Beach Party movies ,Donna Loren,American International Pictures,Annette Funicello,Surf music,Beach Party movie soundtrack
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Bikini Beach

Released July 22, 1964

Available on video?  yes, currently being commercially distributed by MGM to home video market.  Available in VHS as part of the "Midnite Movie" series (now out of production, but inventory is still out there) and general MGM series DVD.

Synopsis: a pretentious local publisher/real estate developer tries to run the surfers off the beach.  The Dee Dee and Frankie relationship gets turned upside down again, this time by a British Invasion Artist, who also leads the gang to try out drag racing. 

As the popularity of the series grows, the quality of the music increases 

Here we have the series at its high water mark of box office success.  That could have led the Producers and Music Scorer to fall back on their laurels, but fortunately they don't.  AIP doubles their investment here, spending twice on this production what they spent on Beach Party.  That leads to more creative scripting, better casting and more varied locations, which allows a focus on more than just surfing and music (in this case, mid-60s drag racing).

The script here broadens the storylines and is just more fun than Muscle Beach Party was. In addition to an adult opponent (Keenan Wynn) who is more enjoyable to watch than the weightlifters and Eurotrash in the prior film, Annette’s character gets to turn the tables.  Instead of “chasing” Frankie and feeling bad about it, she gets to play the “flirt,” forcing Frankie to compete for her attention.   That gives her numerous opportunities to sing something other than a bemoaning ballad (which to this point is what she’d been pretty much limited to).  In turn, Avalon is given the opportunity to play dual characters, his “normal” surfing self and “The Potato Bug,” a long-haired British Invasion Artist.  He hams up the latter for everything it’s worth, and even gets to appear in the same musical number twice (once as each character). 


Musically, the depth and range of artists and material improves.  Donna Loren moves up to being a featured solo singer, there are some great “guest artist” musical numbers and Dee-Dee and Frankie perform the first and best of their love duets.  And most interestingly, Baxter really flexes his muscles as composer, adding a lot of jazzy background music. These are not just “copies” of the melodies of singing numbers (which is pretty much what the background music consisted of in the first two movies) but instead separate compositions specifically written to underscore the action on screen.  That sort of thing was rare in an “inexpensive” movie, showing that AIP management was satisfied enough with the success of the series to begin investment in raising their overall quality.  We also finally get a “new” guest band, the Pyramids, who get some great screen time. 

The Score of Bikini Beach

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