Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  29 May 1962 (Portugal)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,064 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 16 critic

Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. ... See full summary »



(play), (written for the screen by)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas J. Finley, Jr.
Madeleine Sherwood ...
Barry Cahill ...
Dan Hatcher
James Douglas ...
Barry Atwater ...
Ben Jackson
Charles Arnt ...
Mayor Henricks
Dorothy Konrad ...


Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. While trying to get her help to make a screen test, he also finds the time to meet his former girlfriend Heavenly, the daughter of the local politician Tom 'Boss' Finley, who more or less forced him to leave the town many years ago. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He used love like most men use money. See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 May 1962 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

El dulce pájaro de la juventud  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Longtime MGM hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff appears uncredited attending to the hair of Geraldine Page. He was extremely well respected, serving as chief hair stylist at MGM from 1934 until the late 1970s. Although he did not receive onscreen credit, he designed Judy Garland's hair styles for The Wizard of Oz (1939) and made Lucille Ball's hair red for Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), the color she kept it for the rest of her life. See more »


About ten minutes into the movie, Chance Wayne checks into a hotel and his coat is half way on. He then puts it on and the collar is not straight. In the next shot from behind his collar is straight. The next shot shows him walking away and his collar is again slightly crooked. See more »


Chance Wayne: I was employing my other talent: lovemaking.
See more »


Referenced in Stump the Stars: Ed Begley vs. Jeanne Crain (1963) See more »


It's a Big, Wide, Wonderful World
(1939) (uncredited)
Written by John Rox
Played as background music in the swimming scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A wounded bird, but still effective...
29 December 2002 | by (Cincinnati, OH) – See all my reviews

Even with some of the seamier elements removed and with the tweaks in the storyline, this film has great value due to the acting of the principals. Newman stars as a would-be glory boy who has repeatedly failed to make a success of himself and has been reduced to playing gigolo to various wealthy women. Page is a deeply troubled actress on the downside who gets dragged with him to his home town when he plans to get an "in" in Hollywood through her, thus convincing his old sweetheart (Knight) that he worth leaving her family for. Unfortunately, Knight's father (Begley) and brother (Torn) have not forgiven Newman for the fallout from one of his previous visits to Knight. The main thrust of the drama concerns the animosity between Begley and Newman and the balancing act he must maintain with the weary, neurotic Page. Widescreen viewing is a must even though the bulk of the film takes place indoors or on sets. Newman is excellent throughout and the film is offers a rare exploitation of his physical charms (attributes he often fought against during his earlier career.) Page is wonderful, running the gamut of emotions and investing her character with loads of quirks and moments of interest. Knight does very well, though her role is primarily decorative. Begley took home an Oscar for his bellowing, overbearing, vulgar portrayal. Also scoring are Torn as the son trying unsuccessfully to impress Begley and the always interesting Sherwood in a rare sexy role. Dunnock turns in a typically worrisome, effective performance as a Newman supporter. There are two small, but intriguing, gaffes in the film. In one scene, Begley and his cronies are watching a newsreel in a room filled to the brim with smoke, yet (because the image was superimposed later) the screen never has any smoke in front of it. Later, Newman "lights" his cigarette off an oil lamp, yet it doesn't light. He visibly notices this and does his best to cover it. Some of the symbolism is heavy handed (check out the wacky opening!) The film may disappoint devotees of the original play, but it's polished production and memorable acting turns make it a strong piece of work.

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