51 Years Ago Today…

the late-in-the cycle beach movie Catalina Caper opened. Scuba diving college students led by Tommy Kirk on summer break get involved with art forgers (Sue Casey and Del Moore), Greek mobsters (Lyle Waggoner), and a stolen priceless Chinese artifact. Sticking to formula there are the bikini-clad beauties (Venita Wolf), barechested beach boys (Michael Blodgett and Brian Cutler), musical guest stars (Little Richard, Cascades, and Carol Connors), and inane comedy bits. Plus Ulla Stromstedt from the Flipper TV series hidden under an unflattering dark wig definitively lives up to the nickname “Creepy Girl” bestowed upon her by the gang at Mystery Science TheaterCatalina Caper gets credit for trying to infuse the beach-party formula with more of a plot but the execution of it coupled with adult actors who are not funny in the least makes this one of the genre’s biggest stinkers.

Cinematographer Ted V. Mikels commented in my book Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies:

“The actors were wonderful.  I had known Tommy Kirk because I shot a movie at his parent’s place for my dear friend Rafael Campos. Del Moore was a really nice man—very congenial and easy to work with. I don’t remember very much about Sue Casey but I do recall that Venita Wolf was a pretty little girl. At the end of the day, when the sun was gone and we had to retire to the hotel we’d all have dinner together. It was a very enjoyable experience for me.  I came back to Catalina a few years later to shoot The Doll Squad [starring Francine York and Anthony Eisley]”

Sue Casey did not recall much about her co-stars in Catalina Caper and jokingly remarked in my book Drive-In Dream Girls:

“Lyle Waggoner was so nice to work with and my children really liked him. But I don’t remember a thing about the young kids in this.”


Comments: 2

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  • John Black

    CATALINA CAPER airs occasionally on TCM. I’m surprised by that, because CATALINA was a Crown International release, and TCM generally doesn’t air Crown pictures. I wonder how the acquired that one?

    Now, off the subject: Although ONE WAY WAHINE was released by a very small company (I think it was United Screen Arts, the same company that released the equally obscure A SWINGIN’ SUMMER), WAHINE actually enjoyed a six week run at one of the largest downtown Seattle movie palaces back in 1965. WAHINE just happened to be the co-feature with the popular film THE PROFESSIONALS, hence its six week engagement.

    There is a slight connection between CATALINA CAPER and A SWINGIN’ SUMMER, as Carol Conners sung the title song “A Swingin Summer” for that film’s soundtrack album (replacing the Jodie Miller vocal that was heard on the actual film soundtrack).

    • Thanks for sharing. Yes, interesting why TCM keeps showing Catalina CAper. Wish they would show some pf Crown International’s biker movies.

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