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Video Rewind: Life Would Be Better if it Were a Musical

Updated on November 6, 2014
When Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) comes to town everyone goes crazy in Bye Bye Birdie
When Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) comes to town everyone goes crazy in Bye Bye Birdie

Sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving high schools and community theaters give us a treat by presenting a musical. The fall musical is always popular so within the next few weeks there's going to be a lot of singing and dancing going on.

When I was in high school, we did four classic musicals, but since I limit these columns to three movies, we did Guys and Dolls, Bells Are Ringing and Bye Bye Birdie which all lived up to the movie versions. Since I can't sing, I did props for the latter two shows.

The first show we did was Guys and Dolls following the renewal of the districts millage and I had to write up a story for the school paper. I wasn't happy about it, but while at a rehearsal, I think that's when I realized all of the hard work and started to like live musical theater.

Starring Marlon Brando (Sky Masterson) and Frank Sinatra (Nathan Detroit) this is the story of the traveling crap game along and with a $1000 bet you have the makings of a hit. Detroit bets Masterson $1000 that he can't get Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) to go out with him.

But Detroit has problems of his own. His long time fiancée Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) wants to get married or the whole relationship is off.

As Masterson starts to get cozy with Sister Sarah, they head off to Cuba for the night leaving the missionary unattended and the sinners are out for the crap game.

While love and wanting are always the main themes in a musical, one movie which I think is a true musical comedy is Bells Are Ringing which follows the exploits of Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday). As an operator at an answering company, she manages to meddle a little bit into the lives of the clients.

Ella feels like a "mother" to the clients when her boss/cousin Sue (Jean Stapleton) tells her "they're all clients" but Ella feels more attracted to Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin) as a playwright failing miserably in his career.

He needs one hit show to turn his sagging career around and Ella goes about setting things up for him with various contacts who are clients. (If only networking were so easy)

Like Jeffrey Moss, Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke) could use a hit song in Bye Bye Birdie before Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) is drafted. Leave it up to Rosie Deleon (Janet Leigh) to come up with a solution.

After a meeting with Ed Sullivan, Rosie pulls the name of one of Conrad's fans and the town of Sweet Apple, Ohio is turned upside down when Conrad bestows one last kiss to Kim McAfee (Ann-Margaret). If everything works out with the Sullivan show Albert can marry Rosie although his mother Mae (Maureen Stapleton) tries in vain to break the two up.

Things are also a little shaky for Kim and her steady Hugo (Bobby Rydell) since he's jealous of the upcoming kiss and the events surrounding the Sullivan show.

If you're tired of watching High School Musical maybe these movies can help introduce your kids to the golden age of the musical.


Jeffrey and Ella (Dean Martin and Judy Holliday) met just in time in Bells Are Ringing
Jeffrey and Ella (Dean Martin and Judy Holliday) met just in time in Bells Are Ringing

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