Bye Bye Birdie (1963) starring Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Ann-Margret, Maureen Stapleton, Paul Lynde, Bobby Rydell
Bye Bye Birdie is a musical, with the songs held together by a fairly funny story. Actually, there are two or three stories interwoven together. It stars Dick Van Dyke as Albert, an unsuccessful songwriter who wants to be a successful chemist. But his controlling mother (Maureen Stapleton) pressures him into staying in the job. Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend Rosie (Janet Leigh). Rosie gets the idea of saving the song business by having them write a song. A song that’s guaranteed to be a hit.
How? By Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) singing it on the Ed Sullivan show by He’s an expy of Elvis Presley, who’s being inducted into the Army. The final farewell show is being promoted with a nationwide contest. A single teenage girl (Ann-Margret) will say a tearful farewell to Birdie on the show. Much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Hugo (Bobby Rydell) and father (played hilariously by Paul Lynde). Until the father decides to use the “free” advertising on the Ed Sullivan Show.
From this flows confusion, conflict, Albert’s “Speed-Up” pill, the Russian Ballet (seriously) and an eventual happy ending. There’s a lot of very funny verbal humor. Complete with lots of musical numbers along the way:
Songs in Bye Bye Birdie
- Bye Bye Birdie (Ann-Margret)
- We Love You, Conrad (aka. We Hate You, Conrad — sung by the teenage boys)
- The Telephone Song (Bobby Rydell, Trudi Ames and the Sweet Apple Teenagers)
- How Lovely To Be a Woman (Ann-Margret)
- Honestly Sincere
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Hymn for a Sunday Evening
- One Boy (Ann-Margret & Janet Leigh)
- Put On a Happy Face (Dick Van Dyke & Janet Leigh)
- Kids (Maureen Stapleton, Paul Lynde, Dick Van Dyke & Bryan Russell)
- One Last Kiss
- A Lot of Living to Do (Jesse Pearson, Ann-Margret, Bobby Rydell, Lorene Yarnell Jansson and Sweet Apple Teenagers)
- The Shriner’s Ballet (Janet Leigh, along with the Shriners)
- Rose Adagio
- (Everything Is) Rosie/(Everything Is) Hugo (Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret & Bobby Rydell)
Editorial review of Bye Bye Birdie courtesy of Amazon.com
Lots of laughs and great songs have made this all-time favorite based on the hit Broadway show one of the most memorable musicals of all time. When rock star and teenage heart-throb Conrad Birdie gets drafted, the nation’s teenagers go haywire and Conrad’s manager, Albert (Dick Van Dyke), faces unemployment. So Albert and his girlfriend (Janet Leigh) organize a nationwide contest in which one lucky girl wins a farewell kiss from Conrad on the Ed Sullivan Show. Kim McAfee (Ann-Margret) turns out to be the lucky teenager and Conrad’s whole entourage moves into her quiet, Midwestern home much to the chagrin of her ever irritable father (Paul Lynde) and her jealous boyfriend (Bobby Rydell). The result is chaos and a series of hilarious romantic complications.
Trivia for Bye Bye Birdie
- Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde, both veterans of the 1960 Broadway hit, dislike the film version. Van Dyke especially felt it had become too much of a vehicle for Ann-Margret. In the Broadway version of the show, Van Dyke’s role of Albert was much more prominent than that of Kim, who Ann-Margret played in the film version. In his autobiography, Van Dyke said he knew Ann-Margret’s role was going to be expanded when he once came on the set and found her sitting in the lap of George Sidney, the director.
- Despite portraying the mother of Dick Van Dyke’s character in the film, Maureen Stapleton is just six months older than Van Dyke.
- The uncredited teenagers included future actresses and celebrities
- Feature-film debut of Dick Van Dyke.
- Director George Sidney was a co-founder and part-owner of cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera Productions. Hanna-Barbera cartoon merchandise is prominently displayed throughout the film.