Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Bye Bye Birdie" Flies High, Man

Cleveland Press July 11, 1963

Playing at the Allen right now -- and probably for weeks to come -- is a shiny, bright and colorfully wrapped entertainment package called "Bye Bye Birdie."

This is another example of Hollywood taking a fair stage show, giving it the full treatment and making something extra special out of it.

There's talent aplenty, with everyone getting his chance before the camera in lively production numbers. Director George Sydney doesn't permit the film to lag for a moment, brightens it up frequently with clever visual effects.

The story that concerns itself with the adoration of a rock-and-roll singer is one that will appeal to the younger set. Older folks, and those who scoff at such business, will enjoy the broad satire on this curiously American phenomenon.

Leaves 'em Gasping

Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) is a hip-swinging, gyrating, guitar-slapping singer who leaves the female population gasping and fainting with every twitch.

About to be drafted, Birdie is going to kiss one of his fans goodbye -- a symbolic smooch for all his adoring female fans, and the pleasant business is to be televised on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The bussing also will provide an opportunity for song writer Dick Van Dyke to have enough money to cut his mother's apron strings and marry his secretary, Janet Leigh.

Complications Develop

Ann-Margret is the maiden about to be honored, a distinction not looked upon with favor by her boy friend, Bobby Bydell.

There are complications, all of them humorous, since neither the course of true love nor that of successful press agentry is allowed to run smoothly in musical comedy.

Ann-Margret is a fresh young talent who exudes a wholesome beauty in her quiet scenes and an animalistic sort of sex appeal when she goes into a song. When she moves, she moves all over. '

Dick Van Dyke sparkles. The wide screen provides him with the room he needs to display his comic as well as his song and dance talents.

Sullivan Is Sullivan

A minor TV comic, Paul Lynde, also has room to flex his muscles. Bobby Rydell is an appealing youngster with a pleasant voice and acting ability.

Janet Leigh is as pretty as ever, but it's unfair to have any woman -- no matter how lovely -- play a scene with Ann-Margret.

Ed Sullivan is right as Ed Sullivan. What else?

The songs by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams are beautifully showcased with the clever choreography of Onna White.

Songs Are Fetching

"The Telephone Hour" has the screen come alive with youngsters gossiping over the phone. "Put On a Happy Face" is a clever dance duet; with Van Dyke and Miss Leigh. "A Lot of Living To Do" with Pearson, Rydell and Ann-Margaret is an exuberant, eye-filling spectacle.

One of the fine comic scenes is the arrival of Conrad Birdie in a small town driving his motorcycle up the town hall steps and the ultimate swooning of the entire population.

There's no message in this movie. It's aim is strictly entertainment, and in that it is eminently successful.