The Birds and the Bees (1956)

94 mins | Screwball comedy | May 1956

Director:

Norman Taurog

Producer:

Paul Jones

Cinematographer:

Daniel L. Fapp

Editor:

Archie Marshek

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson

Production Companies:

Paramount Pictures Corp., Gomalco, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The George Gobel Comedy , The Gobel Story and The Lady Eve . According to Var , the production company Gomalco was owned by the film's star, George Gobel, and his partner, David P. O'Malley. The Birds and the Bees marked Gobel's feature film debut and one of only two films in which he played the lead. (For information on Gobel's other starring role, please consult the entry below for the 1958 RKO production I Married a Woman ). At the time of the film's production, Gobel, known as "Lonesome George Gobel," was a major television comedian, having starred in his own network variety show since 1954. According to a HR news item, Gobel had the highest rated show on the NBC network when The Birds and the Bees began production. According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount submitted the song "The Songs I Sing" (music by Walter Scharf, lyrics by Don Hartman) for approval for use in The Birds and the Bees , but it was not performed in the released film.
       HR news items and production charts include John Daly, Hal Rand, Jim Larrett, Torben Meyer, Joan Corbett, Arthur Lovejoy, Sally Jane Bruce, Louis Sorrano, Helen Spring, John Marshall, Jack Peconic, George Peconic, Woody Strode, Carleton Young, Francis Sanford, Mike Winkleman, Caroline Craig and Mary Ellen Gleason in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Birds and the Bees opened with a series of invitational ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The George Gobel Comedy , The Gobel Story and The Lady Eve . According to Var , the production company Gomalco was owned by the film's star, George Gobel, and his partner, David P. O'Malley. The Birds and the Bees marked Gobel's feature film debut and one of only two films in which he played the lead. (For information on Gobel's other starring role, please consult the entry below for the 1958 RKO production I Married a Woman ). At the time of the film's production, Gobel, known as "Lonesome George Gobel," was a major television comedian, having starred in his own network variety show since 1954. According to a HR news item, Gobel had the highest rated show on the NBC network when The Birds and the Bees began production. According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount submitted the song "The Songs I Sing" (music by Walter Scharf, lyrics by Don Hartman) for approval for use in The Birds and the Bees , but it was not performed in the released film.
       HR news items and production charts include John Daly, Hal Rand, Jim Larrett, Torben Meyer, Joan Corbett, Arthur Lovejoy, Sally Jane Bruce, Louis Sorrano, Helen Spring, John Marshall, Jack Peconic, George Peconic, Woody Strode, Carleton Young, Francis Sanford, Mike Winkleman, Caroline Craig and Mary Ellen Gleason in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Birds and the Bees opened with a series of invitational premieres in thirty-two key cities throughout the country on 20 Mar 1956, according to HR . The film is a remake of the 1941 Paramount film The Lady Eve , which starred Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck under the direction of Preston Sturges (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Sturges, who wrote the screenplay for The Lady Eve , is credited as co-author of the screenplay of The Birds and the Bees , though, according to modern sources, he had no direct participation in the 1956 film. Both films were produced by Paul Jones. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Mar 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 55
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 55
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 55
p. 12, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 55
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 55
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 55
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 55
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 55
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 55
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 55
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
23 Jul 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 1955.
---
Motion Picture Daily
27 Mar 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 Mar 56
p. 841.
New York Times
23 Apr 56
p. 22.
Variety
28 Mar 56
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Kenneth Washington
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
Tech adv
Tech adv
Dial supv
Scr supv
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Birds and the Bees" and "La Parisienne," music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack David.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Lady Eve
Release Date:
May 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 April 1956
Production Date:
mid July--mid September 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Gomalco, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 April 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6408
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
94
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17779
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Having just completed a three-year scientific expedition into the Belgian Congo to locate a rare snake, George "Hotsy" Hamilton II, an ophiologist and heir to the Hamilton meat-packing fortune, and Marty Kennedy, his valet, guardian and best friend, head home to Bridgewood, Connecticut. Aboard the luxury cruise ship, S.S. Southern Queen , the highly eligible George attracts the unsolicited attentions of numerous single women, especially Jean Harris, a beautiful cardsharp who is traveling with her con-artist father, Patrick Henry "Handsome Harry" Harris, and his partner, Gerald. After intentionally tripping the clumsy heir and causing him to break the heel of her shoe, Jean soon has George alone in her suite, where the bumbling scientist is little match for her feminine wiles. Despite her original intent to swindle George out of a small fortune, Jean finds herself falling in love with the innocent heir, and she tells her father that she intends to marry George and go straight. Harry insists on winning back his losses from an earlier bridge game with George, but in Jean's absence, he instead swindles his future son-in-law out of $32,000. That night, George proposes to Jean, but before she can confess her criminal past, Marty informs the ophiologist that the Harrises are well-known con-artists. The heartbroken George then breaks his engagement to Jean, pretending that he had known the truth about the thieves all along and was only amusing himself with her. Adding insult to injury, Harry accidentally drops the $32,000 check into George's hands as the ship docks, and George proceeds to tear it up in front of the helpless thieves. Later, at a New England racetrack, the Harrises run ... +


