Buster Keaton’s got a winner today, but I just have to start with the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis Presley’s canon isn’t exactly the stuff of cinematic immortality, but it’s hard not to smile at Viva Las Vegas!, his 1964 romp in which he plays a down-on-his-luck race car driver who finds success and romance in Sin City. It’s most notable for his pairing with Ann-Margret, who not only gets the rare privilege of singing her own song in an Elvis movie without help from Elvis, but whose sexual chemistry with the King is so potent you practically expect the pair of them to burst into flames every time they’re on screen together.
Of course, our affection for Elvis doesn’t diminish Mr. Keaton, whose masterpiece Steamboat Bill, Jr. opened today in 1928. He plays the son of a paddleboat owner who falls in love with the daughter of a rival boat owner. As you may suspect, wacky mayhem of all variety ensues…. including Keaton’s most famous stunt in which the front of a building falls down around him, while he remains completely unharmed.