Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie. Columbia Pictures 1963.

Before watching the movie:

I seem to have moved from a situation where post-1980s films are more abundant to one where there are hardly any to choose from.  Lucky I found Bye Bye Birdie, one of the more popular musicals of the first stage-to-screen push.

I always assumed that Conrad Birdie, the Elvis Presley expy of the story, was a more central character than the synopses I’ve seen make him out to be. It’s all about him, but he sounds more like a Macguffin than a lead player. The actor who plays him isn’t billed specially, and has a name I don’t recognize.

I’m not quite sure why this film/musical has resonated enough to endure in ways others haven’t. It’s not a Grease, but it’s not a… well, the less well-known ones didn’t usually get adapted into films. I can’t really think of a musical film on a lower tier, but I’m sure there are multiple tiers of obscurity yet below this.

Anyway, big stars, big show, and the 1960s before things got tense (well, before the tension got into the mainstream). Some more good clean fun.

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Fitzwilly. The Mirisch Corporation 1967.

Before watching the movie:

I never realized how little I’ve seen of Dick Van Dyke’s work, or the fact that most of it is in television. Even more than Peter Sellers, Dick Van Dyke is just kind of an institution. It strikes me that his best work is in his films of the 1960s and 70s, because those show off not only his comic skill but also often the physicality he didn’t have opportunities to express in domestic sitcoms and is probably no longer capable of. I’m not saying I necessarily expect him to dance on rooftops in this film, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some slapstick for him to get into.

What sort of movie is this? Well, once again I’d never heard of it, but I’m expecting a madcap web of lies caper, and possibly some screwball elements.

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