Bye Bye Birdie (1963) Poster

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A Lot of Livin' to do.
movibuf19621 July 2005
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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A time and a place that we thought would not end
stairstars4 September 1999
This musical, for those of us who were of the age then, represents a time and a place we thought would not end. Entering our early teens in suburbia, begat of young war veterans, the biggest issues in our lives were those reflected in this film; who pinned who and the adulation of our musical icons. The whole world was Sweet Apple and "someday we would find out this was what life was all about" as Kim sings to a befuddled Hugo. Even nerds could fall in love. And an equal force in our weekly lives was the Sunday ritual of The Ed Sullivan Show. This is a beautiful homage to that world that would end seven months later in Dallas and bring with it the counter culture, riots and Viet Nam. Hard to put on a happy face... But you will with this score. More fifties and Bosa Nova then the hip sixties it is toe tapping and gets under your skin. Worth repeat viewings. And as always "I gotta be sincere..if you feel it in here.." and I still do.
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Single best reason to watch
t_k_matthews8 June 2010
It's not the amiable performance of Dick Van Dyke, emerging as a star.

It's not the fresh-from-the-shower Janet Leigh as Rosie.

It's not the pretty good Broadway score.

It's not the always-funny Paul Lynde, leering and lavender, an unlikely mouthpiece for the eternal frustrations of fatherhood. (Kids! I don't know what's wrong with these kids today!)

It's certainly not the hokey and unconvincing and undangerous Elvis/Conway Twitty rock'n'roller who looks like he just came from a gig at the used car lot.

And it's not the silly subplots involving Russians and amphetamines and Ed Sullivan (although nice to see the wooden, totemic variety show host reanimated again.)

It is, of course, Ann-Margaret, impossibly young and beautiful.

But let's be more specific. It is not her sinfully delicious performance generally.

It is this: Ann-Margaret, alone before a backdrop, singing the theme at the very beginning and end of the movie. It is Ann Margaret fired up with sensual energy and burning through a song that is not inherently sexy.

Oh, Lord: righteous.

I was 13. I saw the movie, but *experienced* Ann-Margaret's opening and closing.

I've never recovered.
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The Changes Were Necessary
Eric-62-216 November 2004
I am usually in the corner of those who complain about how Hollywood generally altered many classic Broadway stage musicals into something radically different when they were made into movies. Most of the time, the changes were ridiculous and weakened the property dramatically.

"Bye Bye Birdie" though, is the rare exception where the changes made to get it to the big screen were absolutely necessary. And nothing demonstrates this more than the fact that the faithful 1995 TV version is a lumbering, slow-moving mess that manages to demonstrate perfectly how what plays great on the stage does not always translate effectively to the film medium.

By contrast, the 1963 film version decided to make itself a bright, colorful film extravaganza that played to the strengths of the film medium. And the results in my opinion, worked wonderfully.

To a stage fan like "citybuilder" who rips the changes from the play, he needs to stop and think of how the structure of the stage version, which has the Sullivan show moment and the punching of Conrad as an Act I finale, would never have worked on film. It simply makes more cinematic sense to move that to the end. And the whole big deal over Rose's ethnicity, which was really done to showcase the talent of Broadway lead Chita Rivera, would have been a distraction as well because spotlighting Albert's mother as a racist would have gone against the whole tone of the movie (and truth be told "Spanish Rose" is not that great a song). Likewise, it's better to have Albert sing "Put On A Happy Face" to Rose rather than a nameless Conrad Birdie fan we never see again.

Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde offer the right amount of gravitas from the Broadway cast, Janet Leigh in her black wig gets to show off her dancing talent which she seldom got a chance to do (her singing is admittedly a bit thin, but she gets by), and of course Ann-Margret totally elevates the role of Kim McAfee into a star vehicle, and who can blame them for doing this? Her rendition of the title song written for the film is enough to leave one gasping for air, yet she still manages to be convincing as the wide-eyed teenager just the same.

Ultimately, stage fans can be satisfied that they got the version they prefer done on film (though it should be noted that the 95 version is not a pure rendition of the 1960 stage script, but rather the 1991 touring revival), but movie fans got the better end of things with this version in 1963. It will never be among the great movie musicals, but it is two solid hours of colorful early 60s fun.
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Spreading Sunshine All Over The Place
bkoganbing30 November 2007
Bye Bye Birdie which ran a most respectable 607 performances on Broadway was the second musical by the team of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams. And though they've been responsible for such additional Broadway hits as Applause, Golden Boy, All American, not one other of their shows has ever been adapted to the screen.

