I wouldn’t go this screening with a gun at my back + a promise of free quaaludes. The movie is strictly squaresville — a take on the hype and inanity of the rock ‘n’ roll industry by people whose careers peaked in the ’40s and ’50s.
The original 1960 B’way show reflected a stodgy middle-class sensibility that was half-amused and half-appalled by the Elvis Presley phenomenon (hence the Charles Strouse and Lee Adams tune “Kids”). Gower Champion did the choreography, and it costars Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde and Ed Sullivan, for God’s sake.
Conrad Birdie, the idiotic name of the rock star being drafted, is a riff on Conway Twitty, the rockabilly recording star who was once a quasi-rival of Elvis’s on the charts.
And I really can’t stand Ann-Marget‘s singing of the title tune in the opening credits. I mean, it’s awful. This and her performance in Viva Las Vegas…please. In my mind she was finally saved by her performance in Mike Nichols‘ Carnal Knowledge.
Critic Stephen Farber will host the Bye Bye Birdie screening, followed by an onstage discussion with Ann-Margret and Bobby Rydell.