on October 6, 2005
The only extras are the trailers, but both "Beach Party" and "Bikini Beach" (which was actually the 2nd sequel to "Beach Party", following "Muscle Beach Party") are terrific fun, with decent surfing footage and lots of singing and dancing (Candy Johnson should have a license in frenetic dancing, she looks like a cyclone in fringe!). "Beach Party" has professor Bob Cummings studying the mating habits of beach teens, and inadvertently wooing Annette Funicello away from Frankie Avalon! It's a surprisingly non-slapstick comedy with beatnik overtones; the pie-fight finale is really the silliest it gets. Annette, her hair a sexy shade of cinnamon, is a natural for films like these: just a notch naughtier than her "Merlin Jones" comedies for Disney, she's forever G-rated, but it's nice to see her surrounded by surfin' kids and having a good time (her repartee with Frankie, John Ashley and all the girls is completely believable--and the director is smart to cut back to her as often as possible). "Bikini Beach" gives Avalon a dual role--and he seems to be having a ball playing Frankie and scenery-chewing British singer The Potato Bug (I could've done without his annoying maniacal laugh and broad accent). Both films look great on letterboxed DVD. Thanks MGM for a doubling the fun for the price of one.
on September 7, 2000
This first in the series of "Beach" movies made by AIP back in the 60's is my personal favorite of the lot. Bob Cummings is delightful as the bewhiskered professor studying the strange and primitive tribal rituals of the beach dwellers. Frankie is "cool" when he sings in a finger-snapping Bobby Darin kind of way. Annette is voluptuous and just as sweet as ever. Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) is hilarious as he deals with his gang (The Rats & The Mice-a bunch of stupids) and gives himself the finger.
Most important is the appearance of the King Of The Surf Guitar, Dick Dale with his Del-Tones. You want real California surfer/beach scene authenticity? Just watch the sun-tanned, earring-wearing Dale playing his left-handed, upside-down strung, reverb-drenched Fender Strat and wailing about jumpin' in his woodie and hot-doggin' on his board at his "Secret Surfin' Spot" where the "gremmies and the hodads never go". Priceless. Dated? Of course. Entertaining? You betcha! You like Dick Dale? Get this film. The fact that Frankie and Annette were hip to him moves them up a few notches on the "cool-ometer". Hooting!!
BEACH PARTY was the movie that defined a generation....the California beach scene that was the epitome of cool in the sunny 60's.
Dolores (Annette Funicello) and Frankie (Frankie Avalon) head down to the coast for a summer of swingin' and surfin', only to have their romantic getaway spoiled by Frankie's loud-mouthed friends who have decided to tag along.
When a stuffy, whiskered anthropologist (Bob Cummings - LUCKY ME) and his curvy assistant Marianne (Dorothy Malone) decide to study the teens' partying habits, they end up with more than they bargained for when Professor Sutwell becomes a pawn in Dolores' game to get Frankie jealous and propose to her!
There are fantastic cameos from Eva Six, Morey Amsterdam and even Vincent Price (in a shameless promotional grab for AIP's "The Pit and the Pendulum").
See the gorgeous Candy Johnson shake her moneymaker! Hear the delightful Annette sing the tender ballad "Treat Him Nicely", and roar with laughter at the antics of Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and his "Rats"!
Followed by numerous sequels including "Bikini Beach", "Pajama Party", "Beach Blanket Bingo", "Muscle Beach Party" and "How To Stuff a Wild Bikini".
The DVD includes both full-frame and widescreen versions of the film as well as the trailer. (Double-sided, single-layer disc).
Funny how when this series started it must have been aimed at adults as well as teens, for the central love story is the one between The Professor and Mary Anne--no, not the ones from Gilligans Island, though it's an odd coincidence isn't it--but the adult anthrolopogists played by Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone. For an Oscar winner, Malone doesn't have much to do here, but when she's prowling around the Professor's apartment alone, manning his directional signals and playing a 45 on his hifi, she goes absently sexy, swinging her hips to the music, singing along to Annette's prerecorded vocal to "Promise Me Anything, Give Me Love." Some sophisticated sound editing in this sequence produces the effect that Malone is sometimes singing on the record, her voice noticeably less processed and more "musical" than Annette's super-produced studio squeak (that we all love anyhow). I will say that neither Malone nor Annette is very well served by the makeup department, who must have shot their wad trying to make Eva Six look exactly like Marilyn Monroe in the first reel of LET'S MAKE LOVE. But poor Annette with that crazy hairdo that looks as though she'd slept all night under an anvil, while Dorothy Malone looks like her skin is the shiny pink of a china pig.