Though Bye Bye Birdie contains a number of hit songs still performed frequently today, it's never been revived. Interesting in that Grease which was a satire of that pre-Beatles era of rock and roll is performed all the time. You'd think the real article would occasionally be revived.

The only ones who make the transition from Broadway to Hollywood from the cast are Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde. Probably because respectively they are so identified with the songs Put On A Happy Face and Kids that no one would see the film if they weren't in it.

Based on the great pop culture uproar when Elvis Presley got drafted, Bye Bye Birdie is about a contest thought up by production assistant Janet Leigh to the Ed Sullivan Show to help her struggling songwriter boyfriend Dick Van Dyke. He writes a song One Last Kiss and Janet puts the idea to Sullivan to have Conrad Birdie {Jesse Pearson) sing it on the show to a special Conrad Birdie fan selected at random and bestow one last kiss before Uncle Sam takes him.

The lucky girl is Ann-Margret of Sweet Apple, Ohio and wouldn't you know that she'd come from a town like that. The teen virgin roles Sandra Dee didn't get are the ones Ann-Margret got and unlike Dee, that girl could sing and dance. Her boyfriend is Bobby Rydell who was at the height of his teen idol popularity as well and they do make an attractive and charming couple.

The dynamic of the triangle of Birdie, boyfriend, and fan is a very big change from the Broadway show. Realize that Bobby Rydell's part was played on Broadway by Michael J. Pollard and you KNOW it has to be different. Rydell, Pearson, and Ann-Margret sing and dance A Lot of Living To Do.

Janet Leigh is not thought of as a musical performer, but she did acquit herself well, though she would never have classified herself in Chita Rivera's echelon as a dancer. Leigh was in Howard Hughes's earlier attempt at RKO for a big musical in Two Tickets to Broadway and she did well there as she does here.

To say Bye Bye Birdie is from a more innocent time is to belabor the obvious. But if Grease can be continually revived, why can't Bye Bye Birdie?
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Not for kids
Monkasi20 January 2001
I really mean it. On the surface, it appears to be a funny, innocent, slap-happy musical. And it is - at least during the first half of the movie. Then it starts to wink at itself. I was ten when I first saw it, and though I enjoyed it a lot of it went way over my head. Watching it now, ten years later, I realize that BYE BYE BIRDIE is actually a smart, sophisticated satire that's not for kids.

The title character is Conrad Birdie, a vain, oily rock-'n'-roll star who's been drafted by the army. In fact, the movie focuses not so much on him as it does on the other characters - a songwriter and producer (Dick Van Dyke), his girlfriend (Janet Leigh), and a teenage girl named Kim (Ann-Margret). Forget Jesse Pearson, who plays Conrad; it's Van Dyke and Margret's movie all the way.

As I said, this film is actually a satire. There are so many in-jokes and jabs at the 1960s that watching it is almost like reading an issue of MAD or CRACKED magazine. In particular, the Cold War comes in for some heavy ribbing (this movie was made during 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis); the Soviets are made to look like pompous buffoons, with one guy even whacking himself in the head with his shoe (hint, hint). It's still pretty funny nearly four decades later, but I can imagine how much more of a punch it would have packed back during those foreboding times. In other scenes, the movie predates the style of John Waters by poking some fun at suburbia.

Lots of satire - and most of it decisively adult. You can bet that kids simply won't understand the scathingly sarcastic remarks delivered by Kim's Archie Bunkeresque father (Paul Lynde), or Kim's budding sexuality. And of course they're not going to be familiar with Ed Sullivan (himself). Still, there are lots of joyfully kinetic dance numbers and memorable songs (most notably "Going Steady," "Got a Lot of Livin' To Do," and the tune everybody remembers: "Put on a Happy Face"). Kids will want to fast-forward the VCR to the musical numbers, and also the funniest moment in the picture, which involves a glass of drugged milk and a ballet conductor.

