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The Vintage Guide To London | February 22, 2018

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Watch 60s satire Bye Bye Birdie at the BFI

A young Ann-Margret bursts on to the screen in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), a musical satire on Fifties rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis-worship.

When Elvis Presley was famously drafted into the army more than fifty years ago, Broadway and Hollywood responded with this exuberant, good-natured (and curiously neglected) musical satire on rock’n’roll and pop-idol worship.

Digitally restored by Sony-Columbia conservator Grover Crisp from a badly-faded Eastmancolor original negative, complete with refreshed 4-channel stereo soundtrack, the film has hip-swivelling singing sensation Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) being drafted, but not before songwriter Dick Van Dyke and his girlfriend (Janet Leigh) have arranged for him to give a farewell performance on TV’s Ed Sullivan Show and publicly bestow a symbolic goodbye kiss on a lucky Middle American Miss (Ann-Margret) from Sweet Apple, Iowa – much to the chagrin of her steady beau (Bobby Rydell) and parents (Paul Lynde and Mary LaRoche).

Great songs (‘A Lot of Livin’ to Do’, ‘Kids’, ‘Put on a Happy Face’), energetic dancing and, above all, the birth of a star.

This film is shown as part of the BFI London Film Festival – there are plenty of other vintage films on show!

Bye Bye Birdie
Sunday, 23 October
BFI Southbank
Book tickets