Bye Bye Birdie Review

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Publicist Albert arranges a stunt whereby, rock ‘n’ roll star Conrad Birdie will kiss Kim, one of his teenage fans, on the Ed Sullivan Show the night before he is inducted into the army. Conrad and the television production team descend on a small town a


A very underrated musical, adapted from the Broadway musical, but entirely transformed into an energetic film experience by veteran director George Sidney.

A satire of the Elvis Industry, it also gets laughs from its '60s MAD magazine style jabs at the insanities of the ordinary American family. The score, matching memorable tunes from Charles Strouse with witty lyrics by Lee Adams, is outstanding, but the songs are put over by a very enthusiastic cast. Ann‑Margaret, so frisky she probably needed to be tethered between takes, is incredible as the sweater-filling teenage temptress, holding centre screen during dynamite dance numbers choreographed by Onna White, while Paul Lynde (the unmistakable voice of the Hooded Claw) is memorably demented as her television-worshipping father (he had a novelty hit with the bitter, funny song Kids).

The calm centre of the film is Janet Leigh, at her most lovely, who duets with Dick Van Dyke in Put on a Happy Face, while the sole weak spot is Pearson’s insufficiently-Elvisoid Conrad Birdie (though his songs, Honestly Sincere and One Last Kiss are very funny). The film has several lasting legacies in pop culture – that ‘we love you [fill in the blank]’ chant still heard on football terraces comes from the song We Love You Conrad and Oasis’s What’s The Story, Morning Glory is titled after the opening line of the song The Telephone Hour.

Underrated satirical musical that has contributed more to popular culture than many people are aware of.