An excellent, well-made, highly underestimated comedy, and infinitely superior to the made-for-TV version from 1995. So get a bowl of popcorn and check out this classic piece of popular culture. Just be prepared to explain a lot to the kiddies...
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You are now entering the year 1963
markochris25 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
. . . and oh what a year it was. Other movies have tried to take you back to that time with some measure of success, ("Hairspray" and "the Flamingo Kid" come to mind) but they pale in comparison. This is the original - this movie WAS 1963. The end of the camelot era (I did hear that this actually was the last movie that JFK got to see before he died).

Oh, on that note, did you ever notice on the "Dick Van Dyke" show a certain resemblance that Dick and Mary Tyler Moore bore to a certain couple in the White House at the time? Yes, we all know how it's a parody of Elvis, so I won't go there, but add Ed Sullivan, russians slamming shoes on the table etc. That was an era that would end too soon. (On a personal note, my father tragically died early in 1964 so this movie does bring back very special memories for me) Other than that, while it's in no way a break through in cinema, it's sheer joy from beginning to end. And just look at the list of names of people connected with this that would go on to become major stars after this: Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Maureen Stapleton, the musical comedy writing team of Adams-Strouse (and keep any eye out for some extras including Kim Darby !) No collection of movies is complete without this one, either for pleasant musical-comedy or a study of how life was in days gone by. this is one which will never die.
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A Boomer Touchstone.
tjonasgreen18 January 2006
When 'Bye Bye Birdie' was the hit of the '59-'60 season on Broadway, it was as much for its satirical edge as for the talent on stage or the innovative direction by Gower Champion. By that time it was only too clear to savvy adults that Elvis Presley and rock'n'roll had been thoroughly co-opted and mainstreamed by Hollywood and Madison Avenue. For all its supposed danger and subversiveness in 1956, Rock was a pop culture commodity like any other by the end of the decade.

And by the time BYE BYE BIRDIE hit the screen in 1963, that point was too obvious to have any edge. Presley had long since become a bland and unfashionable movie personality, and rock itself had devolved into the kind of inconsequential June/Moon tunes that in a slightly different form had been hit parade staples for decades.

So the point is, the teen world BYE BYE BIRDIE was parodying was largely gone by that time already. Just a year later, when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan (ironically he was still a King Maker but not for much longer) that world began to dissolve and reform unforgettably. So BIRDIE is the swan song for an era and an expression of Baby Boom nostalgia for kids who were too young to have enjoyed the '50s in quite the same way their older brothers and sisters had. How many children in '63 thrilled to the vigorous twitching of Ann-Margret and Bobby Rydell, hoping that was the teen world that awaited them in the future, only to discover by '68 that alienation and anger were the currency of the day? Not that those emotions were misplaced -- the times themselves demanded them. But there was a sense of loss too, a sense that we had been cheated out of fun: silly, twitchy dances and full skirts and snug pastel pullovers. There's a reason this film made an indelible impression on children then, and perhaps most on girls and gay boys.

It was an old-fashioned musical in a movie era that was confused but evolving rapidly, and Ann-Margret was a transitional star of that moment. A throwback to another Hollywood, she gets the traditional star buildup here, and it works spectacularly. Like Rita Hayworth in GILDA, A-M was the good/bad girl -- fresh and sweet and direct enough to please any elder, but with a smoldering animal eroticism so potent the screen seemed barely able to contain it. She is hot in the runway opening and delicious thereafter but she doesn't really become a star until a pivotal moment in the 'Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do' number when her eyes narrow, she smiles and grits her teeth and her hands envelope the head of a chorus boy while she parses out the lyrics of female sexual emancipation -- Daddy won't know his daughter indeed.

It was a sexual call to action that kids understood and responded to. So THIS was what being a teenager would be like! In that moment and the few minutes that followed, even gay boys felt the tops of their heads come off. It's an excitement that doesn't return until the coda: once again A-M is on the runway, but this time any pretense that she is sweet, innocent Kim McAfee has gone -- this is Ann-Margret, and the sexual light and heat of a new star is palpable. Unfortunately, she was almost immediately to become outdated. Within a few years she was a joke in pictures, and had to wait until 1971 and CARNAL KNOWLEDGE to make a 'comeback' -- at the age of 30, no less. She had made the mistake of starting too late, and being too traditional a Hollywood star just when Hollywood decided to do away with stars, at least those that were provokingly lovely.

