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Dick Van Dyke on TCM: 4 Films from His Big-Screen Heyday

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Dick Van DykeDick Van Dyke: Turner Classic Movies will be presenting four titles from the mid-to-late 1960s, when Van Dyke briefly flirted with big-screen stardom.
  • Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be airing four titles showcasing small-screen star Dick Van Dyke, who became a big-screen attraction in the mid-1960s: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), Bye Bye Birdie (1963), The Art of Love (1965), and Fitzwilly (1967).

Dick Van Dyke on TCM: Turner Classic Movies is presenting four titles from the mid-to-late 1960s, including the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the comedy The Art of Love

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Dick Van Dyke, who will be turning 98 next Dec. 13, is Turner Classic Movies’ evening star on Oct. 23.

Best known for his television series – The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971–1974), Diagnosis: Murder (1993–2001) – Van Dyke briefly became a big-screen star in the mid-1960s, following his appearance opposite eventual Best Actress Academy Award winner Julie Andrews in Walt Disney Productions’ 1964 global mega-blockbuster Mary Poppins.

TCM will be showing four Dick Van Dyke movies released during that period: The musicals Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bye Bye Birdie, and the comedies The Art of Love and Fitzwilly.

Below is a brief overview of each title.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Loosely based on James Bond author Ian Fleming’s 1964 children’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, Ken Hughes’ big-budget musical flop Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – in which the de facto star is a flying jalopy – should be tough riding for anyone over the the age of six.

On the plus side, Dick Van Dyke’s costar is the lovely Sally Ann Howes (Dead of Night, The Admirable Crichton), who deserved a far more rewarding international big-screen career.

Ken Hughes co-wrote the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang screenplay with children’s author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Additional dialogue by Richard Maibaum (whose big-screen credits include the Bond movies Dr. No and From Russia with Love).

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

Reprising (to a degree) his Tony Award-winning role as a failed – but hopeful – songwriter, Dick Van Dyke made his movie debut opposite Oscar nominee Janet Leigh* (Psycho, 1960) in George Sidney’s late-1950s-set musical satire Bye Bye Birdie.

Jesse Pearson plays the titular rock-and-roll star Conrad Birdie – who, like Elvis Presley, has been drafted – but the one who makes Bye Bye Birdie a memorable experience is Ann-Margret, whose electrifying dancing would have duly impressed the likes of Rita Hayworth and Ann Miller.

Also featuring Bobby Rydell, eventual Oscar winner Maureen Stapleton (Reds, 1981), and the always welcome veteran Frank Albertson (Spring Is Here, Bachelor Mother) in his next-to-last movie role, Bye Bye Birdie was restored some years ago.

* In place of Broadway’s Chita Rivera.

The Art of Love (1965)

Like William Wyler and George Stevens, to name a couple of Old Hollywood veterans, Norman Jewison tried his hand at just about every movie genre and subgenre. With The Art of Love, the Fiddler on the Roof, The Cincinnati Kid, and The Hurricane filmmaker took a stab at a crimeless crime romantic comedy.

James Garner, who had previously collaborated with Jewison on the 1963 comedy The Thrill of It All, and Dick Van Dyke are two friends residing in Paris: The latter is a failed painter who, at the former’s suggestion, pretends to be dead so his artwork will increase in value.

The plot succeeds all too well. That is, for Garner’s character, as he collects not only the proceedings from the sales of the paintings but also Van Dyke’s wealthy (ex-)fiancée (Angie Dickinson).

Things go south once Garner is accused of murder. Now, will the corpse show up to save his former friend’s neck from the guillotine?

Also in The Art of Love: German import Elke Sommer; veteran Ethel Merman (Anything Goes, There’s No Business Like Show Business) as Madame Coco La Fontaine, a brothel madam; and another veteran, Fifi D’Orsay (They Had to See Paris, Going Hollywood), who can be spotted as “Fanny.”

Although also set in Paris, Emmanuel Mouret’s 2011 romantic comedy The Art of Love has no connection to the 1965 film, which was written by Carl Reiner (also seen in a supporting role), from a screen story by Richard Alan Simmons and William Sackheim.

Fitzwilly (1967)

Directed by Oscar winner Delbert Mann (Marty, 1955), the romantic comedy Fitzwilly stars Dick Van Dyke as the titular butler who, by way of assorted con jobs, prevents his elderly boss (three-time Oscar nominee Edith Evans) from realizing that she is flat broke.

New secretary Barbara Feldon – Agent 99 in Get Smart (1965–1970) – is butler Van Dyke’s romantic interest. As per online sources, Feldon’s big-screen roles had previously consisted of uncredited bits in the Doris Day comedy Caprice and the John Boorman-Lee Marvin crime drama Point Blank.

Veteran screenwriter Isobel Lennart (among whose credits is the book for Barbra Streisand’s Broadway smash Funny Girl) adapted Poyntz Tyler’s 1960 novel A Garden of Cucumbers.

Of note, Fitzwilly also features future Best Actor Oscar nominee Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, 1984) in a small role (“Oliver”).

Lastly, Fitzwilly will be followed by W.S. Van Dyke’s Personal Property, Jean Harlow’s next-to-last star vehicle. Although hardly a classic, this 1937 romantic comedy does have one laugh-out-loud sequence: Robert Taylor imitating guest Barnett Parker’s incomprehensible, posh British English at a dinner party.

Immediately below is TCM’s Dick Van Dyke movie schedule.

TCM movie schedule – Saturday, Sept. 30, EDT

8:00 PM Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Director: Ken Hughes
Cast: Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Gert Fröbe, Anna Quayle, Benny Hill, James Robertson Justice, Robert Helpmann, Heather Ripley, Adrian Hall, Barbara Windsor.
145 mins | Musical Fantasy

10:45 PM Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
Director: George Sidney
Cast: Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Maureen Stapleton, Bobby Rydell, Jesse Pearson, Paul Lynde, Mary LaRoche, Michael Evans, Robert Paige, Gregory Morton, Ed Sullivan, Frank Albertson. Uncredited: Kim Darby.
120 mins | Musical Comedy

12:45 AM The Art of Love (1965)
Director: Norman Jewison
Cast: James Garner, Dick Van Dyke, Elke Sommer, Angie Dickinson, Ethel Merman, Carl Reiner, Pierre Olaf, Miiko Taka, Roger C. Carmel, Jay Novello, Fifi D’Orsay, Nan Martin (as Nancy Martin).
99 mins | Comedy

2:30 AM Fitzwilly (1967)
Director: Delbert Mann
Cast: Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Feldon, Edith Evans, John McGiver, Harry Townes, John Fiedler, Norman Fell, Cecil Kellaway, Stephen Strimpell, Anne Seymour, Helen Kleeb, Sam Waterston.
102 mins | Romantic Comedy

4:30 AM Personal Property (1937)
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Cast: Jean Harlow, Robert Taylor, Reginald Owen, Una O’Connor, Henrietta Crosman, E.E. Clive, Cora Witherspoon, Marla Shelton.
84 mins | Romantic Comedy

“Dick Van Dyke on TCM: 4 Films from His Big-Screen Heyday” notes

Dick Van Dyke film schedule via Turner Classic Movies (website).

“Dick Van Dyke on TCM: 4 Films from His Big-Screen Heyday” last updated in October 2023.

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