The plot, telling of a rock'n'roll star's invasion of a small town (Sweet Apple, Ohio) contains several funny moments (mainly Maureen Stapleton's turn as Dick Van Dyke's over-possessive mother) and the well-known songs like "Put On A Happy Face" (which practically everybody must have sung) and "Got A Lot of Living To Do" which showcases the young cast in a delirious dance number, particularly Ann-Margret in those hot pink capri pants and matching top! Stapleton and Paul Lynde (as Ann's very camp father) also go town on "Whats the matter with kids today?". It seems the movie is different from the original show - but then what movie musical isn't (CABARET and FUNNY GIRL come to mind). It is zippily directed by George Sidney (KISS ME KATE etc) and is just enormous fun, poking fun at the rockstar going into the army (just like Elvis) and Leigh and Van Dyke's plan to get him to sing their song on the Ed Sullivan show as Conrad Birdie bestows his farewell kiss on the girl selected, who is of course Ann-Margret. No wonder she was cast opposite Elvis himself a year or so later!
Nice too to see Janet in one of her few post-PSYCHO starring roles, but why the black wig? Is she meant to look like Chita Rivera who played the part initially, or Rita Moreno - is Rosie (Janet) meant to be Latino? For those who like the ersatz world of GREASE this is the real thing!, capturing that world of Sandra Dee, Troy Donahue (more on him soon) and Fabian. Bobby Rydell here is the bland love interest of sizzling Ann-M ! It did though perhaps need someone younger and more charismatic as the idol Conrad Birdie to capture that Elvis mania
Below: the kids doing the Telephone Song