So BIRDIE trembled on the edge of a new, harsher era, and those of us who were caught on the cusp of that upheaval feel great affection for the fantasy of rock stars like Birdie, for Sweet Apple High, and for the bouncy, shiny, crisp teenagers we never were.
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Just too cool.
roarshock7 July 2000
Instead of an adaptation of the original musical, it might be better to think of this movie as "A Variation on the Theme of Bye Bye Birdie." I've loved it since I was a kid and I don't really care how much or how little it's been changed. As a work standing on it's own it is wonderful, goofy, and good fun. An excellent piece of musical film-making. The casting is superb and I still laugh throughout the movie. Dated? Somewhat. Perhaps only superficially. 'N Sync was just in town and their effect here makes me think there's something fundamentally timeless about the behavior of teenage girls. I've heard it was the same when Frank Sinatra was a young singer. And there may be something timeless about us guys too... I'm still a sucker for the beginning and ending with Ann-Margret singing. She opens the movie sounding like a whining petulant little girl and at the end her reprise is as a worldly sophisticated sex-kitten. Just too cool.
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More than a musical, it's a celebration of an era!
BobLib7 February 2000
I tend to agree with Alice from Orlando regarding this film. While "Bye Bye, Birdie" is a terrific film with terrific performances, viewed today, it's also a tribute to an era that we'll never get back. I completely agree with those historians who feel that 1953 - 1963, the ten year period between the end of the Korean War and that dark day in Dallas, was the last real "Era of Good Feeling" in American history. By and large, we knew who we were, what we were, and where we were going. Then came political assasination, the "Summer of Love," Viet Nam, Watergate, et. al., and we have a society that's not sure of anything anymore. Happily, there are films like "Bye Bye, Birdie," made during the apex of the 1953-63 period, to remind those of us who came of age during that era what we've lost, and to show those who weren't there what it was like. Would that we all had a Sweetapple, Ohio, to go back to again.
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Great Fun!
johnm_00110 October 2000
While much of this Broadway hit has been altered for the film version, it doesn't really matter. The theatrical film production of "Bye Bye Birdie", is leaps and bounds of fun, over its stage counterpart (and the wretched TV remake). Every cast member gives it their all, with scene stealing performances from Paul Lynde (from the Broadway cast) and Maureen Stapleton. Dick Van Dyke (from the Broadway cast) and Janet Leigh are wonderful as Albert and Rosie, Bobby Rydell, proves that he can act and dance, as well as sing; but it is Ann-Margret who caused such a sensation, when the film was released. She may not exactly look like any sixteen year old you know, but she's just plain perfect in the role. The musical numbers (choreographed by Onna White), are exceptional. Every one of them is a highlight. This is one of the best screen musicals, ever. Don't miss it!
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Hollywood makes a Broadway classic its own
marknyc20 August 2002
The vitriol below from fans of the Broadway original is absurd. Yes, this is not a filmed version of the stage play - GET OVER IT! What we have is a funny, smart, classic film musical that gets virtually everything right. Dick Van Dyke reprises his Broadway role while at the peak of his career, Paul Lynde gives his best film performance, Maureen Stapleton milks her part for all it's worth, and Ann-Margret is simply astounding! The only casting error is Janet Leigh - but they needed a name, since everyone else in the cast was unknown at the time. While Leigh gives a solid performance, songs had to be cut since she could sing only with difficulty. But this is a minor flaw - everything else about this film is spot on, as demonstrated by the sad effort to redo it for TV in 1995. It captures the era perfectly - of course, it's dated: it's about America in the early 60s! If it wasn't dated, it wouldn't work! So if you haven't seen it, get it - I just watched in in NYC's Bryant Park with thousands of jaded New Yorkers, and it won over that audience completely. Enjoy!
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great movie
Pirate_Smile_CC11 March 2006
I personally loved this movie. It was so great, the music, the acting, all so fun and light. It really caught teenagers' attention, a task that was earlier unsuccessful by West Side Story. I would suggest this movie to anyone, its that great. The only thing I hate is how hard it is to find on DVD! Ann-Margret was fabulous as always and just to die for as the bubbly teenager, Kim Mcaffee. Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde were quirky and hilarious as well. They played their characters so memorably. Of course, we cant forget Janet Leigh, looking beautiful in a black 'do. The most commendable songs, "Bye Bye Birdie," "Put on a Happy Face," and "Alot of Livin' to do" were catchy as well as charming.
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I just don't understand why everyone is so anti!!!!
Sweet Charity8 September 2002
Many of the comments on this page have been negative... saying the film was horribly butchered with ridiculous plot twists and a horrible Conrad Birdie, and better yet, a sorely miscast Janet Leigh. I beg to differ!

