Beach Party
Release Date: July 14, 1963

Beach Party
Professor Robert Sutwell (Bob Cummings) sets up secret microphones, cameras and telescopes to study the primal mating rites of teenagers on the beach, and  proclaims his Sutwell Report will expose the behavior of these "primal deviants." It appears the Professor is going to outdo the master of illegal snooping FBI Director J.E. Hoover. But  soon Sutwell is exposed as a spy and finds himself  caught up in the fervor of sun, sand, surfing, bikinis and rock 'n roll.  Accept no substitute: this is the "original" beach party movie with legends Annette Funicello (Dolores) and Frankie Avalon (Frankie) kicking up sand in Malibu, California.

The sexual innuendoes and moralizing about "sex before marriage" may seem tame stuff now, but not so in the early sixties. The challenges to prevailing attitudes about morality are presented as  lighthearted parodies: the stodgy, repressed professor meets the wild young thing; the cool guys "digging chicks" quickly lose their cool to jealousy and angst; and the tough, leather-jacketed motorcycle gang members turn out to be incompetent buffoons. 

The rock 'n roll musical score includes an appearance by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones,  and a couple of solo performances by  Funicello who sings "Treat Him Nicely" ("I was such a fool to treat him so cruel.") and "Promise Me Anything."  Harvey Lembeck is perfect as Eric Von Zipper, buffoon leader of the Ratz motorcycle gang. Morey Amsterdam plays Cappy, a hip beatnik  who recites poetry ("D is for Dallas, I may not go there.....") and utters inane profundities ("Tomorrow is the day after today.") As a foil to  the adolescent innocence of the kids, Director William Asher cast voluptuous Eva Six as the older femme fatale.  Asher went on to make a many more popular beach movies and TV series including Bewitched (1964), The Dukes of Hazzard (1979), and Harper Valley P.T.A. (1981).

Copyright: Peter Fokes (2003)
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