Cast & Crew
Each year, rancher Chuck Rodwell returns to the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada where he hopes to make a fortune using that year's profits to gamble, despite years of losses at the casino's tables. One day in the casino, as temperamental prima ballerina Maria Corvier storms out of her rehearsal in the Copa Room, Chuck grabs her hand for good luck during his game of roulette and consequently wins. Insulted that she is forced to perform her "high art" in a chaotic hotel, Maria haughtily refuses her share of Chuck's profits, but later apologizes for her behavior. When Chuck once again wins a slot machine jackpot as he takes Maria's hand, he attributes his winning streak to her. Returning to her room, Maria calls her manager, Pierre, to break the Las Vegas engagement, but learns she must fulfill it. Meanwhile Maria's chaperone, Mme. Seri Hatvany, having seen Chuck, tells Maria that romantic love motivated her during her dancing career, but Maria insists that her only love is dancing. Later, after hours of losing at the gambling tables, Chuck goes to Maria's room, where he shares his belief that she is his good-luck charm and begs her to test his theory on a slot machine. Maria is bewildered when they win the jackpot two times in row and agrees to a game at a casino roulette table, where they win repeatedly. When Chuck, in his excitement, kisses Maria, she is immediately smitten with the rancher. Despite being anxious to earn more winnings, Chuck agrees to accompany Maria to dinner, after she pleads to spend time alone with him. While watching the evening stage performance, Maria bemoans that she has missed out on life, having been sheltered by the ballet. After spending hours successfully gambling at various casinos, Chuck and Maria arrive at the New Frontier and within minutes have won a considerable sum. On express orders from the casino's owner, dancer Kelly Donavan, one of Chuck's old girl friends, flirtatiously lures the rancher away from the table to prevent him from bankrupting the house. She then invites Chuck and Maria to the Silver Slipper where she performs a sultry stage number. A drunken Maria, jealous of Kelly's sexy routine, stumbles onto the stage and joins the chorus girls in high kicks and lewd hip movements while a photographer catches a snapshot. Later in her hotel room, Maria complains to Seri that she has no skills to seduce Chuck, and then refuses to take Chuck's call. Fearing he will gamble the night's profits away, Chuck gives the money to friend and blackjack dealer Lotzi for safekeeping. When the next morning's paper features a picture of the drunken ballerina's escapade, Sands manager Tom Culdane, fearing bad press, cancels Maria's contract. However later, the Sands' owners insist that the publicity will pack the house and order Culdane to book additional performances. Fearing the temperamental dancer will not accept his apology, Culdane asks Chuck for help, but Chuck refuses, saying he wants only to split the profits and leave Maria alone. Determined to have her own way, Maria approaches Culdane to demand that her contract be upheld, thus solving Culdane's dilemma. That night, Chuck is entranced by Maria's performance during rehearsal and compliments her. Maria at first rebuffs him, but seeing Kelly waiting to compete for Chuck's affections, Maria agrees to go out with him, thus defeating Kelly's efforts. As Maria prepares to leave, Chuck, sensing young Japanese singer Mitsuko Sawamura's stage fright during an audition, encourages her to join him in a crowd-pleasing duet. Touched by his gentle nature, Maria asks to know more about him, prompting Chuck to take her to his ranch. As they tour the property, Chuck and Maria's luck extends to the hens, who suddenly deliver dozens of eggs; to a pregnant cow, who suddenly delivers a healthy calf; and to a derelict oil rig which suddenly spouts the "liquid gold" as they pass it. Later, when his mother, Miss Hattie, declares Maria is the perfect wife, Chuck complains that he has only known her one day and the romance of the ranch will wear off if she was forced to stay there. However, after Maria joins them wearing Chuck's grandmother's western dress, Chuck is so entranced he invites her to stay for dinner. That night, when Miss Hattie asks if Maria has plans for Chuck, the dancer laments that they do not have much in common, but Miss Hattie retorts that they will have living together in common. When Chuck and the ranchhands serenade Maria and then entice her into country-western dancing, the versatile dancer enthralls the crowd with her quick steps. Later, as they leave for Las Vegas, Maria ponders life on the ranch and her growing love for Chuck, who then proposes to her. Upon reaching the hotel, Maria announces her engagement to the newly arrived Pierre, explaining that she will spend six months at the ranch and six months performing. Although he congratulates her on the decision, Pierre secretly hopes to dissuade Maria from the marriage by cunningly suggesting the couple prove their luck in the casino. Dozens of people crowd around the now famously lucky couple to witness the winning streak, but the roulette dice repeatedly fall on losing numbers. When a dejected Maria returns to her room, Pierre happily reports to Seri that "whatever [luck] they had, they lost." Pierre finds Chuck at the bar, and after the rancher admits that the love spell has "broken," Pierre advises him to allow Maria to concentrate on her work the following day. The next morning, Maria and Chuck, disappointed by the change in luck at the tables, agree that that their romance has also come to an end. That night, Maria performs an elaborate modern dance stage rendition of "Frankie and Johnny" with co-star Kelly, while Chuck looks on, still enchanted by the ballerina. When a young bride and groom at Lotzi's table tell him that they have had no gambling luck, but realize their fortune in having found each other, Chuck rushes to Maria's dressing room, where the couple renew their vows and agree to quit gambling.
