As summer comes to a close, so does my “Gidget” series.
For three summers, I have spent a lot of time with Gidget, the surfing girl midget. Because of my love for the 1959 version and casually watching the films that followed, I decided to really delve into a film that was a catalyst for the beach film phenomenon.
Some people dismiss “Gidget” (1959) as teenage romantic fluff with cute Sandra Dee. Say what you will, but this film—and the book it was adapted from—launched the whole surfing industry. After the film was released in 1959, the Beach Boys started making records, along with the whole beach film franchise such as the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello films, to copycat films like “Surf Party” with Bobby Vinton and Jackie DeShannon.
“Gidget Goes to Rome” isn’t the best of the three Gidget feature films, but it may not be the worst?
Mike Connolly described the film as a “teenage takeoff on La Dolce Vita,” according to a Feb. 20, 1963, news brief.
In this film, we join Gidget and her friends for a third summer. Gidget (Cindy Carol) is about to go off to college and is planning a trip to Rome, Italy, with her friends — Lucy (Noreen Corcoran) and Libby (Trudi Ames). She’s trying to convince her boyfriend Moondoggie/Jeff (James Darren) and his buddies — Judge (Joby Baker) and Clay (Peter Brooks) — to come along. But before they can head abroad, Gidget’s parents need some convincing. They will only let Gidget go if she has a chaperon. Judge enlists his rich, eccentric Aunt Albertina (Jessie Royce Landis). Without her knowledge, Gidget’s father (Don Porter) writes to an old friend he met in Italy during World War II, Paolo Cellini (Cesare Danova).