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The Beach Movies
The Beach Movies
   


Hollywood's first teen 'beach party' surfing film was a romantic comedy from Columbia Pictures featuring the tomboy, teenage surfer Francie Lawrence (also an 'A' student!), nicknamed 'Gidget' (for 'girl midget'), a role first played by Sandra Dee. The many sequels and spin-offs included:

Gidget (1959), with Sandra Dee as 'Gidget', James Darren as boyfriend 'Moondoggie' and Cliff Robertson as Kahuna, resident surf bum of Malibu beach
Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) with Deborah Walley as 'Gidget'
Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) with Cindy Carol as 'Gidget' and James Darren
A spin-off U.S. television series was made in 1965-66 with Sally Field as 'Gidget'
Gidget Grows Up (1969), a television movie with Karen Valentine as Gidget
Gidget Gets Married (1972), a television movie with Monie Ellis as Gidget

Gidget and Tammy
The similar 'Tammy' series of romantic comedies also started in the late fifties, starring Debbie Reynolds as the young, back-woods country girl Tammy Tarleton. These included:

Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) featuring the Oscar-nominated hit song 'Tammy'
Tammy, Tell Me True (1961) with Sandra Dee as 'Tammy' and John Gavin
Tammy and the Doctor (1963) with Sandra Dee as 'Tammy' and Peter Fonda
A spin-off U.S. television series was made in 1965-66 also starring Debbie Watson
Tammy and the Millionaire (1967) with Debbie Watson as 'Tammy'

A significant feature of most teen-targeting beach movie imitations included performances by pop artistes. Examples are Surf Party (1964) featuring singer Bobby Vinton, Wild on the Beach (1965) (aka Beach House Party) featuring Sonny and Cher in their film debut, Beach Ball (1965) starring Ed 'Kookie' Byrnes and featuring The Supremes, Ride the Wild Surf (1964) starring Fabian, Shelley Fabares, Barbara Eden and Tab Hunter, featuring The Beach Boys and The Girls on the Beach (1965) featuring pop star Lesley Gore.

American International Pictures (AIP), founded in 1956, released their first 'beach movie' in 1963 - 'Beach Party', mainly to U.S. drive-in movie theatres. It starred 24 year-old pop star Frankie Avalon and 21 year-old ex-Disney Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer Annette Funicello, Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone. Annette Funicello was still under contract to Disney, legally preventing her from wearing a bikini, and she was forced into wearing a non-revealing bathing suit. The 'beach movies' successfully combined pop music to the 'beach party' storyline theme.

The Beach Movies

The Frankie and DeeDee adventures or, as they are better known, 'The Beach Movies', were made between 1963 and 1965, featuring a group of beach-crazy surfing friends, and were set in the Malibu Beach area of California on the West Coast of America.

All five were produced by William Asher and starred Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello supported by an ever-changing cast, sprinkled with famous guest appearances and cameo roles with the backing of the 'West Coast sound' from artists like Dick Dale and The Deltones, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Surfaris, The Hondells and many other classic surf groups of the Sixties.

There were many similarly styled movies and a lot of them starred Annette Funicello, which probably gives her the title 'Queen of the Beach Movies'. Some have become cult films in their own right, but this series of five films with Frankie and DeeDee remain the definitive examples of the genre and are 'The Beach Movies'.
Four other 'almost beach movies' may, at a push, also be included in this genre:

 The Beach Movies

 
Beach Party

  Muscle Beach Party

  Bikini Beach

  How To Stuff A Wild Bikini

  Beach Blanket Bingo

Other Sixties City Film Pages

Japanese Sci-Fi, SuperGiant & Kaiju Eiga    Film Censorship   Carry On Films & TV

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Films & TV    Hammer Studios Films & History

Movie Industry & Local Cinemas
   Pop, Music & Youth Culture   Science Fiction

James Bond & Super Spies   Gerry Anderson TV & Films   Elvis Presley Films

Bill Harry's Sixties Also see Bill Harry's Sixties index page for a further list of articles about various films, actors and actresses of the Sixties provided by the creator of Mersey Beat magazine.

