Those wonderful programmers at Turner Classic Movies are giving us a marathon of beach movies tomorrow Tuesday Dec. 30 beginning at 6:30 AM EST. Click here for the entire schedule.

I am most looking forward to seeing the rarely broadcast It’s a Bikini World (1967) starring Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Suzie Kaye, Bobby Picket, and Lori Williams. Below is my critique on the movie from my book Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave,

It’s a Bikini World features an interesting premise, a great lineup of musical talent, and a spirited cast but the extremely low budget production values hamper the movie. There’s a new beach babe on the shore and when she rebukes the advances of the local Casanova he masquerades as his nerdy brother to get even with her. Meanwhile he competes against her as his real persona in a serious of athletic competitions. It was very novel in 1965 to feature in a film aimed at teenagers a determined independent-thinking heroine. This was years before the Women’s Liberation movement and this Feminist slant shows that Stephanie Rothman was a director and screenwriter ahead of her time.

Deborah Walley who by 1965 matured into a shapely young woman plays the determined Delilah with spunk and vigor while Tommy Kirk makes for a good conceited foe in their battle-of-the-sexes. However, Kirk’s Casanova persona surrounded by bikini-clad beach babes quickly turns laughable every time he takes off his shirt. He is by far one of the skinniest runts on the beach, especially compared with blonde hunk Jim Begg, and should have been mandated to pump some iron at the gym before filming began. Bob Pickett plays the Jody McCrea/Deadhead best friend role with a big grin and a droll touch. Bikini-clad Suzie Kaye now sporting blonde hair delivers some amusing lines with flair.

Stephanie Rothman keeps the pace moving briskly but lets the end competition sequences run on much too long dragging down the movie. Everything from skateboarding to camel racing is thrown in. Though bound by limited budget, she adds some surreal touches to the film. Whereas the expected gaggle of bikini-clad girls are present, Rothman throws in some unexpected titillation such as guy-girl wrestling on the beach and some boys stripping down from racing coveralls to Speedo’s for the swimming competition.

As with most of the later beach movies the musical acts make this worth while viewing. The groups all perform their own hit records. Standing out are Eric Burdon with The Animals in their post-Alan Price lineup doing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” which became an anthem for Vietnam War protestors, and garage rock band The Castaways, looking all of sixteen, singing their lone hit, “Liar, Liar.” The Gentrys, sounding like Paul Revere and the Raiders, sing “Spread It on Thick,” which should have been a big hit but it never cracked the Top 40.

It’s a Bikini World is not recommended for surfing buffs (the water is like glass and there is nary a surfer in sight) but if you are looking for something a bit different in a beach movie, check it out.

For some reason I can’t post images, so click here to see some wonderful stills at the fabulous web site Brian’s Drive-in Theatre.


Comments: 1

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  • Anonymous

    This was filmed in 1965 but not released until 1967, rather late for the beach party genre.
    Also, it was filmed in December, as evidenced by the Christmas decorations spotted in a few scenes and trees being in their “autumnal state”

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