Watch the Birdie (1951)

70-72 mins | Comedy | 12 January 1951

Director:

Jack Donohue

Producer:

Harry Ruskin

Cinematographer:

Paul C. Vogel

Editor:

Robert Watts

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Cameraman . Watch the Birdie is a remake of the 1928 M-G-M film The Cameraman , directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Buster Keaton (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.0752). A 5 Jun 1950 DV news item notes that Ferris Webster served as the film editor on the picture until early Jun 1950, when he accidentally shot himself in the hand and was replaced by Robert Watts, who had been the first assistant editor. A May 1950 DV news item lists Charles Lane in the cast, but he does not appear in the final film. The film contains portions from two other M-G-M films, including a clip with Lana Turner and Robert Taylor from the 1942 film Johnny Eager (see above), and another with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert from the 1940 film Boom Town (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0416). Modern sources indicate that Keaton contributed to the comedy gags in the film but did not receive a screen ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Cameraman . Watch the Birdie is a remake of the 1928 M-G-M film The Cameraman , directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Buster Keaton (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.0752). A 5 Jun 1950 DV news item notes that Ferris Webster served as the film editor on the picture until early Jun 1950, when he accidentally shot himself in the hand and was replaced by Robert Watts, who had been the first assistant editor. A May 1950 DV news item lists Charles Lane in the cast, but he does not appear in the final film. The film contains portions from two other M-G-M films, including a clip with Lana Turner and Robert Taylor from the 1942 film Johnny Eager (see above), and another with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert from the 1940 film Boom Town (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0416). Modern sources indicate that Keaton contributed to the comedy gags in the film but did not receive a screen credit. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Nov 1950.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 50
p. 10.
Daily Variety
5 May 50
p. 11.
Daily Variety
8 May 50
p. 7.
Daily Variety
12 May 50
p. 10.
Daily Variety
5 Jun 50
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Nov 50
p. 589.
New York Times
12 Dec 50
p. 46.
Variety
29 Nov 50
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
Props
Prop shop
COSTUMES
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstyles des by
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Grip
Best boy
Boom op
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Cameraman
Release Date:
12 January 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 December 1950
Production Date:
1 May--mid June 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 November 1950
Copyright Number:
LP538
Duration(in mins):
70-72
Length(in feet):
6,382
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14711
SYNOPSIS

One day a bank collection agent informs Rusty Cammeron, who runs the Cammeron and Son and Son photographic supply store with his father and grandfather, that he has only one day to pay the $1,100 he owes. Soon after, a newsreel photographer enters the store and tells Rusty he can earn quick money by selling celebrity photographs. Rusty offers to store the photographer's camera for him, then secretly borrows it and begins shooting around town. His final shot of the day is of the christening of heiress Lucia Corlane's yacht, but when he tries to capture the moment, he almost drowns and has to be rescued by Lucia. After he revives, she sees he is despondent at having ruined the $1,200 camera, and so secretly arranges for her employees to buy $2,400 dollars worth of merchandise from his shop the next day. Rusty is thrilled at his new success, but soon spends all his earnings repaying the bank collector and owner of the ruined camera. Lucia, who has invested all of her inheritance in the Lucky Vista Housing Project, asks Rusty to make a photographic record of the construction, starting with the next day's groundbreaking ceremony. At the ceremony, Rusty's ineptness causes him to record several private conversations, including one in which Lucia's manager, Grantland D. Farns, offers to pay their banker, Hugh Shanway, to refuse Lucia her final loan and therefore allow Farns's friends to buy her out at a substantial loss. Rusty also films some Shanway publicity shots of the newly crowned Miss Lucky Vista with some prize turkeys. Days later, Pop Cammeron puts the film together, and Rusty, who has fallen in love with Lucia, screens ... +


One day a bank collection agent informs Rusty Cammeron, who runs the Cammeron and Son and Son photographic supply store with his father and grandfather, that he has only one day to pay the $1,100 he owes. Soon after, a newsreel photographer enters the store and tells Rusty he can earn quick money by selling celebrity photographs. Rusty offers to store the photographer's camera for him, then secretly borrows it and begins shooting around town. His final shot of the day is of the christening of heiress Lucia Corlane's yacht, but when he tries to capture the moment, he almost drowns and has to be rescued by Lucia. After he revives, she sees he is despondent at having ruined the $1,200 camera, and so secretly arranges for her employees to buy $2,400 dollars worth of merchandise from his shop the next day. Rusty is thrilled at his new success, but soon spends all his earnings repaying the bank collector and owner of the ruined camera. Lucia, who has invested all of her inheritance in the Lucky Vista Housing Project, asks Rusty to make a photographic record of the construction, starting with the next day's groundbreaking ceremony. At the ceremony, Rusty's ineptness causes him to record several private conversations, including one in which Lucia's manager, Grantland D. Farns, offers to pay their banker, Hugh Shanway, to refuse Lucia her final loan and therefore allow Farns's friends to buy her out at a substantial loss. Rusty also films some Shanway publicity shots of the newly crowned Miss Lucky Vista with some prize turkeys. Days later, Pop Cammeron puts the film together, and Rusty, who has fallen in love with Lucia, screens it for her, Shanway and his wife, Farns and Miss Lucky Vista. The shots and soundtrack are so garbled that although the incriminating scenes are in the film, no one can hear what Farns is saying to Shanway. After the showing, Farns tries desperately to acquire the film, but Rusty insists on taking it home and fixing it. Farns then hires Miss Lucky Vista to seduce Rusty and steal the film that night, and although Rusty spurns her, Lucia catches them together and is angry. The women storm out, after which Grandpop Cammeron arrives and teaches Rusty how to attract women by showing him scenes from the movies Johnny Eager and Boom Town . The next day at Lucia's yacht, Rusty mimics the male stars's domineering attitude, causing Lucia to shove him in the water and then rescue him again, after which she forgives him. Days later, Farns steals all the cannisters in Rusty's shop but cannot find the corrected film, which Rusty is showing to Lucia at that very moment. When Farns and Shanway arrive at her office and realize she has seen the film, Shanway abducts her and Farns tries to force Rusty to give him the film. Rusty, however, beats Farns up and grabs Lucia, escaping by jumping out a second-story window onto a gigantic lumber loader. After a car chase through a plant nursery, a train and a lake, they capture Farns and Shanway, get directions from a helicopter pilot and, as Lucia accepts Rusty's marriage proposal, drive the crooks to the police station. +

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.