January 8 was Elvis’s 75th birthday. The Academy Cinemas, a small independent theatre based in the public library, showed a double feature to celebrate:
Betty was in with knobs on. She and the boy person friend reported for duty at three o’clock and found a small but devoted bunch of Americans hanging out in the lobby. The cinema had suggested costumes, but nobody seemed to have dressed up — thankfully, according to some.
It was awesome. Betty had only seen one Elvis movie before (the incomparable Change of Habit), but she enjoyed Jailhouse Rock extremely. It contained many gems: the iconic dance set-piece was, of course, remarkable, but Betty’s favourite moment had to be the superb line, delivered to the King by his medical man, “If you don’t get a hold of yourself, you’ll be a psychological mute, musically speaking”.
In Viva Las Vegas, the implacable pouty-mouthed one fell with sudden finality for Ann-Margret after a chance encounter and proceeded to use a racing-car (a thing she despised; there was a musical number to prove it) to win her tiny heart. This one, Betty is sad to say, was not Elvis’s best work. It did include such timeless love songs as “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care)”, though, so all was by no means lost.
The Academy, incidentally, was fun. Big, roomy seats, chunderous curtains along the walls, plenty of legroom — Betty will go back.