronic incidental music that’s pulsating, energetic, and rhythmic.
Once they arrive at the hotel the film does a great job of showcasing the numerous clichés that are associated heavily with Vegas: the patrons who think they’ll strike it rich at the slot machines, Elvis impersonators abound , scantily-clad showgirl floor show, an opulent hotel, and security cameras everywhere on the patrons at all times. Even though the scenes in Las Vegas are a small portion of the film it still makes a big impression. The extreme violence that ensues when the heist goes horribly awry merely drives the point home that Las Vegas always has been and still is about glitz, glamour, and glitterati.
There you have your cinematic tour of three films based on Las Vegas, along with Elvis. The first one being a musical, next a comedy, and last an action-packed film. You have all the information you need to get you started on planning or learning everything there is to know about Las Vegas. You can purchase these films at www.amazon.com that are excellent representations of Vegas.