Hopefully you joined us — and enjoyed — our “Fast and Furious Week” tribute during the first week of August as we honored the Universal franchise, along with its ripoffs and knockoffs, and the obscure and off-beat, rubber-burning drive-in epics from the ’50s through the ’80s that influenced the those films.
And guess what?
That 40-plus film blowout still wasn’t enough . . . as one car flick skidded into another, then another . . . and before we knew it, we had another 40-plus reviews. So, to get you ready for our second “Fast and Furious Week Redux” to run from Sunday, December 6, to Saturday, December 12, we’re rollin’ out Elvis’s car racing trilogy.
Facts are facts: Elvis flicks served us heaping helpings of cheesy camp starring “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in a wide array of professions. He was a convict, a boxer, a cowboy, a riverboat captain, a helicopter pilot, and a cowboy — who always found the time to sway his hips and sing his latest hits for a bevy of skintight, carpi-panted ladies. And road racing, be it stock cars, Grand Prix or road rally racers, was a hot sport in the ’60s. So why not place Elvis in a flame retardant suit, strap on a helmet, and slip him into a cockpit?
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
The best and most popular of Elvis’s race excursions was his role as Lucky Jackson. He’s a down-and-out waiter and aspiring racer who dreams, schemes, and parties with Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret) as he gathers up the cash to buy a new engine for his cherished Elva Mk VI Maserati so he can enter the First Annual Las Vegas Grand Prix. His man competition is mean ol’ Count Elmo Mancini and his Ferrari 250 GT. And Yep. That’s good ‘ol Uncle Charlie (William Demarest) from the iconic ’60s TV series My Three Sons as Ann’s pop.
And get this: the music and dance scenes were choreographed by David Winters . . . yes, the very same David Winters who gave us — wow, it’s not even a Star Wars dropping — the Battlestar Galatica pile that is 1988’s Space Mutiny.
Only on B&S About Movies, baby.
Poor Elvis. Col. Tom Parker never let The King rest. But in Col. Tom’s defense: he was a master at keeping Elvis in the spotlight while he was overseas serving in the military. After Viva Las Vegas, we got seven more films within a two year period: Kissin’ Cousins, Roustabout, Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Harum Scarum, Frankie and Johnny, and Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
This time out, El is Mike McCoy, a band leader moonlighting as a race car driver who must decide between breaking up with Cynthia Foxhugh (Shelley Fabares) or lose her father’s sponsorship for the big race. This time, El’s trades out his Elva Mk VI for a Cobra 427. And keep your eyes peeled for the eye pleasing ski n’ snow bunnies that are Diane McBain — who’s determined to steal Mike from Cindy — and crushed on by his band’s female drummer, played Deborah Walley.
MGM went all out for El’s third and final race flick, casting NASCAR stars Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Tiny Lund, and Cale Yarbrough in cameos — to help us forget we’re watching a film comprised of stock footage with El process-shot onto the race track. This time out, El is Steve Grayson, a stock racer who only has eyes for IRS Agent Susan Jacks (Nancy Sinatra) and sees his career going up in smoke thanks to bad bookkeeping courtesy of his manager’s gambling addiction. And keep your eyes open for Bill Bixby and ’60s drive-in warhorse Ross Hagan in support roles.
“We gotta win this race, Elvis!”
We’ll see you bright and early, 9 AM, on Monday, December 6th as we roll out a week of over 40 more road rippin’ and rubber burnin’ flicks, as well as a “Drive-In Friday” tribute to Drag Racing documentaries, as part of our “Fast and Furious Week” round up of reviews.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.