It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals. In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals. This week’s musical: Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) – Musical #277
American International Pictures
Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Deborah Walley, Linda Evans, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Michael Nader, Donna Loren, Paul Lynde, Buster Keaton, Don Rickles, Marta Kristen, Donna Michelle, Bobbi Shaw, Mary Hughes, Linda Bent, Salli Sachse, Patti Chandler, Timothy Carey
Themselves: Earl Wilson, The Hondells
Singer Sugar Kane (Evans) sky dives on to the beach for a publicity stunt — via her a stunt double Bonnie (Walley) — the female surfers worry that their boyfriends are paying too much attention to her. Dee Dee (Funicello) is especially concerned about Frankie (Avalon), who suddenly is interested in sky diving. When Frankie starts jumping, Dee Dee proves that girls can skydive too. Skydive instructor Bonnie also has a crush on Frankie, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Steve (Ashley). Meanwhile, biker gang leader Eric Von Zipper (Lembeck) decides he adores Sugar Kane and Bonehead (McCrea) falls in love with a mysterious, beautiful woman of the sea.
It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals. In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Pajama Party (1964) – Musical #318
American International Pictures
Starring: Annette Funicello, Tommy Kirk, Elsa Lanchester, Jody McCrea, Harvey Lembeck, Jessie White, Buster Keaton, Bobbi Shaw, Donna Loren, Candy Johnson, Ben Lessy, Susan Hart, Luree Holmes, Cheryl Sweeten, Michael Nadar, Kerry Kollmar, Joi Holmes
Plot: Connie (Funicello) is frustrated because her boyfriend Big Lunk (McCrea) is more concerned with athletics than her. When Gogo/George the Martian (Kirk) visits Earth to help with an invasion from Mars, he falls in love with Connie. In the meantime, J. Sinister Hulk (White) wants to rob Big Lunk’s rich Aunt Wendy (Lanchester), and Eric Von Zipper (Lembeck) and his gang have beef with Big Lunk.
Until a few weeks ago, I never had watched an episode of the TV version of “Gidget” (1965-66) starring Sally Field. But as I kicked off my third summer of surfing through the “Gidget” franchise, I bought the series and took the plunge—and then I binge watched all 32 episodes for two weeks until I finished.
As I have mentioned before, my favorite Gidget in the films is Sandra Dee, who originated the role. At second place was Karen Valentine, who played Gidget in a TV film “Gidget Grows Up” (1969). However, I have to admit that Sally Field may nudge Valentine from that spot.
Frances “Gidget” Lawrence’s life story undergoes several adjustments throughout the duration of the Gidget series (1959-1986). In 1959, we start off with a shy, smart, innocent only child of two parents. Once she finds love in Hawaii (1961) and Rome (1963), Gidget gets less naïve and more precocious.
The anti-authority, anti-capitalism, anti-war and free-love movements brought a shift in popular culture.
The surf culture that erupted after Fredrick Kohner’s book “Gidget” hit the shelves was starting to fade with dissatisfaction of establishment. This caused a shift in pop culture, and films and music focused more on social movements and issues rather than wanting to hold hands or surf the USA. There no longer was a place for Technicolor fluff films focusing on beach parties, surfing and wahinis in wild bikinis.
So how does Frances “Gidget” Lawrence, the surfing “girl midget” who first appeared in 1957, fit in a changing world?
She goes to work at the United Nations.
Gidget (Karen Valentine) and her friends Diana (Susan Batson) and Minnie (Helen Funai) become United Nations guides. (Comet Over Hollywood screencap)
After three feature “Gidget” films and a 1965 television show that lasted one season, the 1969 television film “Gidget Grows Up” places Gidget in New York City. She’s ready to change the world at the United Nations (UN), which she describes as “one of humanity’s noblest achievements.”
It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical: “Beach Ball” –Musical #517
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Lennie Weinrib
Starring: Chris Noel, Edd Byrnes, Aron Kincaid, James Wellman, Robert Logan, Mikki Jamison, Don Edmonds, Brenda Benet, Gail Gilmore, Anna Lavele Themselves: The Four Seasons, The Supremes, The Righteous Brothers, The Hondells, The Walker Brothers, The Nashville Teens
Plot: The band the Wigglers is trying to keep their instruments from being repossessed. In order to pay for them, Dick (Byrnes) tries to get an ethnic music studies grant from the college he dropped out of from grant committee member Susan (Noel). When Susan finds out she has been had, she tears up the check. But then feeling some remorse, Susan and the other pretty committee members shed their studious looks, going undercover as pretty beach bunnies to help them get the grant.
The “Wigglers” can’t afford their instruments and are trying to earn money to keep them.
-Chris Noel’s first starring role.
-Chris Noel said she did not care for Edd Byrnes because he was “egotistical” and kept putting his tongue in her mouth during the kissing scenes, which she didn’t care for, according to the book “Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema” by Tom Lisanti.
-Come to the Beach Ball with Me performed by the Supremes
-Surfer Boy performed by the Supremes -Dawn (Go Away) performed by the Four Seasons
-Baby, What You Want Me to Do performed by The Righteous Brothers
With the success of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach films, other studios tried to follow American International Pictures’ lead and make similar teenage beach movies. Paramount Pictures’ attempt is “Beach Ball,” which is one of the better carbon copy beach films. It’s very similar to “Beach Blanket Bingo,” complete with car racing, sky diving, musical acts and surfing. However, what sets “Beach Ball” apart from any of the other beach films is it’s fantastic music line-up which includes Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Righteous Brothers and The Supremes. While The Supremes sing the title song for “Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine,” this is their only beach film appearance. All of the beach films are pretty silly and a little tiresome at times, but they somehow are charming and suck you in. If you are looking for beach films outside of the American International Pictures films, give “Beach Ball” a try. It’s not award winning, but you will definitely hear some great music.