I have been a fan of this film for years, and recently bought the 1995 version. While the film DID change plot aspects (as oft happens when a Broadway show is brought to Hollywood, and I realize that Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde were very upset by this) and delete songs (most of them belonging to Rosie, who happens to be my favorite character), it is a far cry better than 1995's TV version.

1995's version bored me. The only good thing about it was the inclusion of "An English Teacher," "Normal, American Boy," "What Did I Ever See in Him?", "Baby, Talk to Me," and a ridiculously altered "Spanish Rose" and a great performance by Vanessa Williams. (Too bad she definitely didn't look Hispanic.) The choreography was boring, the cast paled (Jason Alexander was all right, just not an Albert type, and Marc Kudisch was disgusting as Conrad Birdie)... it just wasn't FUN.

But this version is. Dick Van Dyke, repeating his Broadway role, is superb. I love this man, and he's SUCH a triple-threat talent it's insane. He's hilarious as Albert, the mama's boy who's been taking his lovely little Rose for granted. "Rose. Little rose. A precious flower that I trampled on." Then you have Ann-Margret. Yes, we know, she's sexy, but there is more to her than sex-appeal. Her vocals in this film are incredible, much more "big Broadway" sounding than Chynna Phillips could ever hope to be and far more believable as Kim. She's great. Paul Lynde is HILARIOUS. He is THE Harry MacAfee, without a shred of doubt. As incredible as his and Dick Van Dyke's performances were, I must say you couldn't *tell* that they hated this film. For some reason, I really enjoyed the mother in this film as well... reminded me a bit of Donna Reed in character and style. Maureen Stapleton is perfect as overbearing, obnoxious Mae Peterson. And Bobby Rydell is the BEST Hugo Peabody. He's funny, he's kind of gawky but highly adorable... he's terrific. But let's get to the one person that everyone seems to dislike in her role as Rosie.

Janet Leigh.

Granted, her voice is not up to par with the likes of Chita Rivera. But really, who is? Chita could have done a terrific job in this role, but I understand that they were looking for a name, and there honestly was no one better than Janet Leigh. She's funny, she's beautiful, she's warm, she's charismatic, and at least she's on-key! Her dance with the shriners is a riot, and there is nothing cuter than the moment when Albert catches her in his arms. She and Dick Van Dyke have amazing chemistry in this film.

So, would I recommend this movie over the 1995 version?

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Real 1960's Nostalgia
dglink31 October 2010
Although George Sidney directed some classic MGM musicals, his adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway hit, "Bye Bye Birdie" for Columbia is not often mentioned. The oversight is unfair, because "Birdie" is a lively, tuneful, and often inventive film musical. Where "Grease" strove to create nostalgia by invoking the 1950's and 60's, "Birdie" was filmed in 1963 and is the real thing. Although the music is generally more Broadway than late-50's rock, the film includes a genuine 1950's teen heartthrob in Bobby Rydell, and an authentic icon of the period in Ed Sullivan. Both Rydell and Sullivan were still popular when the film was made and, unlike the bygone stars in "Grease," were not dragged from the attic for walk-ons.

Conrad Birdie, a thinly disguised Elvis, has been drafted. Aspiring songwriter, Dick Van Dyke, and his secretary, Janet Leigh in an awful black wig, concoct a plan to have Birdie bestow a goodbye kiss on one lucky girl and sing a song to be written by Van Dyke. All of this to take place on the "Ed Sullivan Show." Ann -Margret from Sweetwater, Ohio, is the lucky girl.

Although Ann-Margret is a bit hot to be the steady of Bobby Rydell, she is dynamite on the dance floor and smolders during her numbers. Obviously, the director and producer fell in love with her, and she upstages everyone, including two members of the original Broadway cast, Van Dyke and Paul Lynde. However, Lynde does hold his own as Ann-Margret's father, and he has an amusing musical number in "Kids." Also funny is Maureen Stapleton, who stomps around in sensible shoes and a fur coat as Van Dyke's mother. To Leigh's frustration, Stapleton does everything to keep her "baby" from falling into marriage and out of her control.