The Slate Brothers
The Four Aces
Sammy Davis Jr.
Lee Tung Foo
Charles K. Hagedon
Dr. Wesley C. Miller
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Edwin B. Willis
Meet Me in Las Vegas
Front and center in this Joe Pasternak concoction are Dan Dailey as a Nevada rancher addicted to roulette and Cyd Charisse as a ballerina who turns out to be his "Lady Luck" at the gaming tables. While the crux of the plot hinges on their teaming up for untold fortunes at the casinos, and eventually romance, the fun of the film is spotting the various celebrity guest spots. Yes, that's Sinatra hitting the jackpot on a slot machine. Look over there, it's Debbie Reynolds sharing a coke with singer Vic Damone. Isn't that Peter Lorre at the blackjack table snarling, "Hit me, you creep!" If you stay on your guard, you'll also catch glimpses of other Las Vegas entertainers like Dean Martin, Jerry Colonna, and Tony Martin. The Oscar® nominated score by George Stoll and Johnny Green is also a plus and includes guest appearances by Lena Horne performing "If You Can't Dream," and Frankie Laine singing "Hell Hath No Fury."
The real show-stopper in Meet Me in Las Vegas is Sammy Cahn's thirteen minute bop parody of the ballad of "Frankie and Johnny." At the time, MGM was under the relatively new management of Dore Schary and he was against producing more musicals because they were too expensive in relation to their box office returns. According to Cyd Charisse, Schary, with little prior notice, showed up on the set one day to watch the rehearsal of the "Frankie and Johnny" number, which was still in the planning stages. Despite the pressure she felt, Charisse, with the help of choreographer Hermes Pan, put on a spectacular presentation that convinced Schary to keep the costly number in the film. "I went back to my dressing room and I was absolutely drained," Charisse recalls in The Two of Us by Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse. "My head ached and I saw lights flashing in front of my eyes. I had to go home and, when I got there, I couldn't see, or just barely. Half my vision was gone. Tony was frightened for me and quickly sent for a doctor. The diagnosis was that it was just exhaustion, coupled with nervous strain...I needed rest. I was fine the next day. I think it was all worth it, because the "Frankie and Johnny" number made the movie and both became big hits. The vocal to that number, special lyrics by Sammy Cahn, was done by Sammy Davis, Jr. whose rendition could never be topped."
Director: Roy Rowland
Producer: Joe Paskternak
Screenplay: Isobel Lennart
Cinematography: Robert Bronner
Editor: Albert Akst
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary
Music: Nicholas Brodszky, Johnny Green, George E. Stoll
Cast: Dan Dailey (Chuck Rodwell), Cyd Charisse (Maria Corvier), Agnes Moorehead (Miss Hattie), Lili Darvas (Sari Hatvani), Jim Backus (Tom Culdane).
C-113m. Letterboxed. Close captioning.
by Jeff Stafford
Meet Me in Las Vegas
The working titles for the film were Weekend at Las Vegas and Viva Las Vegas. Preceeding the opening credits, members of the musical group "The Four Aces" appear onscreen, with each framed by a playing card, singing the title song. The opening onscreen cast credits differ in order from the closing credits. A written prologue following the opening credits reads: "In the early days of our country's history, the West was a place from which men took vast quantities of gold. Now-at least-they're bringing it all back." Although onscreen credit is given to Eastman Color, August and September 1955 Hollywood Reporter production charts list Ansco Color.
Throughout Meet Me in Las Vegas, lead actress Cyd Charisse performs a variety of dancing styles including ballet, modern, country western, can-can and jazz. According to a September 1, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, conductor and pianist Pete Rugolo, who is credited in the onscreen as "Conductor," performed with his 20-piece orchestra in all floor show and dance numbers seen in the film. Sammy Davis, Jr., who sang the lyrics for the "Frankie and Johnny" number, was heard but not seen onscreen. Several guest stars who had brief appearances in the film as audience members for the casino shows or casual casino patrons, but were not credited onscreen, included: Pier Angeli, Vic Damone, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Elaine Stewart, Dewey Martin, Jeff Richards and Tony Martin, who is married to Cyd Charisse. Actress Henny Backus, who played "bossy wife," was the wife of Jim Backus, who played "Tom Culdane."
Although a October 3, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Marlene Dietrich and Jimmy Durante to the cast, they did not appear in the released film. A October 6, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item adds the following dancers to the cast: Herman Boden, Buddy Bryan, Gene Dailey, Ward Ellis, Dick Humphreys, Maurice Kelly, Clark Lee, Roy Palmer, Frank Radcliffe, Frank Reynolds, Jerry Rush and Buddy Spencer, but the appearance of these dancers and actors in the released film has not been confirmed. Other 1955 Hollywood Reporter news items add Gay Gallagher, Charles Campbell and Ken McClure to the cast. Modern sources adds Steve Forrest to the cast but he was not discernable in the viewed print. Modern sources also add Robert Fuller as a dancer and Jerry Velasco, as the piano player accompanying Lena Horne. Portions of the film were shot on location at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
Meet Me in Las Vegas received an Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, but lost to The King and I. AA February 16, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that on the eve of the film's world premiere in Las Vegas, The Milton Berle Show was to broadcast an hour-long television tribute to Pasternak and the film.
Released in United States Spring March 1956
Released in United States Spring March 1956