Speedway (1968)HD Closed Captioning
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Elvis "The King" Presley takes the wheel as a stock car racer with generous impulses and a wayward manager who finds himself owing the IRS $145,000 in back taxes. Co-starring Bill Bixby ("The Incredible Hulk") and pop star Nancy "These Boots Are Made for Walking" Sinatra. Featuring great Elvis songs.
Didn´t remember it being THAT good
We usually expect things to get worse towards the end of a career, in this case Elvis' Hollywood career. But after a low during 1965-67 things were actually getting better again for Elvis the actor. The fact that his later films didn't get much (if any) attention compared to his earlier musicals is mainly because people by then expected them to be bad in advance. So they got featured with movies like "The Green Slime", which actually didn't make them any more attractive as one can imagine. Still, films like "Live a Little, Love a Little", the underrated "The Trouble with Girls", "Change of Habit" and even "Stay Away, Joe" are in fact pretty enjoyable.
So is "Speedway". Being the last of the classical sub-genre "Elvis movie" it brings an era to its end. Cast by MGM as a race car driver for the third time in four years, Elvis doesn't re-invent the genre. HIs movies never had the influence on Hollywood like his recordings had on rock and pop music history. But although this movie is far from being a towering moment in film making it still succeeds in a very worthy way.
The script is tight for an Elvis movie with some nice one-liners and strong dialogues. Director Norman Taurog truly makes the best out of it in his second to last movie ever (the last one being "Live a Little, Love a Little"). The pace of "Speedway" is as tight as the photography of some late 1960ies stock car races, featuring some popular drivers of the time. The soundtrack is pretty good, too, with "Let Yourself Go" being so strong that it was included in Elvis' famous 1968 NBC TV-Special.
But what REALLY makes this movie work is the supporting cast with Bill Bixby being Elvis' best male co-star, second to arguably only Gary Lockwood ( "2001 - A Space Odyssey) from "It Happened at the World's Fair" (1963). They have a great chemistry and their comedy timing is simply perfect. Noteworthy are also Gale Gordon, William Schallert and Carl Ballantine. Nancy Sinatra isn't as good and convincing as Ann Margret was in "Viva Las Vegas" four years before. She doesn't really add much to the movie but at least she doesn't get in the way. ^^ She remains the only artist to have a song of her own on an Elvis soundtrack album, though.
"Speedway" is fun to watch with its late 1960ies looks and some fine gimmicks such as the "Hang Out" that inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Jack Rabbit Slim's" from "Pulp Fiction". If you're looking for an Elvis movie to watch this is definitely a recommendation. I'm almost sure you'll like it. At least there worse ways to spend 90 minutes on, say, a rainy Sunday afternoon. Like I said in the title to this review: I didn't remember it being THAT good.