Our Centennial celebration of director George Sidney continues with Jose on Bye Bye Birdie
George Sidney’s adaptation of the Tony award winning musical Bye Bye Birdie continued showing his prowess when it came to making big, bold, Technicolor musicals. The plot imagines the frenzy surrounding the imminent departure of an Elvis-like superstar, who receives his draft notice, but decides to reward one of his biggest fans with one gift before leaving: a televised kiss. Though the plot’s depiction of how the media thrives on scandals surrounding celebrities was rather prescient (not to mention how it predicts how love and sex would become “prizes” on reality shows) its gender and racial politics have made it one of the most icky musicals of the era.
Its casting proved significant for two reasons: for the big part of Kim MacAfee, the director chose a complete unknown he discovered dancing in a Las Vegas casino. After being selected out of millions, just like Kim, Ann-Margret would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the decade.
In fact just a year after Birdie, Sidney cast her opposite the real life Elvis in Viva Las Vegas -- perhaps as a tribute to how he discovered her and also to Birdie?...