Having just completed a three-year scientific expedition into the Belgian Congo to locate a rare snake, George "Hotsy" Hamilton II, an ophiologist and heir to the Hamilton meat-packing fortune, and Marty Kennedy, his valet, guardian and best friend, head home to Bridgewood, Connecticut. Aboard the luxury cruise ship, S.S. Southern Queen , the highly eligible George attracts the unsolicited attentions of numerous single women, especially Jean Harris, a beautiful cardsharp who is traveling with her con-artist father, Patrick Henry "Handsome Harry" Harris, and his partner, Gerald. After intentionally tripping the clumsy heir and causing him to break the heel of her shoe, Jean soon has George alone in her suite, where the bumbling scientist is little match for her feminine wiles. Despite her original intent to swindle George out of a small fortune, Jean finds herself falling in love with the innocent heir, and she tells her father that she intends to marry George and go straight. Harry insists on winning back his losses from an earlier bridge game with George, but in Jean's absence, he instead swindles his future son-in-law out of $32,000. That night, George proposes to Jean, but before she can confess her criminal past, Marty informs the ophiologist that the Harrises are well-known con-artists. The heartbroken George then breaks his engagement to Jean, pretending that he had known the truth about the thieves all along and was only amusing himself with her. Adding insult to injury, Harry accidentally drops the $32,000 check into George's hands as the ship docks, and George proceeds to tear it up in front of the helpless thieves. Later, at a New England racetrack, the Harrises run into their old friend and fellow con-artist, Frenchie, who tells them that he is now using the name "Jacques Duc de Montaigne" in order to swindle the snobbish upper classes in his new home of Bridgewood. Seeing a chance to even the score with George, Jean pretends to be Frenchie's cousin, the countess Louise. Horace Hamilton, George's domineering father, immediately holds a party in honor of the visiting French royalty, and although Marty recognizes the Harrises, George is completely taken in, arguing that the resemblance between Jean and Louise is too obvious to be anything but a coincidence. Later, Harry tells George that the couple he met on the ocean liner are the "black sheep" of his family, and he pleads with George to keep secret the existence of his crooked brother and niece. Once again, George falls for Jean's charms, and the two are quickly married. On their wedding night, however, Jean tells George fanciful stories of her numerous love affairs and children, only to have Marty arrive and expose the entire charade. A shattered George then leaves his new bride, telling Marty that he wants to return to Africa. Realizing that the innocent George had previously lied about his playboy lifestyle, Jean confesses to Harry that she is still in love with her husband. Back aboard the S.S. Southern Queen , George is once again tripped by Jean, and though he still loves her, tells her that he is now married. Jean informs him that she is recently married as well. As they enter his stateroom, George proclaims that he knew "it was the same girl all the time." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.