site last updated on 10/05/05
O.K., so they were tacky – really tacky.
O.K., so they are now hopelessly outdated.
Whatever you think of the Beach Party movies, they inarguably stand as a snapshot of a particularly unique period in American pop history. William Asher, the primary originator of the series and the director of most of these films described that “uniqueness” as the fact that “all the other movies about kids at the time were about bad kids. I wanted to make movies about good kids.” Perhaps that’s the case, but that really isn’t what made these films unique. And forget the silly scripts and tacky acting: what made these movies the classic guilty pleasures they are is the fact they were musicals.
Yes, musicals. When Beach Party was released in 1963, what made it stand out wasn’t the surfing, bikinis and boy/girl play. The Gidget series had already been there and done that. Nor was it the cornball comedy; screwball activity featuring “kids” had started with the Bowery Boys fifteen years earlier. It was the fact these had been combined with pop music.
Watch any of the Beach Party movies, and you’ll quickly notice that -- between the cartoonish scripting and silly characters -- every ten minutes or so someone is breaking out in song. Not heavily orchestrated love numbers or elegantly choreographed dance pieces, which is what movie musicals had previously been all about. Rather, the band is rocking out and everyone on the beach or in the club is immediately ‘fruggin along. It may seem silly now, but four decades ago that sort of “very-early-rock-video” was new, provocative and exciting to millions of American adolescents who sat watching it at the local bijou or drive-in.
So, get ready for some fun. For while Annette Funicello wrote "“the beach party movies aren’t often thought of in terms of their music” in her 1994 autobiography, that's about to change.
So welcome to the beach, and dive right in - there's more to the sound of these films than you ever knew!
isitors to the party since Friday, November 22, 2002
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