Bye Bye Birdie (1963): George Sidney’s Best Musical, Starring Ann-Margret

Directed by George Sidney, Bye Bye Birdie is a joyous high school musical comedy film, based on the stage production of the same name.

The screenplay was adapted from Michael Stewart’s book for the musical by Irving Brecher, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams.

The film stars Dick Van Dyke in his feature film debut, reprising his Broadway role as Albert Peterson, along with Maureen Stapleton as Mae Peterson, Janet Leigh as Rosie DeLeon, Paul Lynde reprising his Broadway role as Harry MacAfee, Bobby Rydell as Hugo Peabody, and Ann-Margret as Kim MacAfee.

The story was inspired by the phenom of singer Elvis Presley being drafted into the Army in 1957.

Jesse Pearson plays the role of teen idol Conrad Birdie, whose character name is a word play on country singer Conway Twitty, who was then a teen idol pop artist.

Presley himself was the first choice for the role of Birdie, but his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, rejected the idea as he did not want Presley to parody himself or his career.

Ed Sullivan appears as himself, host of the popular long-running CBS variety show.

The movie made Ann-Margret a superstar, leading to her appearing with Elvis himself in Viva Las Vegas (1964).

By today’s standards, some lyrics of the songs are sexist. Take. for example, the line, “How lovely to wear mascara and smile, a woman’s smile.”

Oscar Nominations:  2

Sound: Charles Rice

Scoring of Music (Adaptation or Treatment): John Green

 

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

The Western anthology “How the West Was Won” received the Sound Oscar, and Billy Wilder’s “Irma la Douce” the Scoring Award (to Andre Previn).