for the Birds

For the Birds

This film was a vehicle for Edmund Gwenn after his success as a counterfeiter in MISTER 880 (1950). In this story, he is a party-crasher who forges invitations to important Washington, D.C. galas. Wise found him "a delightful old gentleman to work with. He was well along in his seventies and would rattle a page or two of dialogue with great ease."*

Edmund Gwenn and Patricia Neal

Patricia Neal and Edmund Gwenn

Producer Sam Engel had obtained the script for this picture long before Wise came on board. When Wise took on the project "I.A.L. Diamond was brought in to do a rewrite of the earlier drafts, and I worked with him for a few weeks. Diamond was a very good writer, with a biting sense of humor, and he brought a lot of funny scenes and lines into the script."* Later in the decade, Diamond teamed up with Billy Wilder and co-wrote such classics as SOME LIKE IT HOT and THE APARTMENT.

Patricia Neal plays a conservationist who battles Washington lobbyists in an attempt to prevent an oil company from drilling in a California condor sanctuary. These political issues, not pressing in 1952, are considerably more relevant today.

Synopsis Johnnie Adams, employed in a Washington engraving house for years, uses Postersome of the invitations his firm makes to crash Washington parties. In time, he gets to be called "Admiral," and is accepted as part of the social group. Johnnie meets Anne Richards, interested in preventing a gas company from drilling on certain west coast lands, thereby destroying the breeding grounds of some California condors. She enlists his aid, and he asks Steve Bennett, a lobbyist, for help. Bennett's company is also employed by the gas outfit. Complications arise. When an investigating committee gets on the job, Johnnie's actual position is exposed, and he comes in for national publicity. This eventually makes it possible for the bird sanctuary to be saved, and Johnnie gets his job back, with a promotion. Steve, who has had a falling out with Anne, finds himself invited to his own wedding, with Anne.

From The Motion Picture Exhibitor, October 22, 1954

Wise Facts
  • In the 1940s there were almost 100 California condors living in the wild. Today, there are 16 individuals in the wild, all of whom were bred in captivity.
  • Credits: 81 min. 20th Century-Fox; Distributed by: 20th Century-Fox;  Directed by: Robert Wise;  Produced by: Samuel G. Engel.;  Screenplay by: I. A. L. Diamond and Boris Ingster;  Edited by: Hugh S. Fowler;  Director of Photography: Joseph LaShelle.;  Music by: Sol Kaplan;  Production Design by: Lyle Wheeler & George Patrick;  Sound by: Arthur L. Kirbach & Harry M. Leonard;  Costumes by: Elois Jenssen.
    Pat Neal Cast  Victor Mature (Steve Bennett), Patricia Neal (Anne Richards), Edmund Gwenn (Johnny Adams), Larry Keating (Patterson), Gladys Hurlbut (Mrs. Rice), Hugh Sanders (Grady), Christian Rub (Leo), Wilton Graff (Taylor), Walter Baldwin (Bigelow), Archer MacDonald (Lemmer), Richard Garrick (Chandler), lan Wolfe (Foster), Russell Gaige (Winthrop), Louise Lorimer (Mrs. Winthrop), John Brown (Mr. Lund), Camillo Guercio (Duncan), Joan Miller (Mac), Madge Blake (Mrs. Chadwick), Norman Field (Judge), Sam McDaniel (Chief), Gordon Nelson (O'Malley), Emmett Vogan (Beecham), John Ayres (Congressman Walker), Charles Watts (Jessup), Rodney Bell (Announcer), Norma Varden (Congresswoman Bates), Leo Curley (Congressman Macy), John Maxwell (Congressman Craig).

    Photo Gallery
    Movie Clips
    Complete Credits


    1. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 111
    2. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 111

    © American Film Institute