With last week’s marathon of Beach Party movies on TCM and the warmer weather finally prevailing, I thought I would share my Top 5 Beach Party musical moments (from what I can find on YouTube) to get us all in the mood for beach season.

#1 “Beach Blanket Bingo” from Beach Blanket Bingo

Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello at their best in my favorite Beach Party movie singing this title tune that excellently showcases what made the Beach Party movies so darn fun from the dancing shirtless surfers and their bikini-clad girls to the beautiful Malibu coastline to the background surfing. As a teen this movie made me want to move to California desperately. Today the catchy ditty always makes me jump to my feet and dance along. I also love when the unsung beach boys and girls get featured and here getting their do are sassy lassie Mary Hughes and the ice cream clad Mike Nader; and surfboard dancing Johnny Fain and Linda Opie plus Playboy Playmate of the Year 1964 Donna Michelle as Animal and Jody McCrea as Bonehead.

#2 “How About Us?” from How to Stuff a Wild Bikini

Sticking with my love of the unsung beach girls, this camp classic number has ad man Mickey Rooney sticking to his guns on hiring a reluctant Beverly Adams (in a hideous long red wig) despite the beach girls best efforts to change his mind. Granted it is not even close to a surf song, but I am a sucker for Marianne Gaba (taking over from Donna Michelle as Animal) leading the beach babes including Patti Chandler (orange bikini), Mary Hughes (lime bikini), Sue Hamilton (tiny blonde in yellow bikini), Salli Sachse (hair in bun in green bikini), Linda Opie (pink bikini), and Luree Holmes (white bikini with matching headband) to prove why “we’re the chicks who know all the tricks…” They sure do.

#3 “Swingin’ and A-Surfin'” from Beach Party

The King of the Surf Guitar Dick Dale with his Del-Tones really rock on this surf song classic while the kids groove to it below. Beach Party really tried to capture the surfer’s lifestyle as much as they could. That is why Dick Dale was hired to bring authentic surf music to the movie and if you notice carefully the surfers and their chicks are smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. These were no-nos for future Beach Party movies. That is Morey Amsterdam underneath the mask roaming the dance floor; Candy Johnson shimmying in the blue-tassled dress; a very young Mike Nader all in gray shaking his cute butt; and Yvette Vickers as the blonde yoga girl.

#4 “Among the Young” from Pajama Party

Pretty Donna Loren proves here why she was one of the 1960s most underated vocalists. She had such screen presence and a strong beautiful voice with a range that could easily go from singing love ballads (ala “It Only Hurts When I Cry” in Beach Blanket Bingo) to a catchy pop song like this. Here she is backed by the Nooney Rickett Four and they get the beach boys and their girls off their feet especially the stunning Susan Hart mesmorizing the boys with her sexy dance moves and shimmying blonde bouffanted Candy Johnson. My one minor complaint is that old-fashioned bathing suit Donna sports. Girl it was 1964, not 1924. Show some skin!

#5 “Don’t Stop Now” from Beach Party

Frankie Avalon really gets to cut loose on this hard rocking number backed by Dick Dale, on bongos, and His Del-Tones. Free from Annette (who sits their fuming) in this part of the movie, he gets to cozy up to a number of sexy dancing babes including Eva Six (a Zsa Zsa Gabor wannabe who opens the number) followed by 2 anonymous, even for me, blonde beach girls and then the perpetual motion machine Candy Johnson. A nice rocking treat from the usual pop ballads Frankie normally sings in the Beach Party movies. In the background you can spot Bob Cummings under the whiskers; and John Ashley and Valora Noland sitting in front.






Comments: 7

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  • “Among the Young” is a good choice for a favorite song of the Donna Loren tunes in the Beach Party films. Perhaps lesser remembered because it’s one of the few not to be released at the time on record or available on any compilation. Of course, Annette and Donna had to cover up with their respective Disney and Dr Pepper contracts!

    • Yes, Frankie, Annette, and Donna’s contracts with various record labels always prevented AIP from releasing soundtrack albums. The singers would re-record the songs for their own LPs. So most of the Frankie/Annette duets were lost to record buyers and each would remake the song as solos. Only How to Stuff a Wild Bikini came close to being a true soundtrack LP, but even that was tinkered with. Donna re-recorded all the songs from Beach Blanket Bingo and that was released by itself.

  • John Black

    There is a new CD of Donna Loren’s complete recordings for Capitol, which features 8 unreleased tracks, in addition to the complete BEACH BLANKET BINGO tracks (in mono) and some other sides. Fun liner notes, too, in which Donna mentions that she covered Spector’s “Woman In Love With You” while she was still a virgin. She also mentions that everybody assumed that she was of Hispanic descent (she’s actually Jewish).

    My favorite soundtrack performance from the Beach Party series is, unfortunately, Annette’s usually-missing solo “I’ll Never Change Him” from BEACH BLANKET BINGO. That recording has never made it to LP or CD, I believe. I prefer it to Deborah Walley’s cover version in SKI PARTY.

  • Michael H

    Here are a few others that rank high on my list.

    Best Donna Loren Solo: “It Only Hurts When I Cry”
    Best Frankie & Annette Duet: “Because You’re You”
    Best Annette Solo: “Promise Me Anything”
    Best Frankie Solo: “Don’t Stop Now”
    Best Title Song Production Number: “Pajama Party”
    Best Musical Performance By A Veteran Performer: Dorothy Lamour “In My Day We Never Did It That Way”
    Best Musical Performance By A Newcomer: Little Stevie Wonder “Clap Your Hands”

    Pretty much anything by Dick Dale and the Deltones was top notch IMO.

    • Like all of your choices. But for me Loren’s “Among the Young” edges out “It Only Hurts When I Cry” and Mickey Rooney and the Beach Girls singing “How About Us?” edges out Dorothy Lamour though I love that number too for its campiness. Totally agree with your best Frankie and Annette solos.

      Perhaps my fave number was “Lots Lots More” from Ski Party. Great song and it is shot ala Russ Meyer with the camera looking up at the twitchin’ beach girls giving them an Amazonian feel.

  • Michael H

    I always thought Donna Loren’s solos were among the best musical moments in these films. The song themselves were several cuts above the teen movie standard and she delivered powerful vocals no matter how bad her choice of swimsuit might have been. I just love her voice – period. It was never clear to me whether she had any acting talent, but I always wanted more screen time for her in those films.

    One thing that puts the Pajama Party numbers up higher on my list is the presence of Toni Basil and Terri Garr in the dance numbers. Kinda cool to realize they shared screen time with the likes of Annette Funicello and Dorothy Lamour.

    • On Pajama Party, David Winters was hired to choreograph so he brought in his own dancers including Garr, Basil, and Lori Williams. That is why this one has some of the best dance numbers of the series in my opinion. Also why we see much less of the AIP stable of beach boys and girls.

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