Anyhow the plot is all about the Professor trying to get tenure and finish his book about the sex lives of the surfing youth. It's pretty funny and most of the ironically dimwitted scholarly comments about the "tribe" of the surfers seem right on today. He takes Annette as his protege, but she mistakes his interest in her tribe for a personal interest, and to make Frankie jealous she reciprocates by "dating" him even though he must be twice her age or more. It's a little eerie, and Dorothy Malone calls it "Lolita love," which isn't far from the truth.
Valera Noland, as Annette's best friend Rhonda, gives her usual animated performance. Whatever happened to her? But most of all, who is the dancer (not Candy Johnson) who wears her hair tied back with a headband and a tight sweater with big green stripes who dances around Frankie during the "Don't Stop Now" number--the one who stares him down with a seductive smirk at every turn? She resembles a really, really sexy version of Jane Fonda and her dancing could make a dead man stand up straight for once. Don't you think it strange how, in the Beach Party movies, Jody McCrea plays the southern goofus "Deadhead," okay, he doesn't play him well, but to me he IS Deadhead, and then when AIP decided to make "Sergeant Deadhead," Jody must have figured this was his big break, only to discover that this time out, Frankie was playing Deadhead? What a bitter blow to the most nibble-able torso in the movies of the 1960s!
on June 2, 2006
THIS DOPEY BUT FUN MOVIE FOR BABY BOOMERS HELPED KEEP ME SMILEING AND LAUGH A LITTLE ALL THOSE YEARS AGO, WHILE I SERVED IN VIETNAM. ITS FUN TO WATCH THESE VINTAGE MOVIES TO SEE HOW SIMPLE LIFE WAS BACK THEN, AND HOW YOUNG PEOPLE NEW HOW TO HAVE FUN COMPARED TO TODAY, DO YOU AGREE???
on December 13, 2005
These aren't merely movies, they are amazing escapes to the coast. On a cold night in Feb when the snow outside refuses to melt and is covered in black exhaust, these films will make things a little sunnier. There's no real message or meaning to Frankie and Annette's life. They keep talking about getting married, but the next year they return to the beach without a ring on her finger. I enjoy the musical numbers. I just remember catching these films on Channel 38 in Boston back when AIP flicks were an indie station's staple.
The fact that they put both of these films onto one DVD makes it truly a must have.
First on the bill is the one that started the whole damn thing, Beach Party. Frankie and Annette go out to a house on the beach for vacation. Frankie is excited coz he gets Annette ALONE to do with what he pleases. This isn't the case coz Annette gets freaked out by the idea of being alone with Frankie Avalon and invites a buttload of people. You see, Annette is saving herself for marriage(what a drag, huh?). Frankie's pissed at the change of events but shifts into party mode anyhow and surfs and boogies the night away with his buddies. Surf guitar king Dick Dale is along for the ride providing a few songs. All in all he's not given much to do but wear big pirate earrings and lip synch a few tunes. He spends an awful lot of time on the bongos. Soon the jealousy game begins. Frankie hooks up with a busty blond hungarian in an attempt to get Annette jealous and...horny I guess. Also renting a house on the beach is an anthropology professor who is studying the behaviors of the teenage surf culture(he's gonna write a book comparing them to African tribes). He's also able to put people in a state of suspended animation. He befriends Annette and wants to use her to get the info he needs to talk the talk and walk the walk on the California beach. Annette may have been saving herself for marriage, but she practically gives this professor carte blanche to study her in every way possible just five minutes after meeting him!! The professor is a moral man, and continues to avoid her advances. In fact he's given so many opportunities, you might find yourself yelling at the screen after awhile, telling this schmuck to just go for it. Of course we also get the debut of Frankie's arch-nemesis, Eric Von Zipper. Von Zipper is the leader of a biker gang called The Rats and Mice. He's the typical moron villain character that always says/does the dumbest thing, gets fooled, plan backfires, gets beat up, you name it. Kind of like a live action Yosemite Sam. The climax of the film gives us a Battle Royale between Von Zipper's gang and Frankie's beach buddies. In the end, everybody becomes friends, and they dance the night away. Cool cameo from Vincent Price too.
