Credit George Sidney with directing one of the better fun and frolic tune packages. The adaptation of the successful  legit musical comedy clearly called for lots of visuals, rather than just dialog and straight story-telling. Additionally, there’s apparently more emphasis on the dance (interesting choreography by Onna White) – more so perhaps than in the original.
Strikingly important in Bye Bye Birdie is Ann-Margret. Singer, hoofer and cutie-pie, all wrapped up into one, she has the magnetism of early-vintage Judy Garland.
Story is the wacky thing about an Elvis Presley type (Jesse Pearson) who’s subject to immediate army call. Goes by the name of Conrad Birdie and he swoons the girls no end, what with all that guitar and hip-notism. Songwriter Dick Van Dyke, trying to make time with Janet Leigh, while his mother, Maureen Stapleton, interferes, also is engaged in having Presley-type appear on the Ed Sullivan TV show while doing his farewell song in Sweet Apple, Iowa. Sullivan is on view, playing the part of Ed Sullivan with remarkable authenticity.
There’s lots of talent involved. The songs as penned by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, fit in nicely. Van Dyke displays a showbiz knowhow far more extensive than his television outings communicate. Leigh is called upon to play it straight, and does so attractively. Stapleton is a comedienne of the first order. Young songster Rydell gets the right kind of chance to warble. Ann-Margret, to repeat, is a wow.
1963: Nominations: Best Adapted Score, Sound