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Conrad Birdie is the biggest rock & roll star of the 60's ever to be drafted. Aspiring chemist and song writer Albert is convinced he can make his fortune and marry his girlfriend Rosie if he gets Conrad on the Ed Sullivan show to kiss a high school girl goodbye. Albert's mother will do anything to break him up with Rosie. Kim and Hugo, the high school steadies, live in Sweet Apple, Ohio where most of the action takes place. Written by
Lisa Grable <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With the gift of a DVD by a good friend, I have now viewed BBB for the first time in over 20 years. And the comments here astound me: so many people coming to a message board to complain on a film that isn't a stage show. Or a book. Or an editorial. Different media sometimes (not always, to be sure) necessitate a change or alteration in a story adaptation. Yes, Rosie's ethnicity is down pedaled in the film (mainly because Chita Riviera wasn't in it), but they don't eliminate it entirely by the inclusion of a hideous black wig on Janet Leigh. I didn't miss Albert not being an English teacher as opposed to a chemist at all; it doesn't change the essence of his still-henpecked-by-his-mother character. On a different matter, I'm a little surprised to learn that Dick Van Dyke apparently had a bruised ego because of the strong emergence of co-star Ann-Margret in the film (his name still comes before hers, f'heaven's sakes!), but what can you do? The film is a fun, bright, pseudo-satire of the generation gap, teens, Elvis, and most of all, Ed Sullivan!! The finer numbers include the A-M introduction in "How Lovely to be a Woman" followed by the insane ensemble piece "Sincere-" which contains one of the funniest closing camera pans ever used in a film. "Kids" is also fine, but "Put on a Happy Face" is hampered by the limited dancing ability of Janet Leigh- through no fault of her own, mind you, but an obvious hole in what should have been a boy-girl dance duet (which they try to hide with excessive trick camera effects). The film's standout number, IMO, is "A Lot of Livin' to Do-" a nightclub extravaganza sung by THREE different leads advancing two different plots of the story at once. With stellar direction by George Sidney and inventive choreography by Onna White, it first appears as a conventional girl-swooning solo for the title character, but quickly shifts to the cat-and-mouse antics of torn lovers A-M and Bobby Rydell, who lead the entire club in a kind of challenge dance. And while it isn't her first film, this is the scene (for me, anyway) which shows A-M's breakout performance, dancing in a bare midriff and pair of hot-pink capris- and she blows the roof off the place. No surprise that the next year she was cast opposite Elvis himself. Check it out, and try not to break into dance yourself, I dare you!!
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