Everything’s going wrong for Rusty Cammeron, a photographer who owns a shop with his pop and grandpop. Rusty owes over $1,000, then loses a camera worth at least that much after borrowing it from another man who suggested Rusty try to take candid pictures of the rich and famous.
One of the latter is Lucia Corlane, an heiress with a yacht. She is being swindled by her estate’s manager, Grantland Farns, and a banker named Shanway, who have business interests in the Lucky Vista housing subdivision.
Rusty is asked by Lucia to take pictures of glamorous Miss Lucky Vista for publicity purposes. He ends up in a compromising position with her, making Lucia angry, unaware that the gentlemen betraying her have paid Miss Lucky Vista to seduce the photographer. Rusty has incriminating photos they want back, but the bad guys underestimate him, and Lucia ends up marrying him.
Watch the Redhead
Only Red’s many fans will enjoy “Watch the Birdie,” one of Red Skelton’s weaker movie comedies. “The Yellow Cab Man,” released the same year (1950) is much better. To see classic Skelton, check out “A Southern Yankee,” his most critically acclaimed feature, containing the famous scene of Red carrying a flag with bars and stars on one side and stars and stripes on the other so neither the Yankees or the Rebels will fire at him. Any of the “Whistling” pictures Red made during World War II are worth a look, in particular “Whistling in Brooklyn.” All three have the added attraction of featuring one of the funniest men in the movies, Rags Ragland, who left us much too soon.
“Watch the Birdie” does contain some funny routines and several humorous situations, such as the wild chase at the end with Red and Arlene Dahl atop one of the craziest contraptions imaginable–a huge lumber lift vehicle. But much of the comedy is forced and some of it falls flat, especially the scene at the doctor’s that takes place in a crowded dressing room. There are some hilarious lines delivered by Red with his usual skill, yet many are shopworn and stale.
Though Red was a master of mimicry and impersonation, his portrayal of his own father and grandfather fails to gel with the story being told. The father character is just not funny. The grandfather ploy works much better, being presented as an octogenarian playboy with a young thing wrapped around him.
Believe it or not, the funniest part of the movie is the opening credits. Red reads the names, making clever comments, such as: “These two girls fought over me. Ann Miller wanted me to marry Arlene Dahl and Arlene Dahl wanted me to marry Ann Miller.” “We had four writers on this picture. Three could write. The other one was my wife’s brother.
The story has Red an unsuccessful operator of a camera shop owned by his father. While trying to make money to pay his bills and save his business by doing freelance filming on a boat, he is accidentally knocked overboard by heiress Lucia Corlane (Arlene Dahl). In attempting to make amends, she and Red fall for each other. Miss Corlane is determined to save Red’s little shop providing him enough business to pay his debts. In the process, Red uncovers a plot by Miss Corlane’s business manager, Grantland D. Farns (Leon Ames), and his unscrupulous accomplices to steal Corlane’s money through manipulating a housing project of hers that is under construction. To aid Red, Corlane assigns him the task of taking pictures to promote the housing venture. Red unknowingly shoots film that contains incriminating evidence against Farns. Farns and his partners in crime are determined to snatch the film before it reaches the district attorney’s office.
Though not one of his best films, “Watch the Birdie” has enough humor and slapstick to keep fans entertained. It is always a delight to watch a truly funny man on the big screen. Red was adept at both physical and oral humor. If Red can’t make you laugh, it’s doubtful that anybody can.
Nobody makes ham and eggs like Red Skelton!
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
17 April 2011
Remake of Buster Keaton’s 1928 success “The Cameraman” features Red Skelton at his most amiable, playing a salesman in his family’s camera store (Cammeron & Son & Son) who helps the heiress of a major construction company thwart her crooked partner, who’s planning on driving her out of business. The plot isn’t taken at all seriously; instead, the film is comprised mainly of comic vignettes, some hilarious, with Skelton also playing his own father and wily grandfather. Gets off to a wonderful start, but loses steam along the way despite slapstick climax. The cramped dressing room bit has hardly any relation to the story yet remains a laugh-out-loud highlight, and Ann Miller is a hoot as a beauty contest winner who’s always getting slugged. Skelton has some wonderful scenes, double takes, and pratfalls–and, as usual, he’s quietly charming while attempting to win over the girl of his dreams. **1/2 from ****
Author: stephaneloiosh from Australia
18 July 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Red Skelton stars in three roles here as members of the Cammeron family, who operate a camera shop. The fun begins when young Rusty Cammeron is hired to film the groundbreaking ceremony of Lucky Vista, a new land development. In doing so, he accidentally captures on film the scheming of some crooked land developers. The best moments come from Skelton’s slapstick humor. I also enjoyed his narration of the credits, and the lovely Ann Miller (as Miss Lucky Vista) posing seductively amid a flock of escaped turkeys! This remake of a Buster Keaton classic (The Cameraman) is diverting, if not terribly memorable. Recommended for fans of Skelton. Ann Miller fans won’t find her tapping up a storm here, but she’s pleasant in her role and shows off those famous legs.
Very enjoyable but not really a remake of “The Cameraman”
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
7 December 2013
According to IMDb, “Watch the Birdie” is a remake of the old Buster Keaton film “The Cameraman”. While the newer film did borrow a few bits, the plot is so different that I wouldn’t consider it a remake at all. This is great, because I hate remakes and both films are a lot of fun.
Red Skelton plays Rusty Cammeron–a nice schnook who works at his family’s camera store. Like “The Cameraman”, Rusty decides to make money by taking newsreel shots and selling them for bit bucks–exactly like in the Keaton film. However, this portion of the film doesn’t last long at all and in the process he ends up meeting Lucia Corlane (Arlene Dahl) and he is instantly smitten. However, she’s rich and successful and he’s just a bit of an idiot–a very nice and likable idiot, nevertheless.
While working for Lucia, he’s filming the groundbreaking on her company’s big housing project. However, unintentionally, he films her trusted adviser making an underhanded deal to destroy the company! When Rusty and Lucia discover this, they rush to the police with the film–with the baddies in hot pursuit.
As I watched this film, I was surprised by my wife’s reaction. She just thought Red was cute and very, very likable. In fact, she liked him so much, she was willing to forgive the few missteps the film took (such as having Lucia TELL the baddies that she’s on her way to the police….who is THAT dumb?!?!). I would agree but do think the high-speed (or not so high-speed) chase did go on a bit long and because of this, I give the film a still respectable 7. Pleasant and worth seeing.
By the way, when everyone is viewing the film Rusty took from the roof of his truck, the camera angle is all wrong–like it was filmed about 5 feet lower. I am surprised they didn’t notice this discrepancy. Also, make sure you watch all the movie–even the opening credits. It’s rather funny listening to Skelton walking about the cast and crew as the credits roll.