Movie Review: Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1963 musical/comedy starring Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret.

Synopsis: American teenage girls are devastated when singing sensation Conrad Birdie is drafted. However the national "tragedy" turns into an opportunity for a struggling songwriter when his fiancee makes arrangements for him to write a song that Birdie will perform during a farewell appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The concert also turns into an opportunity for teenager Kim McAfee, who is selected to give Birdie a goodbye kiss on stage, assuming her protective father and jealous boyfriend will let her.


My wife, oldest daughter and I planned on taking a drive down to the Madison area late yesterday morning to do some shopping. But, before we could leave, we had to wait for my parents to get done running their errands so they could watch my youngest daughter (she didn't want to go with us).

While waiting, I was flipping through some of our movie channels and came across this film. I had seen it before, but couldn't remember much about it. So, I decided to watch it again and it turned out to be a good decision.

I didn't used to like musicals all that much but have been watching them more often lately. And, in this particular case, this film was pretty much everything I would ask for in a musical.

First, the plot was both funny and, while a little dated, was still somewhat easy to relate to, especially since I have daughters of my own. For example, while it was obvious why Kim (Ann-Margret) would get excited about being able to kiss her idol, Conrad Birdie (Pearson), I found I was on her dad's (Paul Lynde) side when he was opposed to it.

Plus, since she was already in a relationship with her boyfriend, Hugo (Bobby Rydell), I found I was curious about just how that would end up affecting things, especially since he wasn't OK with her opportunity from the start. I kind of figured it would eventually put a pretty big wedge in their relationship, forcing her to decide if she cared enough for him to turn down her once-in-a-lifetime chance.

The film also had quite a few twists and turns ranging from an on again/off again relationship between the song writer (Van Dyke) and his fiancee (Leigh) as well as uncertainty over whether or not Birdie would actually get a chance to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show or not. This did keep things interesting because the end of the movie wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be.

As far as the songs go, as is usually the case with musicals, I didn't enjoy every one of them. However, there were some that were actually pretty decent. The opening/closing number "Bye Bye Birdie" got stuck in my head most of the day while Ann-Margret's performance of "How Lovely to Be a Woman," complete with pseudo strip tease, was actually pretty darn hot (to the point I had to check to make sure she wasn't REALLY 16 when she performed it so I didn't feel like some sort of pervert).

Bye Bye Birdie

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-t...

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Final Opinion

This is a great classical musical that I've enjoyed each time I've watched it. If you have not seen this film, I do recommend watching it when you have an opportunity to do so.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 02/21/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/07/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system here has Bye bye Birdie among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So this is a piece of American culture that I look forward to seeing.

Online sources indicate that the film was inspired by Elvis Presley being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957. Now what would film-makers have done if they ever had decided to make a sequel?

sheilamarie on 02/22/2016

I remember watching that movie when I was a kid. The trailer was hilarious. Paul Lynde makes me laugh.

Judy on 02/21/2016

I loved this movie!

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