Bikini Beach ups the zaniness a bit, but if you enjoyed Beach Party, you'll like this coz the style's the same. Frankie and Annette are back at the beach for yet another romp. Annette's still not giving up the goods(not til she's married, remember?). Almost immediately Frankie pisses her off and it's straight back to breakup/make him jealous mode. This chick obviously has alot of issues to sort out, and Frankie should really consider kicking her ass to the curb at this point. But hey, the big lug is in love. Problems arise when a newspaper publisher(played by Keenan Wynn) starts writing articles about our beach buddies, calling them juvenile delinquents and trying to get them kicked off the beach.....PERMENENTLY! He travels everywhere with his pet chimpanzee(played flawlessly and dramatically by a guy in an ape suit) who also drives his Rolls Royce. The ape's name is Clyde(sound familiar?) and his purpose is to prove that what ever activities the Delinquents do, the ape can do as well, thus proving to the world that the surfing subculture live a lifestyle on the same level as an ape. Another obstacle for Frankie is a character called "Potato Bug". Bug is a very famous mod rocker and drag racing champion from Britain. This film was made around the time of the British invasion. The Beatles' popularity and influence, as we all know, would pretty much kill surf rock's popularity. Apparently the film makers didn't think too highly of this new music from across the pond, coz the character of Potato Bug is made as annoyingly and stereotypically British as you could possibly imagine. His accent, his laugh, his teeth, his lingo; I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if this guy wasn't an influence on Mike Myers when he created Austin Powers. Potato Bug is also played by Frankie Avalon, and very well I might add. Well naturally, this is the schmuck Annette goes for. Frankie can't take this hit to his ego and challenges Potato Bug to a drag race. Don Rickles shows up as a drag race announcer and gives Frankie a few pointers coz after all, Frankie's a surfer not a racer. Also on board to make things more interesting is none other than Eric Von Zipper. He certainly wants to throw a wrench in the plans. Cool cameos from surf greats, The Pyramids, Stevie Wonder(who must be about 12 here), and Boris Karloff.
Now, of all the films I like and watch, I get the most crap from family, friends and coworkers for liking these beach party movies. No kidding, they all put me through the wringer for these. Hey, I know they're corny, I wouldn't like them if they weren't. I just like the fantasy world they exist in. I love surf music, so that's up my alley(some of the original songs for the film are pretty bad). Who wouldn't want to live in a world where it's always sunny, there's always some chick that wants to sleep with you, no one has a job, but seemingly unlimited funds, everybody's having a good time, and aside from a clumsy schmuck like Eric Von Zipper and keeping your surfboard waxed, you have no problems and nothing to worry about. Yes, I'm here to tell the world that I do enjoy these films. It's an escapist fantasy like any other. Some folks may prefer Middle Earth, Tatooine or even Detroit. I like my Swingin' California Beach.
on May 22, 2005
I have to admit that I have always loved these curious creations of the early 1960's; they being the series of "Beach Party", movies. There is something about their appealing innocence and carefree storytelling that always leave me with a smile on my face everytime. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello became top teen movie idols with this long running series of beach themed stories filmed in the early 1960's which generally involved Frankie wanting to get to know Annette a "whole lot better", than Annette was ever going to allow him to. It was always played very innocently without any of today's sex and nudity and somehow I like it better that way as the pair where such an appealing couple who made these films such fun to watch. 1963's "Beach Party", was the first in the series and it makes highly enjoyable viewing where the worries of the day are never more serious than catching the next wave on your surfboard or getting the low down on the beauty in the bikini down on the beach. "Beach Party", was a big box office success and set the highly successful formula for the following series of films that always combined romance, wacky comedy, great location work and some not so memorable but appealing songs, ensuring audiences always had a good time. These films might seem overly innocent and cute nowadays but they made huge stars of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello who developed large popular followings during the early 1960's through their teamings together.
