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Beach Party

USA 1963
produced by
Lou Rusoff, James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive) for AIP
directed by William Asher
starring Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Harvey Lembeck, Jody McCrea, John Ashley, Morey Amsterdam, Eva Six, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, Delores Wells, Valora Noland, Candy Johnson, Bob Payne, Andy Romano, Duane Ament, Yvette Vickers, Sharon Garrett, Vincent Price (cameo)
written by Lou Rusoff, music by Les Baxter, songs performed by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones

Frankie & Annette Beach Party movies

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Summer vacation, Malibu Beach: While Frankie (Frankie Avalon) tires to have a moment alone with Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) for you-know-what but she refuses to get more intimate before they are married, the 2 of them and their friends (among them Jody McCrea as Deadhead & John Ashley), surfers all, are observed by bearded antropologist Professor Sutwell (Robert Cummings), who tries to compare these teenagers' behavioural patterns to those of the aborigines in New Guinea - & he soon is impressed by Dee Dee, who stands out as a monument of virtue between her girlfriend of loose mores ... which even pisses Frankie off, who soon starts to date (& make out with) Ava (Eva Six), the Hungarian waitress of Cappy's (Morey Amsterdam) bar.

Soon incompetent biker Erich Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) & his gang arrive at Cappy's as well, to stir up some commotion, & Erich is hell-bent top make out with Dee Dee, but when Sutwell saves her from his evil clutches, Dee Dee sees the perfect opportunity to pay back Frankie's infidelity, & she agrees to help him with his research, assuming this is just a clever pick-up line.

For a while, Frankie & Dee Dee's game to make each other jealous is just a harmless tit-for-tat, but it gets somewhat out-of-hand when Sutwell saves Dee Dee from Erich Von Zipper (once again), who has broken into her bedroom, but is found by Frankie & gang, assuming quite something else when they find those 2 sitting on Dee Dee's bed together (& you can guess what).

Sutwell decides to break up with Dee Dee - whose affection he did enjoy - for good by letting her find him kissing his attractive assistant Marianne (Dorothy Malone), whom he of course always loved but never realized it until now, but that's when Dee Dee, Franky & gang find out they have only been an object for the professor's studies , & want to beat him up ... the professor, a learned man of course, can bring them to see reason & thus escape a sound beating, but that's when Erich Von Zipper & gang show upm, & everything culminates in a big barroom brawl at Cappy's place with the customary cream pies thrown in  (& around) just for good measure. Of course our surfer-heroes win & at the end, Vincent Price (who has spent the movie sitting around & sleeping under a hat obscuring his identity) wakes up & sums the film up rather incongruently "The Pit ! Give me my Pendulum, Kiddies, I feel like Swinging !" (if you haven't guessed, yes, it's an allusion to his Pit & the Pendulum, made by AIP  in 1961.)

Candy Johnson plays a girl who can knock guys off their feet (or surfboards) just by shaking her bootie.

 

This first of the Frankie & Annette-Beach Party-movies (the others are Muscle Beach Party & Bikini Beach from 1964, & Beach Blanket Bingo & How to Stuff a Wild Bikini from 1965, all directed by William Asher) pretty much set the tone for the rest of them: teen boys & girls on the beach, doing a lot of surfing (& much of it filmed in the Blue Box), amidst them Frankie trying to break down Annette's defenses, which leads to sillier & sillier plotlines, song & dance numbers interrupting the proceedings at appropriate & inappropriate moments, very unfunny comedy & some stars on AIP's payroll doing a cameo at the respective endings of the films (here it's Vincent Price, later Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre & Buster Keaton [!] would follow).

From today's point of view, these movies are of course pure camp & as such harmless & nostalgic fun ... if not exactly for the intended reasons.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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