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The King and I 

The Viva Ann-Margret! Film Festival

Wednesday, Feb 20 2002
Swedish-born turnip Ann-Margret's pouty mouth, strawberry-blond mane, and kick-ass cleavage may have put her in line with the Marilyn Monroe types of her heyday -- as did that wild affair with the King -- but a fiery edge (and some serious staying power) set her apart from her fresh-faced contemporaries of the '60s and '70s. Now, at 60, the feisty Hollywood hottie hits the Castro for an event in her honor. (She's also in town at the Golden Gate Theater, making her stage debut with the touring production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.) The Viva Ann-Margret! Film Festival is a three-day affair of the virginal-yet-villainous vixen's bustiest blockbusters (benefiting Project Open Hand). It kicks off with a screening of Viva Las Vegas and a live night of the star in conversation with People Are Talking's Ann Frasier -- who, coincidentally, shook pompoms with Ann-Margret on their high school cheerleading squad.

The fest features five of her campiest '60s hits. Viva Las Vegas headlines with singing race-car driver Elvis Presley tearing up the strip with Ann-Margret, the hot local hotel swim instructor. In Bye Bye Birdie, a pubescent crush on an Elvis-like rock star pushes the doe-eyed teenager over the edge, leading her to (golly!) smoke a cigarette. Cult classic Kitten With a Whip finds the 17-year-old screen vixen half-naked and escaping from prison to torment a local married politician (John Forsythe).

The sassy movie queen really comes into her own in Mike Nichols' sordid Carnal Knowledge (1971). She plays the older woman (she's, um, 29) to a young, devilish (and svelte) Jack Nicholson -- a scheming bastard who can't get enough of her lovin'. With her 38D's and bad-girl tactics, she entraps him into marriage. But love goes stale and she goes nuts, ending up half-dead in the bedroom. Nicholson's sinister brows and Ann-Margret's voluptuous figure look even better on the big screen.

About The Author

Karen Macklin


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