"Beach Party", begins with one of those endlessly sunny Californian summers where Frankie (Frankie Avalon), and girlfriend Dolores (Annette Funicello) arrive on a college break to rent a beach house. Because Dolores knows that Frankie has more on is mind than just enjoying the sun she has invited the whole college gang along to spend the summer with them. Seeing his romantic plans for the summer shattered Frankie feels angry towards Dolores and begins to romance Ava (Eva Six), the very mature blonde waitress at the local hangout which is run by the mysterious "Big Daddy", (Vincent Price in a cameo role). Unbeknown to the gang however a middle aged anthropologist stuffy Prof. Robert O. Sutwell (Robert Cummings), is watching them through a telescope on the beach in order to do research for his new book which is establishing a connection between primitive tribal customs and mating habits and the behaviour of modern teenagers. Assisted by his faithful companion Marianne (Dorothy Malone) Robert records everything the teenagers do and when he decides to go out and meet the "natives", he unintentionally gets dragged into the quarrel between Frankie and Dolores. To get Frankie back for running around with the curvy Ava, Dolores starts to take an interest in the much older Robert stating mature men are of much more interest to her than younger guys with only one thing on their mind. Complication piles on complication and is not helped by the arrival at the hang out of the eccentric biker Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and his gang of "Rats", and "Mice". When Eric takes an interest in Dolores Frankie of course comes to her rescue and Robert inevitably helps out by putting Eric into a trance. Seeing Robert becoming "involved", with Dolores arouses some long hidden feelings in Marianne and when the unlikely pair talk about marriage Marianne leaves town. Dolores however realises after a dangerous palne ride with Robert who her real feelings are for and works to get the older pair back to together while letting Frankie know in no uncertain terms that she is "his girl". After a confrontation with Robert about playing around with "his girl", the two couples happily get back together with Frankie and Dolores declaring their real love for each other and Marianne finally telling her befuddled Professor about her real feelings for him at the happy fade out.
Fluffy innocent fun is what you get in "Beach party", and however simple the film may seem today it must be remembered that it struck a cord with young audiences and resulted in a number of highly successful sequels including "Muscle Beach Party", "Bikini Beach","Beach Blanket Bingo", and "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini". They all starred likeable pair Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in predictable teenage romance stories intermixed with surfing action, and pop music. Frankie and Annette in a way became the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland of their generations with their fresh looks, appealing personalities, and ability to carry a musical number. The Beach part films also had the additional interest in providing suporting roles to a number of Hollywood veterans who saw the value in involving themselves in these popular escapist outings. Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone are both great fun in their roles here and Cummings in particular as the bearded dork with the funny clothes who finds himself in "teenage land", and an emotional pawn between Frnkie and Annette's characters is a total hoot. Harvey Lembeck as the greaser Eric Von Zipper who would reappear in later beach party films is also amusing and I sometimes feel was the inspiration for the character of Fonzie in the later 70's series "Happy Days". Veteran Vincent Price also makes an amusing cameo appearance as Big Daddy who spends the whole film asleep only to wake up at the conclusion to deliver "the word" to all his followers in a funny scene where he also puts in a plug for his recent film "The Pit and the Pendulum". As with every beach party film music plays a big part in the story and Frankie Avalon sings some fun songs including the title number "Beach Party Tonight", in a jeep with Annette at the beginning. Annette also has a suitably romantic number in "Treat Him Nicely", as she bemoans the loss of Frankie's love. The pair are also backed up by the popular singing group the Deltones that also appear in the movie.
"Beach party", may be considered a relic of another era however it still makes great viewing for a nostalgic journey back to a simpler time. The advertising jingle for this movie, "The perfect Summer where the urge meets the surge", really implies more than is seen in "Beach Party". Frankie and Annette where always clean cut teenagers who were really totally innocent despite what was implied and their likeable persoanlities ensured them great success as a team in these efforts through the early 1960's. "Beach party", is highly recommended viewing for those curious about how teenagers were depicted in the 1960's on screen as they are light years away from the angst driven rebellious teenagers depicted in films of the late 1950's as personified by the likes of James Dean. Enjoy some fun in the sun with Frankie and Annette soon.
on January 20, 2016
I give this four stars not because it is a great movie. It's not very well acted. It's not that well written,. But it is fun. It was the first that started an entire genre of surfer teen flicks. It is just fun to watch. sure it's silly and dopey. That's the point. Out of all the Frankie & Annette pictures from American International, this is the best one.
on September 7, 2000
This is the movie that launched a genre. This movie introduces Frankie and Dee Dee, Bonehead/Deadhead, Candy, Animal, all the beach gang, and the one and only Eric Von Zipper. If you have seen any movie in the series you need this one, this is home plate. The video and sound quality on this DVD are incredible. This DVD also plays full screen (1.33:1 aspect ratio) on one side for people like me who hate 'letterbox' format AND it plays widesreen on the other side. I can watch it now on my little 19" TV in full screen mode and in 5 to 10 years from now when I can afford one of those 16:9 High Definition Wide Screen TV's it will play on that too, with amazing picture clarity. Now anytime on a cold dreary winter day, "nothing could be finer than the sand and surf that's out there", this movie brings sunshine and instant Summer fun. Thank You MGM!