Pajama Party (1964) (aka The Maid and the Martian) the action moved from the beach to an indoors slumber party with roles played by old-time stars Buster Keaton, Dorothy Lamour and Elsa Lanchester. Disney star Tommy Kirk substituted for Frankie Avalon.
YouTube
Ski Party (1965) tried to inject some new characters and locations. It featured Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, Deborah Walley and a cameo by Annette Funicello.  YouTube
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) Deborah Walley and Aron Kinkaid played the lead roles, with appearances by Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff.  YouTube
Also, released, over 20 years later, was
Back to the Beach (1987) - a comedy parody of the original movies that again starred Avalon and Funicello, this time as a married couple, heading to California for a visit. It also starred a number of famous 50s and 60s TV and movie actors in cameo roles.
  YouTube


Beach Party
Beach Party 1963
American International Pictures (AIP)

Directed by: William Asher

Producer: James H. Nicholson

Screenplay:
Lou Rusoff, 101 minutes colour (Warner)

Cast: Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Morey Amsterdam, Harvey Lembeck, Eva Six, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Dick Dale and The Del Tones, Andy Romano
Jerry Brutsche, Bob Harvey, John Macchia, Alberta Nelson, Linda Rogers, David Landfield, Valora Noland, Bob Payne, Pam Colbert, Delores Wells, Johnny Fain, Meredith MacRae, John Beach
Lorrie Summers, Roger Bacon, Luree Holmes, Michael Nader, Laura Nicholson, Mickey Dora, Donna Russell, Ed Garner, Candy Johnson, Vincent Price, Duane Ament, Marlo Baers, Brent Battin
Roger Christian, Sharon Garrett, Ashlyn Martin, Bill Parker, Bill Slosky, Gary Usher, Yvette Vickers, Susan Yardley

Songs include: Beach Party, Treat Him Nicely, Promise Me Anything, Don't Stop Now, Surfin' And A-Swingin', Secret Surfin' Spot

'It's what happens when 10,000 kids meet on 5,000 beach blankets!'
Frankie sets up a moonlight beach session with DeeDee only to find that the whole crowd turns up for a party. An anthropologist who is writing a book about the tribalism and mating habits of the Californian surf-dwellers takes to spying on them for new material. The story is punctuated by ho-daddy Eric Von Zipper doing his best to c
reate havoc amongst the surfing pals.

Beach Party


Muscle Beach Party
Muscle Beach Party 1964
American International Pictures (AIP)

Directed by: William Asher

Producers: James H. Nicholson and Robert Dillon

Screenplay: Robert Dillon and William Asher, 94 minutes colour (HBO)

Cast: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Luciana Paluzzi, John Ashley, Don Rickles, Peter Turgeon, Jody McCrea, Dick Dale, Candy Johnson, Peter Lupus (as Rock Stevens), Valora Noland
Delores Wells, Donna Loren, Morey Amsterdam, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Hackett, Bob Seven, Larry Scott, Steve Merjanian, Chester Yorton, Dan Haggerty, Gene Shuey, Gordon Case
Alberta Nelson, Amadee Chabot, Duane Ament, Gary Usher, Guy Hemric, Roger Christian, Ashlyn Martin (as Laura Lynn), Luree Holmes, Lorie Summers, Darlene Lucht, Maureen O'Connor
Mike Diffenderfer, Michael Nader, Ed Garner, Charles Hasley, Mickey Dora, Johnny Fain, Bill Graham, Larry Shaw, Duane King, Charles Van Artsdalen, Linda Bent, Linda Bent (as Linda Opie)
Salli Sachse, Patricia Rane, Kathy Kessler, Mary Hughes, Linda Benson, Peter Lorre, The Del-Tones, Bill Kazmeier

Songs include: Muscle Beach Party, Happy Street, Surfers Holiday, Runnin' Wild, A Boy Needs A Girl, A Girl Needs A Boy, Muscle Bustle, My First Love

'When 10,000 biceps go around 5,000 bikinis you know what's gonna happen!'
A visiting Italian Countess gets a crush on Frankie and things get complicated when her boyfriend, the highly muscled 'Mr. Galaxy' arrives on the scene. During the film Candy Johnson introduces a new dance, the Ebb'n'Flow, and Little Stevie Wonder does a gig at Cappy's Surf Club. All's well that ends well and Frankie and DeeDee are once again happily entwined by the end of the show
.

Muscle Beach Party


Bikini Beach
Bikini Beach 1964
American International Pictures (AIP)

Directed by: William Asher

Producers: James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Screenplay: William Asher, Leo Townsend, Robert Dillon, 99 minutes colour (Embassy)

Cast: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Martha Hyer, Don Rickles, Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Candy Johnson, Danielle Aubry, Meredith MacRae, Delores Wells, Paul Smith
James Westerfield, Donna Loren, Stevie Wonder, The Pyramids, The Exciters Band, Janos Prohaska, Timothy Carey, Val Warren, Keenan Wynn, Mary Kovacs, Renie Riano
Sheila MacRae (as Sheila Stephenson), Ronnie Dayton, Alberta Nelson, Linda Rogers, John Macchia, Bob Harvey, Andy Romano, Jerry Brutsche, Allen Fife, Guy Hemric, Gary Usher
Roger Christian, Frank Alesia, Johnny Fain, Mickey Dora, Duane King, Michael Nader, Ned Wynn, Ed Garner, Bud Kemp, Jay Mullin, Luree Holmes, Darlene Lucht, Mary Hughes, Salli Sachse
Linda Benson, Nancy Long, Linda Bent, Patti Chandler, Julie O'Conner, Boris Karloff, Elizabeth Montgomery (Lady Bug voice - uncredited)

