Bikini Beach (1964)

Laughing Gravy
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Laughing Gravy
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Joined: September 1st, 2005, 4:44 am

May 16th, 2009, 11:13 pm #1

Frankie, Annette, John Ashley, Deadhead, Candy, Animal, and the rest of those surfer guys 'n' gals (many of whom appear oddly Italian for Southern California) are back at the beach for a third summer of fun; this time they lock horns with Keenan Wynn, who wants to shut the beach down 'cause the racket the kids are making interferes with his old folks home, "Sea-Esta By the Sea". So Keenan teaches his pet chimp Clyde to surf and drag race and paint, but I'm not sure why. Martha Hyer is dating him (him Keenan, not him Chimp) and I'm not sure why of that either. Don Rickles, Little Stevie Wonder, and Boris Karloff are hanging around too, but only one of them actually sings. Oh, yeah, and Harvey Lembeck's immortal motorcycle moron Eric Von Zipper is back with his Ratz & Mice. Did I forget anything? Well, Avalon plays a dual role, including the Potato Bug, a Beatles-wanna be. He is so icky it makes you long for "Beauty School Dropout". Almost. Actually, all the songs in this are lousy, although Donna Loren acquits herself with "Love's a Secret Weapon". TWife thought this was the best of the Beach Party series and Vulnavia thought it the worst, so I'll let ya'll average it out. Keep your ears open and you'll hear director William Asher's wife (Elizabeth Montgomery) reading the newspaper.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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CliffClaven
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CliffClaven
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Joined: March 31st, 2009, 4:46 am

May 17th, 2009, 8:07 pm #2

Reflections on the beach movies:

-- Two of the funniest things in Bikini Beach: A seniors' tour bus with "Morrie's Mausoleum" as the destination, and an old lady's reference to "Barry's Nut Farm."

-- Annette, especially in Beach Party, looked older and less appealing than she did in later years, as a cute mom selling peanut butter or even as a guest on PeeWee's Playhouse.

-- Oh, and don't miss Annette's cameo in Ski Party. Between stints as the virginal teen queen she plays a cougar!

-- In the first two films at least, they seemed to assume an audience of teens and parents: explicit absence of actual sex (listen to Annette's character in Beach Party), a touch of anti-teen humor for the folks and the inclusion of middle-aged romantic couples.

-- Disney villain Keenan Wynn and what's her face in Bikini Beach? Fruity Bob Cummings and scary Dorothy Malone in Beach Party (and Annette finding Bob . . . arousing)? Mood killers for the most hormonal teens.

-- Muscle Beach Party: Don Rickles screaming "Gouge their heads!" I still try to work that into conversations.

-- Despite nearly zero coherence within each film, there's a fun sort of monster-movie continuity over the whole series, mostly centering around Von Zipper and the finger.

-- How to Stuff a Wild Bikini: For one scene,Von Zipper's gang appears in business suits -- and the two butch-looking girls are surprisingly hot as lady executives.

-- I'm glad to see troopers like Buster Keaton getting a paycheck (Keaton certainly earned his, taking better pratfalls than many of the younger actors). But Earl Wilson, very-old-school Broadway gossip columnist, playing himself as an arbiter of what's cool?
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Chandu
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Chandu
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Joined: October 19th, 2007, 7:59 pm

May 17th, 2009, 8:41 pm #3

CliffClaven wrote:Reflections on the beach movies:

-- Fruity Bob Cummings and scary Dorothy Malone in Beach Party (and Annette finding Bob . . . arousing)? Mood killers for the most hormonal teens.
This casting may have been because of the supposed viewer perception of Cummings as a ladies man, due to the role he played in his recent successful TV show, The Bob Cummings Show, 1955 - 1959. He played a bachelor ex pilot, turned photographer and was always surrounded by models who found him irresistable. This was also the show which introduced me to Joi Lansing, who was also featured as one of the models.
Not plane, nor bird, nor even frog. It's just little ol' me...
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CliffClaven
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CliffClaven
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Joined: March 31st, 2009, 4:46 am

May 18th, 2009, 2:08 am #4

For me, Cummings usually seemed to be working much too hard at light comedy -- watch him in A Night in the Tropics. I'd heard that Cummings was gay, but whimsy didn't come naturally. The result was fruity overacting. He was much better playing it straight (in both senses) in Saboteur.

