Something for the Birds

Something for the Birds is a 1952 film directed by Robert Wise and starring Victor Mature and Patricia Neal.[1]

Something for the Birds
Directed byRobert Wise
Produced bySamuel G. Engel
Written byI. A. L. Diamond
Boris Ingster
Based onstories by Alvin Josephy
Joseph Petracca
Boris Ingster
StarringVictor Mature
Patricia Neal
Edmund Gwenn
CinematographyJoseph LaShelle
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
October 1952
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States


Johnnie Adams, an engraver in Washington, uses some of the invitations his firm makes to crash Washington parties. 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, 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.

When an investigating committee gets on the job, Johnnie's actual position is exposed, and he comes in for national publicity.

This 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.



The film was based on an original story by Joseph Petracca and Alvin Josephy about the romance between an environmentalist and a lobbyist. It was purchased by 20th Century Fox in October 1950 and assigned to producer Sam Engel.[2] Boris Ingster wrote the script. The original stars were Anne Baxter (environmentalist), Paul Douglas (lobbyist) and Victor Moore (admiral). However, Douglas dropped out when his contract with Fox terminated, and he was replaced by Dana Andrews.[3][4]

The film took some months to go into production. By April 1952, Baxter had dropped out and Jeanne Crain was to star. But Crain had just given birth and could not get medical clearance to make the movie so Patricia Neal was cast instead.[5][6] The male romantic lead was given to Victor Mature, who was meant to be in Farmer Takes a Wife for Fox but was reassigned. At this stage the title had been changed to Old Sailors Never Die.[7] The other lead role was given to Edmund Gwenn, who played a counterfeiter for Fox in Mister 880.[8]

I.A.L. Diamond was bought in to rewrite the script.[9]

Filming started May 1952.[10] The cast included Christian Rub, making his first film in ten years.[11]

"It's a nice script," said Neal. "I've appeared in comedies before but this is my first real comedy role."[12]


Producer Julius Blaustein liked Mature and Neal so much he bought an original story from Francis Cockerell, The Desert, to reteam them but it was never made.[13]


  2. METRO WILL FILM BASEBALL COMEDY: 'Angels in the Outfield,' Written by Priest, Bought by Studio for Spencer Tracy Vehicle By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Oct 1950: 52.
  3. FILM COUNCIL ENDS 4-DAY CONFERENCE: Plans Made at Final Session for Newsreel to Counteract Stories Damaging Industry Swanson Discussing Clothes By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 July 1951: 15.
  4. Drama: Anne Baxter to Star as Birds' Defender Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 July 1951: A6.
  5. Looking at Hollywood: Elizabeth Taylor to Play in Sea Adventure Film Hedda Hopper's Staff. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 10 Apr 1952: c2.
  6. TELEVISION OR NO, MOVIES ARE ON GO: Survey in Los Angeles Shows First-Run Theatres Doing Better Than Last Year By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1952: 20.
  7. Looking at Hollywood: Vic Mature Cast as Fast Talking Lobbyist HEDDA HOPPER'S STAFF. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 26 Apr 1952: a2.
  8. NEWS NOTES ON PEOPLE AND PICTURES By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Sep 1952: X5
  9. "Something for the Birds" at AFI
  10. FILM MEN TO FIGHT 2 G. O. P. CANDIDATES: Decrying 'Unfair' Attacks, Anti-Communists Will Oppose Their Congressional Bids By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Apr 1952: 18.
  11. Drama: Betsy Drake Will Join Husband Cary at Metro; Hlutton, Estelita Team Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 May 1952: B7.
  12. PORTRAIT OF THE LADY NAMED NEAL By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 Nov 1952: X5.
  13. Drama: Patricia Neal, Mature Will Star in 'Desert' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 May 1952: B10.
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