Songs include: Fingertips, Bikini Beach, Midnight Run, Because You're You, This Time It's Love, How About That, Secret Weapon, Gimme Your Love

'It's where the girls are bare-ing, the guys are dar-ing and the surf's rare-ing to go-go-go!'
A property speculator is planning to develop the haunt of the surfing buddies and they enlist the help of 'Potato Bug', an English, pop-singing drag-racer (also played by Avalon) to thwart his nasty little scheme
. This was AIP's biggest grossing film ever and included Boris Karloff in an uncredited cameo role.

Bikini Beach


How To Stuff A Wild Bikini
How To Stuff A Wild Bikini 1965
American International Pictures (AIP)

Directed by: William Asher

Producers: James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Screenplay: William Asher and Leo Townsend, 92 minutes colour (Warner)

Cast: Annette Funicello, Dwayne Hickman, Brian Donlevy, Harvey Lembeck, Beverly Adams, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Marianne Gaba, Len Lesser, Irene Tsu, Arthur Julian, Bobbie Shaw
Buster Keaton, The Kingsmen, Alberta Nelson, Andy Romano, John Macchia, Jerry Brutsche, Bob Harvey, Myrna Ross, Allen Fife, Sig Frohlich, Tom Quine, Hollis Morrison, Guy Hemric
George Boyce, Charlie Reed, Patti Chandler, Michael Nader, Salli Sachse, Luree Holmes, Marianne Gordon, Sheila MacRae (as Sheila Stephenson), Rosemary Williams, Jo Collins, Mary Hughes
Ed Garner, Tonia Van Deter, Sue Hamilton (as Sue Williams), Uta Stone, Johnny Fain, Mickey Dora, Bruce Baker, Ned Wynn, Kerry Berry, Rick Jones, Ray Atkinson, Ronnie Dayton
Linda Bent (as Linda Opie Bent), Stephanie Nader, Jeannine White, Janice Levinson, Toni Harper, Michele Barton, Victoria Carroll, Mickey Rooney, Frankie Avalon, Michele Carey
Elizabeth Montgomery, Christopher Riordan

Songs include: How To Stuff A Wild Bikini, Better Be Ready, Give Her Lovin', The Perfect Boy, After The Party

'Thrills and spills in the wildest motorcycle race ever run!'
Frankie is called up for Naval Reserve duty (n.b. he was actually busy filming 'Ski Party') and hires the services of a witch doctor to keep an eye on DeeDee while he is away. The 'motorcycle race' in the tagline is actually held on the beach itself.

How To Stuff A Wild Bikini


Beach Blanket Bingo
Beach Blanket Bingo 1965
American International Pictures (AIP)

Directed by: William Asher

Producers: James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Screenplay: William Asher and Leo Townsend, 98 minutes colour (HBO)

Cast: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Deborah Walley, Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Brian Wilson, Jody McCrea, Donna Loren, Marta Kristen, Linda Evans, Timothy Carey, Don Rickles, Paul Lynde
Donna Michelle, Michael Nader, Patti Chandler, The Hondells, Buster Keaton, Earl Wilson, Bobbie Shaw, Andy Romano, Allen Fife, Jerry Brutsche, ,John Macchia, Bob Harvey, Alberta Nelson
Myrna Ross, Ed Garner, Guy Hemric, Duane Ament, Ray Atkinson, Mickey Dora, Ned Wynn, Frank Alesia, Phil Henderson, Johnny Fain, Ronnie Dayton, Linda Benson, Mary Sturdevant
Mary Hughes, Judy Lescher, Salli Sachse, Pat Bryton, Linda Merrill, Pam Colbert, Luree Holmes, Dessica Giles, Laura Nicholson, Stephanie Nader, Linda Bent, Jo Ann Zerfas, Chris Cranston
Robert Jon Carlson, Darlene Lucht, Jackie Ward (Sugar Kane singing voice - uncredited)

Songs include: Beach Blanket Bingo, The Cycle Set, You'll Never Change Him, I Think You Think, These Are The Good Times, Fly Boy, New Love
It Only Hurts When I Cry, I Am My Ideal

'It's the game that separates the girls from the boys - in groups of two!
Deadhead loses his heart to a life-saving mermaid and Frankie is led astray by Sugar Kane, played by Linda Evans. The crowd enjoy some sky-diving into the surf and there are more than the usual number of featured songs before the traditionally happy ending. This was 26 year-old Avalon's last and major starring role in the 'beach party' films.

Beach Blanket Bingo






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