"Bye Bye Birdie" has a number of good songs, some lively choreography, and clever effects that distinguish it from the more traditional musicals like "Show Boat" that Sidney directed for MGM. Although Van Dyke has the central role, he is not a standout. Perhaps the part of Albert Peterson was meant to be a bland foil for the two women in his life, who spar for control. Although Leigh is miscast as Rosie DeLeon, a Latina part that belongs to Chita Rivera, she does well despite the wig. However, Ann-Margret opens the film, closes the film, and, in between, sizzles and dazzles in a star-making role.
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Amazing must-see!!!!!
ka-leidoscope3 November 2004
I don't really like musicals, because they always turn out sappy and overromantic. Yet Bye Bye Birdie was truly great. I watched it once, then at least a dozen more times after.

Janet Leigh, Ann-Margaret, and Dick Van Dyke were all exceptionally good actor/actresses. The songs and singing were phenomenal, and the expressions on their faces even better.

Jesse Pearson plays Conrad Birdie, the 'hottie' rockstar of his time. Kim McAfee (Ann-Margaret) is his biggest fan, and the leader of his fan club. Much to everyones dismay, Conrad Birdie is about to be drafted and no one can obviously do much about it. He has a contest for girls to be chosen for his Farewell Kiss, which will be shown live on TV. Kim is ecstatic when she is chosen.

