55 Years Ago Today…

teenagers had to choose in seeing the just opened Beach Party or Gidget Goes to Rome. The latter starred James Darren back as Moondoggie and Cindy Carol stepping in for a pregnant Deborah Walley as the new Gidget. With only a short early scene on the sand, this does not qualify as a beach movie as the previous two did and more a romantic comedy travelogue beautifully shot on location in Italy. Co-stars include Joby Baker, Peter Brooks, Noreen Corcoran, and my fave the quirky Trudi Ames. Cindy Carol is perky and fun and I preferred her in this role more than Walley. Thank you John Ashley for knocking up your wife.

More adventurous teens chose the swingin’ seaside sensation Beach Party that made co-stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello forever synonymous with the beach and started its own movie genre. They are backed by a wonderful cast that became regulars Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Valora Noland, Candy Johnson, Meredith MacRae, Delores Wells, and surf rocker Dick Dale, among many others. It was the surprise sleeper hit of 1963 and without it there would be no Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969 book.

 

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