TCM SPRING BREAK FILM FESTIVAL TUESDAY

Here’s the lineup for Tuesday April 17’s movies co-hosted by Ben Mankiewicz and me accompanied by my mini reviews from my book Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies.

8:00 pm Gidget

Gidget remains one of the best Hollywood surf movies of all time.  The story of a teenage tomboy who doesn’t fit in with her female friends and who just wants to surf with the guys is extremely entertaining.  It makes a sincere effort to capture the surfer culture of the time albeit toned down for movie audiences.  The film has lots of exciting surfing footage, beautiful Malibu scenery, and a wonderful cast headed by the sweet Sandra Dee as the “girl-midget” nicknamed Gidget and Cliff Robertson as the manly surf bum Kahoona.

C0-starring James Darren as Moondoggie, Joby Baker, Yvonne Craig, Jo Morrow, Doug McClure

9:45 p.m. Gidget Goes Hawaiian

Surfing takes a backseat to romance in Gidget Goes Hawaiian, an inferior sequel to Gidget.  The movie comes off as a puppy love story aimed at adolescent girls rather than a look into the surfing subculture like the original.  Gidget (now Deborah Walley)jets off for a family vacation in the Hawaiian Islands where she and her surfing sweetheart Moondoggie (James Darren) try to make each other jealous by getting romantically involved with, respectively, a handsome TV performer (Michael Callan) and a spoiled vixen (Vicki Trickett).  In an obvious ploy to pump up the box office by attracting adults to the movie as well as youths the older actors as parents hog way too much screen time.  However, the Hawaiian beach scenes, a few surfing sequences, and some of the attractive younger performers save it from being a total wipeout.

Co-starring Bart Patton, Don Edmonds, Carl Reiner, Peggy Cass

11:30 p.m. Ride the Wild Surf

Ride the Wild Surf stands head and shoulders above all the sixties beach-party movies.  Three California surfers (Fabian, Tab Hunter, Peter Brown) come to Hawaii to surf the huge waves of the North Shore and in the process mature and find romance.  It makes an honorable effort to portray surfers and the sport of surfing sincerely and to showcase the big waves of the North Shore of Hawaii.  There are no singing surfers or goofy motorcycle gang members in this film as it opens with a narrator explaining why young men from all over the world come to Hawaii to surf.  Then the wave action takes over never letting up making Ride the Wild Surf the best Hollywood surf movie of the sixties.  Kudos to a excellent cast, stunning photography by Joseph Biroc, and one of the all-time best pop surf songs “Ride the Wild Surf” sung by Jan and Dean over the closing credits.

Co-starring Shelley Fabares, Barbara Eden, Susan Hart, Jim Mitchum, Roger Davis

1:15 a.m. For Those Who Think Young

For Those Who Think Young was the second film to be released from the major studios aping AIP’s beach-party formula.  Despite his grandfather’s protestations, a rich playboy (James Darren) romantically pursues a proud but poor coed (sultry Pamela Tiffin) whose guardians work in a nightclub catering to the swinging college crowd with the action flitting from the shores of Malibu to the college campus.  The film is a perfect example of just how the majors didn’t understand what made the Frankie and Annette pictures so successful.  Instead of rock groups there are parents!  Rather than lots of beach scenes and surfing footage there is comedian Woody Woodbury!  Also note to producers: peppering the film with character actors from the 1930s does not a beach party make.

Co-starring Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Nancy Sinatra, Paul Lynde, Ellen Burstyn, Claudia Martin, Susan Hart, Ed Garner

3:00 a.m. It’s a Bikini World

It’s a Bikini World features an interesting premise, a great lineup of musical talent (The Animals, The Castaways, The Gentrys)and a spirited cast but the extremely low budget production values hamper the movie.  There’s a new beach babe (Deborah Walley) on the shore and when she rebukes the advances of the local Casanova (Tommy Kirk) 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.

Co-starring Bob Pickett, Suzie Kaye, Lori Williams

 

Comments: 4

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  • Shaun

    I think your prejudice against pre-1950s movies is showing. There was nothing inherently wrong with casting character actors from the 1930s in “For Those Who Think Young”–they just didn’t do anything interesting with them. People like Buster Keaton, Mickey Rooney, Patsy Kelly, Dorothy Lamour, and many others were in the AIP beach movies, but they were given lively things to do. As for Woody Woodbury, THAT’s another issue entirely!

     
     
     
    • As we discused I have nothing against 30s actors just don’t want the adults hogging all the screen time in my beach movies. James Darren and Pamela Tiffin take a back seat to Woody Woodbury and Paul Lynde. At least in Beach Party, it is evenly split between Bob Cummings/Dorothy Malone and Frankie/Annette.

       
  • I’m loving your introductions to TCM’s spring break films, Tom! You’re doing a great job & providing lots of interesting tidbits about the actors, films, etc. Great stuff!

     
     
     
    • Thanks Kimberly. Should have had a dye job, my hair is so gray and washed out from the lights that actually were blinding me as you can tell. LOL Some turned out better than others based on what Ben asked me. So far Girl Happy intro is the one I thought was best.

       
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