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Watch the Birdie

Watch the Birdie (1950) starring Red Skelton, Arlene Dahl, Ann Miller

Watch the Birdie (1950) starring Red Skelton, Arlene Dahl, Ann Miller

Buy from In Watch The Birdie, Red Skelton plays his normal lovable klutz (Rusty Cammeron), who runs a camera shop with him father (also played by Red Skelton, using his Newton J. Numbskull character) — and his grandfather (also played by Red, in a variation on his San Fernando Red Character). However, between the three of them, the store is nearly bankrupt, owing over $1,100 (a large sum in 1950).

Red Skelton in Watch the Birdie
Red Skelton in Watch the Birdie

Rusty “borrows” an expensive newsreel camera, hoping to make the money by recording and selling newsreel footage.  After some near-hits, he nearly drowns trying to record the launching of a new ship, only to be rescued by lovely Lucia Corlane (Arlene Dahl) — who has the benefit of being wealthy as well.

Of course, there’s a villain in the movie (Leon Ames), who’s trying to steal money from Arlene Dahl, who uses Ann Miller to try and get between Red and Arlene — keeping them both too preoccupied to find out what he’s up to. With a little “sage” advice from Red’s grandfather, however, the lovebirds reunite, and end the movie with one of the most unique vehicle chases in cinema history!

Editorial review of  Watch the Birdie courtesy of

Red Skelton in Watch the Birdie, with Ann Miller & Arlene Dahl
Red Skelton in Watch the Birdie, with Ann Miller & Arlene Dahl

Not one, not two, but three Red Skeltons zig-zag through this madcap adventure and turn Watch the Birdie into a real treat! The crown prince of clownery flusters his way through high jinks involving three beautiful women and two suave crooks, making this story of a bumbling photographer one picture-perfect film.

Trying to raise enough money to save his camera store from foreclosure, Rusty Cameron (Skelton) rents a newsreel camera and goes hunting for a story. Encouraged by his father (also played by Skelton) and teased by his grandfather (Skelton again!), Rusty plunges forward and nearly drowns in the harbor. Rescued by a beautiful and lonely heiress (Arlene Dahl) and tempted by the gorgeous Ann Miller, Rusty lands in the middle of a villainous plot that has just the right touches of romance and pratfalls €“ with Rusty, of course, saving the girl and the day!

Trivia for  Watch the Birdie

  • When  Red Skelton  runs and jumps onto the fire  truck, it is a reenactment of a  Buster Keaton  gag from  The Cameraman
  • When Red Skelton unsuccessfully shares  an (un)dressing room with a large man, it is a reenactment of a Buster Keaton gag from The Cameraman.

Funny movie quotes from  Watch the Birdie

  • Red Skelton: [during the opening title sequence]  These are the villains; they get paid for doing bad. Me, I’m different — I’m good for nothing.
  • We had four writers on this picture; three of ’em could write, and the other was my wife’s brother.
  • These are the men who control everything: the sound, the photography, the costumes, the scenery, the makeup – they tell you what to do, and you do it. They are the bosses. In the movies they call them “technicians”; in the Army, they’re called “sergeants”.
  • The producer raved about my acting; in fact, they took him away yesterday.
  • A director has to have 3 things: imagination, showmanship, and another job in case the picture’s no good.
  • Bill Collector: I’m Whittle, from the Eagle Collection Agency.
    Rusty (Red Skelton): There must be some mistake, I don’t collect eagles.