Compare to Danny Kaye, who made his own almost-gay persona feel effortless -- even when storming through one of those impossible patter songs. Kaye could be way too cute, but he wasn't fruity.

Maybe it's the same deal as real-life dumb blondes trying to play dumb blondes, with their forced "comic" line readings opposite a leering Groucho Marx or other male comic. It takes special talent to PLAY dumb, or whimsical, or gay -- or even to play a non-actor (compare The Office with a genuine "reality" show).
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Frank Hale
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Frank Hale
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Joined: October 7th, 2005, 2:02 am

May 18th, 2009, 4:02 am #5

Respectfully don’t agree with you, Cliff.

Mr. Cumming’s movie career was tepid at best, but he really seemed to hit his stride in the self-deprecating, light comedy role of “The Bob Cummings Show”.

Great parade of bimbos, funny character actors, and double-entendre lines. That Bob wasn’t really the great ladies’ man he cracked himself up to be was the whole point of the series, so it would make sense that the idea was carried into the Beach Party film.

As to being “gay”, Bob went through 5 wives and fathered 7 children. You be the judge.
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CliffClaven
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CliffClaven
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Joined: March 31st, 2009, 4:46 am

May 18th, 2009, 6:18 pm #6

Not having seen the series, I defer to majority opinion on that. And perhaps he WAS Errol Flynn in real life. Still, in his comedies I always had the sense of a dramatic actor doing his darndest with something outside his very respectable range. Like the infamous television production of Man Who Came to Dinner with Orson Welles, who demonstrated that light comic farce was one of the few forms he couldn't fit to his formidable talents.

Now, let's move on to the more serious matter of why they insisted on making Annette look and sound like a matron. You can't blame it all on Walt Disney's no-navel rule.
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shelbyvinje
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shelbyvinje
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Joined: June 3rd, 2008, 12:51 pm

May 20th, 2009, 4:30 am #7

Taking advantage of this thread. I have a copy of every beach party movie ever made except for one. DAYTONA BEACH WEEKEND. Anyone know where I can get a copy? I have searched for years. (I also have ONE WAY WAHINI which could use an upgrade..)
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CliffClaven
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CliffClaven
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Joined: March 31st, 2009, 4:46 am

May 20th, 2009, 4:53 pm #8

Do you have the Fox Movie Channel? Every so often they run a couple of anti-beach movies -- 60's films about the Big Kahuna-type who turns out to be a Kept Man, social diseases contracted in the sand, etc. Not outright horrific or depressing -- just not-quite-juicy morality tales about irresponsible young people who must Learn to Grow Up, dang it.
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Frank Hale
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Frank Hale
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Joined: October 7th, 2005, 2:02 am

May 21st, 2009, 10:56 pm #9

At great personal sacrifice, I watched “Beach Party” and “Bikini Beach” this past week. What ghastly films.

I would characterize Annette as prim, rather than matronly. Don’t know how old you are, Cliff, or what your expectations are, but the early 60’s were night and day from the late 60’s. With cross-marketing considerations and the Catholic Legion of Decency still a power, it’s no surprise to me that the heroine had to be a “good” girl and that “old” couples like Cummings / Malone or Wynn / Hyer had to be trotted out. “Blow Up” and the real 60’s were still remarkably far away.

Was that Sam Arkoff who took the pie in the face in “Beach Party”?

Gravy could have fit in perfectly with that “Bikini Beach” skin-head band.
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panzer the great & terrible
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panzer the great & terrible
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Joined: September 4th, 2005, 4:52 am

May 22nd, 2009, 4:40 pm #10

It's hard for me to understand why you did such a selfless thing, Frank. We used to endure these movies because there was a horror flick on the double bill with 'em, and because they were sure to bore our date, nudge nudge, wink wink. Why Gravy loves 'em I'll never figure out -- he just seems to crave horrible things from Los Angeles. C,mon now -- does anybody else deliberately listen to Gary Lewis, Dino, Desi and/or Billy?
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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