Sunday, April 13, 2014
Speedway was Elvis' third appearance as a race car driver having previously had the same profession in Viva Las Vegas as Grand Prix driver Lucky Jackson, and in Spinout he played Mike Mcoy, part time race car driver and part time musician. While Viva Las Vegas is one of Elvis' best films, Speedway ranks more toward the bottom of Elvis' cinema output. The plot, which I know isn't the prime reason they made movies starring Elvis, concerns Elvis' business manager, Bill Bixby, misusing Elvis's funds until they get audited by the IRS. It seems Elvis owes Uncle Sam $150,000. Nancy Sinatra is an IRS agent assigned to Elvis's case to recoup the funds he owes.....need I say that a love interest blooms between the two? Oh yeah, there's some kind of subplot about a homeless guy with kids which is never fully developed, but allows the movie to include some cute little girls.
I guess the idea of using Nancy Sinatra as Elvis' love interest in Speedway would be equal to Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas. The problem is there wasn't much chemistry between Nancy and Elvis, plus Nancy just wasn't as talented in the singing and acting departments as Ann-Margret. I'm not trying to take anything away from Nancy, she definitely had some onscreen sex appeal and definitely could rock a pair of white go-go boots, but her acting wasn't even as good as Elvis' and that's a feat hard to accomplish. Even though her performance was good, the one song she was given to sing solo, "Your Groovy Self" , written by her long time collaborator Lee Hazlewood, had a great title, but unfortunately terrible lyrics.
Quentin Tarantino had his design team for Pulp Fiction view Speedway and the results can be seen in that film. The club Elvis hangs out in, cleverly called The Hangout (bet that took a lot of time to think up) features car bodies for booths. In the Jack Rabbit Slims club scene in Pulp Fiction, a similar type of car booth was used. No dance contest at The Hangout, as in Pulp Fiction, but when the owner shines a spotlight on someone, they have to perform for the rest of the club. This, of course, made it easy to include a couple of more songs in the film. A couple of songs in Speedway turned out to be pretty good, especially "Let Yourself Go" and the finale "There Ain't Nothing Like A Song", plus I enjoyed the "full on" Broadway musical performance of "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad". When all is said and done, Speedway delivered what is was supposed to....Elvis singing some songs wrapped around a light plot. It just didn't do it as well as some of his other movies.