Truly a funny but touching musical. *****/***** stars. Definitaly recommended.
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Something for everyone equals GREAT!!!
raptor57 February 2005
I have read a review of Ann-Margret (Olsson) that was packed with astute observations and high in deserved praise. But I might also have read equally worthy paeans for the comic genius of Dick Van Dyke, the seasoned, veteran brilliance of Janet Leigh (Jamie Leigh-Curtis is terrific but I miss her mother terribly!) Bobby Rydell's restraint in applying his own sales-honored talent, Maureen Stapleton's convincing capacity to portray the mother of someone her own age, Paul Lynde's character-acting, so richly yet deftly applied that his own sexual preference became so caricatured it was never recognized as genuine … and I could go on from there. My precocious 12-year-old credits this treasure trove of talent for raising "Bye Bye Birdie" to a such a lofty level of appeal, and after wondering for 42 why I became a fan at age 13, I suppose my son has solved the "mystery!"
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preppy-312 February 2001
Big singing star Conrad Birdie (obviously a parody of Elvis Presley) is being drafted. He's to give one last kiss to a fan (Ann-Margret) throwing her life, and her family's, into turmoil. Energetic, colorful musical. The script is sharp and the performances on target. There are many great songs (title tune, "The Telephone Hour", "Honestly Sincere", "Put On A Happy Face", "Kids") which take full advantage of the wide screen (letter-boxed is a must). The dancing and singing is all great. Ann-Margret is young, beautiful and bursting with life; Paul Lynde is hilarious as her father; Maureen Stapleton is loud and overbearing (but she's supposed to be); Dick Van Dyke is OK; Janet Leigh is great; Bobby Rydell is just annoying. A bit dated (the Ed Sullivan references will be lost on young kids) but still fun. Well worth seeing. "Daddy, it's my hair!" "Not until you're 21!"
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Sometimes it sparkles, sometimes it grates...
moonspinner5510 April 2006
A frenetic rendering of the Broadway smash which fails to stay the course due to a wafer-thin script which doesn't follow through on its own set-up (a kiss between a singing idol on his way to the Army--à la Elvis--and a smitten teen with a troubled love life). Ann-Margret, at the peak of her sexy/innocent charms, simply cannot be equaled when she's front and center; the fiery, orange-haired young woman attempts to be modest--but most of her sidelong glances, responses and dance-moves reveal a vixen. She's probably too old to be playing a bobbysoxer, but she lights the screen up in such a way that no one wants to mince words. Janet Leigh (in an odd brunette wig) is sweet as a secretary, but there's too much of her--we don't really need the dance sequence with the Shriners, but apparently Leigh did. Dick Van Dyke and Maureen Stapleton (as a mamma's boy and his mamma) just get in the way, but Paul Lynde makes his suburban pop something to relish and Bobby Rydell is likable enough as A-M's slightly pushy beau. The film ends with a messy sequence, its cast turned into a mob, with ideas thrown around and a situation not fully realized. It moves fast and has a pleasantly scrubbed atmosphere, but only Ann-Margret is worth swooning over, doing her best to convince us she's a good girl. *** from ****
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Jesse Pearson Rules!!!
bob dove26 April 2000
My all-time favorite musical,even if I've never seen the Broadway version.Probably just as well,because after seeing the movie version as many times as I have,seeing the theater version would probably be a BIG disappointment.What's not to like about this movie?Only a stuffed-shirt theater snob would hate this picture.Great cast,great songs,cool choreography....and the late,great Jesse Pearson as the man himself,Conrad Birdie.Watch it WHENEVER you get the chance!!!
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Entertaining and far better than '95 version
Morning Star13 January 2003
I recall first seeing this film when it was released on the big screen and I was a young was one of my favorite childhood films. And I still find it entertaining whenever I take out the old video of it and watch it again. The highlights for me are Maureen Stapelton's performance as the Jewish mother (in all but name). I *know* that woman and she's my former mother-in-law, only Stapleton's version is the funny one. Being a female I can say I see that Ann-Margaret looks great in this film and I understand why so many of the male people who have commented here have spoken at length about her performance. I do want to say something about Jesse Pearson who plays Conrad Birdie. I disagree strongly with what others here have said, I think he did a fabulous job as the Elvis impersonator he was slotted to play. He's got the Elvis looks, the swagger, the voice, he's tall and he has a great dimpled smile. He's quite sexy indeed. And so unlike that yobo they landed for the '95 TV version who's as sexy as Wonder bread and has the voice that I imagine Maureen Stapleton would have if she ever sang. UGH! In every way this 1963 movie version is vastly superior to the TV/play version of '95.
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Fun 60's Musical!
Blooeyz200130 May 2002
The opening & closing scenes of Ann-Margaret singing "Bye Bye Birdie", against a blue screen, are absolutely sumptuous! Still very exciting almost 40 later! She played the role of Kim with plenty of sweet/sexy spunk. Dick Van Dyke looks like he finished filming an episode of his TV show, then went straight to this set for filming (complete with drab Dick Petrie suits). Janet Leigh's Rose DeLeon was stripped of her latin heritage (from the play), yet they gave her an ethnic look with that black hair (go figure). Her "singing" leaves a lot to be desired & her dance routine at Maude's Club was pretty unnecessary. Chita Rivera should have been recruited for the role. Bobby Rydell (popular singer of the day) is adorable, sweet, & innocent as Hugo with a pleasing lounge lizard voice & a great head of hair. Jesse Pearson is a little too bloated & long-in-the-tooth to be making teenage girls swoon. Maureen Stapleton is grating. That big, stupid fur coat she wore throughout the movie always gives me hot flashes. I kind of wished that oven she stuck her head in was gas instead of electric! Paul Lynde is at his hyper-neurotic funniest. The songs are cool. My favorites are "The Telephone Hour", "Honestly Sincere", "One Last Kiss", "One Boy", "A Lot Of Living To Do", & of course Ann-Margaret singing the theme!!!! ;)
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Charmingly ridiculous
cricketbat7 July 2020
Bye Bye Birdie is so ridiculous that it's endearing. From the campy acting to the silly songs to the outlandish story, I found myself caught up in the excitement of this classic musical. This movie knows what it is, and it revels in it. It's also genuinely funny. I found myself laughing out loud a number of times. I gotta be sincere, this movie still holds up decades after it was made.
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Lots of Fun in a "Grease" Precursor
LeonardKniffel29 April 2020
Realizing after the film was completed that Ann-Margret was the hottest commodity in cinema; the studio slapped on an extra number of her screeching the title song and tried to bill her as the real star. Actually, "How Lovely to Be a Woman" and "A Lot of Living to Do" are quite sufficient to show what a talent she was. Meanwhile, the real love story, starring Janet Leigh and Dick Van Dyke, gets buried. Adapted from the play of the same name, the film features several cute comedy bits about being a teenager, and some great romantic tunes, the best of which is "Put on a Happy Face." "The Telephone Song" and Paul Lynde's rendering of "Kids" are very funny. If you like "Grease," remember, this one came first. Television icon Ed Sullivan plays himself in a central role in the film; he can't act and he can't sing, but he provides the set-up that had everybody in the movie theater thinking of Elvis Presley's well publicized induction into the Army while watching the fictional Conrad Birdie. ---Musicals on the Silver Screen, American Library Association, 2013
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