Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

GEORGE SIDNEY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 1963.  Columbia Pictures Corporation, Kohlmar-Sidney Productions.  Screenplay by , based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Production Design by Paul Groesse.  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1963.  Golden Globe Awards 1963.  

Weak adaptation of the hit Broadway musical marks the film debut of , recreating his role from the theatrical version. When Elvis-like superstar Conrad Birdie () is recruited to go off to war and leave millions of screaming female fans stranded without his music, his managers decide to concoct a giant publicity stunt on the Ed Sullivan show to make sure he goes out with a bang: they will randomly select a lovely young American woman for whom to give his “last kiss” to on television. When they pick the lucky little lass (Ann-Margret), it naturally throws her entire life for a loop. Meanwhile, Van Dyke is the struggling composer who has been asked to write Birdie’s last song while trying to survive a desperate fiancée (Janet Leigh) and an overbearing mother (Maureen Stapleton, who was actually the same age as Van Dyke). Whatever was fresh and fun on the Broadway stage fizzles here: the musical numbers feel canned, the characterizations are annoying and even the choreography just seems like rehashed memories of better days.

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