Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beach Party (1963)

Cute-as-a-button Dolores (Annette Funicello) is spending the week at a beach house with shorter-than-expected Frankie (Frankie Avalon). Not sure if she can trust herself alone with him, she invites along everyone she's ever met. Immediately they spat and take turns trying to get each other jealous, Frankie with hot waitress Ava (Eva Six) and Dolores with a creepy professor (Robert Cummings) who is spying on the teens sex life. Entering the fray is the gang who couldn't think straight.

Rife with beach songs, corny jokes, and bikinis, I'm quite surprised to report that I didn't hate this movie. In fact, lose half the musical numbers, punch up some of the jokes, and you might have something here. What was supposed to be a low budget Elvis knock off movie became it's own cultural phenomenon. American International Pictures made a half dozen or so more of these quickies, many with Frankie and Annette, but some without.

Clearly I watched this out of respect for Annette. Her movies were antiques even back in my youth, but she was so likeable. I'm convinced she was the reason my mom always bought Skippy even though I was a Jiff boy. Her charisma comes through. She plays up her good-girl image here, appearing positively overdressed much of the time. She does make one appearance in a scandalous two-piece, so put rumors of modesty aside for a moment.

Surprisingly, Franking and Annette did not got top billing. Cummings and his assistant Dorothy Malone did. Cummings was an odd duck. An avid health nut, in his 40s he likely could have out-surfed green-screen Frankie. He popped vitamin pills obsessively. He lived, hearty and hale, until he was 80. But before you praise his pill-popping ways, know that he died of kidney failure.

Fun, corny, light fare. The real test is if it encourages me to watch more in the series. Time will tell. Hey, I haven't seen an Elvis movie yet ... and I still won't. AMRU 3.
"Boy, this has been some night."
"You can say that again."
"Boy, this has been some night."

No comments:

Post a Comment