Beach Party (1963)

“Bring me my pendulum, kiddies — I feel like swinging!”

Beach Party Poster

Synopsis:
An anthropology professor (Robert Cummings) spying on a group of bikini-clad teenagers decides to “gain access” to their clique by befriending a young woman (Annette Funicello) whose commitment-phobic surfer-boyfriend (Frankie Avalon) has started flirting with a busty blonde (Eva Six).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary opens his review of this “first of AIP’s successful Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello beach series” by noting that viewers of-a-certain-age watching the opening scene — with “the stars riding along, top down, singing the title song” — will “flash back to when [they] once had a crush on one of the two wholesome stars, or feel nostalgic because [they] used to watch these films at the drive-in and actually enjoy them”. With that caveat out of the way, he quickly concedes that “the picture goes downhill when nostalgia gives way to annoyance at the stupidity of the characters Avalon and Funicello play”, not to mention the fact that “all the teens in the film have IQs lower than their ages”. He argues that at least the “campy film… pokes fun at itself” — though this is small solace for the drivel one has to sit through in the meantime. Having now viewed all three of the “Beach Party” flicks recommended in Peary’s book (this one, Beach Blanket Bingo, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini), I can safely say that seeing one will suffice to give film fanatics a sense of the genre; it might as well be this inaugural entry, and then ffs can consider themselves done unless otherwise compelled.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Dick Dale and the Del Tones’ performance
    Beach Party Del Tones

Must See?
Yes, but ONLY to have seen one entry in the infamously popular “Beach Party” franchise.

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One Response to “Beach Party (1963)”

  1. Not a must, unless – for some unthinkable reason – you simply must torture yourself.

    As the first in this drive-in-fodder series, I’ve attempted a rewatch to see how it holds up. After 30 minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore. This is just plain bad, terrible, awful, with nothing that would hold the interest of most serious film fanatics. Who but those feeling nostalgic for this very specific pocket of ’60s cinema would bother with it? It’s rather embarrassing on just about every level.

    Don’t waste your time…or don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;)

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