Fans of Red Skelton will enjoy Watch the Birdie, a pleasant little comedic outing that doesn't rank among the funny man's finest. The set- up, taken from Buster Keaton's The Cameraman, is solid enough: would-be photographer accidentally films a business scam, which fact gets him involved in plot complications. But the trio of screenwriters don't really run with the idea. They use it as a springboard for comedic situations which, for the most part, just don't come off as amusingly as they should. There are some genuine laughs, though, starting off with an amusing credits sequence in which Skelton comments amusingly about the people involved. The tiny shared dressing room sequence is also good for a few guffaws, and while the end chase sequence is not as consistently funny as it should be, it does work on the whole. Skelton is in fine form, but also not at his best; even in the sequence where he plays himself, his own father and his own grandfather, which should be a no-brainer, doesn't show off his talents the way it should. The supporting cast is quite good, with Ann Miller scoring well and Arlene Dahl looking quite appealing.
Watch the Birdie is a remake of Buster Keaton's The Cameraman; in fact, Keaton served as technical advisor, though it seems that most of his advice went unheeded. Red Skelton stars as photo-shop proprietor Rusty Cameron, who dreams of becoming an ace cinematographer. This gets him mixed up with a gang of crooked land developers, headed by Grantland D. Farns (Leon Ames). Rusty's photographic aspirations also mess up his romantic life with Lucia Corlaine (Arlene Dahl), who just can't understand why Rusty spends so much time with contest winner "Miss Lucky Vista" (Ann Miller). The best scene involves Rusty Cameron's man-to-man talks with his father and grandfather -- both of whom are also played by Red Skelton. Revived material from The Cameraman includes the scene wherein Skelton shares a crackerbox dressing room with surly Dick Wessel. Watch the Birdie winds things up with a zany slapstick chase, capped by one of the most abrupt endings in motion-picture history.
All Movie Guide - Craig Butler