There is quite a difference between the original Broadway musical, which was directed by Gower Champion and the later screen version, which was directed by George Sidney.
The stage musical pivoted on the relationship between Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera.
The film version loses that emotional center by building up Ann-Margret's part.
She often seems to be squeezing Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh off the screen.
And she really wasn't young enough to play a high school girl.
She and Bobby Rydell are terribly mismatched.
Dick Van Dyke loses the unforgettable luster of his Broadway performance and, unfortunately, Janet Leigh is no Chita Rivera even though she does try.
In re-inventing the material for the screen and "the kids", the film is mostly a ham-fisted concoction that still manages some striking moments.
But for the director, George Sidney, this is quite a step down.
He also managed to ruin the film version of "Kiss Me, Kate".
The stage musical is infinitely superior.
While I missed the original production, I saw it in stock,in 1962 with George Gobel in the Paul Lynde role. I really liked it; but nothing compares to Onna White's superior staging of the musical numbers in the film. I've seen multiple stage productions since that 1962 version, and none were better than the movie, to me. It's among my top 10 favorite film musicals. It's just so much fun. George Sidney really knew how to frame a musical number. People, today, should be forced to look at his films, or Charles Walters' films to see how it's done. Nobody has a clue, today.