Monkeying Around with Jane in Vegas
I often hear film fans gripe that modern movies are not like they use to be and now rely on star power and action to entertain, the truth is there have always been movies like that and "The Las Vegas Story" is a prime example. Released in 1952 "The Las Vegas Story" features Jane Russell, Victor Mature, Vincent Price and Brad Dexter along with a supporting cast which includes Jay C. Flippen and Hoagy Carmichael and it is this star power which is why it is worth watching, not that their characters are that interesting. Aside from the stars there is also an action finale, an impressive one at that with a low flying helicopter but beyond that the storyline is actually quite ordinary, a crime drama which whilst not obvious is not that intriguing.
Former Vegas Club singer Linda Rollins (Jane Russell - His Kind of Woman) returns to Vegas with her husband Lloyd (Vincent Price) who has a bad gambling addiction. Linda's return doesn't go unnoticed as old flame Lt. Dave Andrews (Victor Mature - My Darling Clementine) learns she is back in town and goes to the old club to see her. But also in town is Tom Hubler (Brad Dexter) an Insurance investigator hired to keep an eye on both Lloyd and the valuable necklace which Linda wears. When the owner of a club is murdered and Linda is kidnapped Dave must discover the truth and rescue the woman he still loves.
As titles go "The Las Vegas Story" is misleading because it does make you think that this is a movie about the gambling Mecca when in truth what we have is a crime drama with a romantic side line. Neither of these two stories are that original as we have a bit of murder mystery interweaved with an old flame with a thing for the woman who broke his heart. Whilst entertaining it takes a while to really get going and it is not until during the second half that we actually get the murder with the first half almost solely about Dave's feelings for Linda.
Now whilst not entirely predictable the mystery itself does allow for Dave to have to deal with a personal conflict as having patched up some old issues with Linda the fact that Lloyd is the main suspect in the murder means all his hard work could be undone. But in a way that is as deep as "The Las Vegas Story" goes and it is more of a movie which trades on its star power and an action finale. Talking of which the action finale with a low flying helicopter is not bad when taking in to account the age of the movie.
But as I said "The Las Vegas Story" is very much a movie about star power and when you have the beautiful Jane Russell oozing sex appeal it is easy to become engaged in just watching her. And to be frank it seems that director Robert Stevenson was as engaged in watching Russell as we are because all the shots of her highlight her attractiveness and assets. That doesn't mean the likes of Victor Mature and Vincent Price are sidelined, all the stars play their part but none command the camera more so than Russell. Although because the actual storyline is not that great the musical interludes thanks to Hoagy Carmichael are a brilliant distraction especially "The Monkey Song".
What this all boils down to is that "The Las Vegas Story" is the 1950's equivalent of so many modern movies with its reliance on star power and an action ending to entertain. It isn't devoid of story but the crime drama with a romantic angle is very ordinary and mostly predictable.