Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

This was the first beach party I’d seen, so I wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself in for. I guess I imagined there’d be a little singing, probably a surfing contest against some snooty rich kids, and some square parents who thought all surfers were no good.

Other than the singing, I was completely off base, because instead of snobs vs. slobs and parents who just don’t understand, we had a comic relief biker gang, a sky diving story line, a pop singer named Sugar Kane, and a mermaid!

Beach Blanket Bingo is pretty close to the end of the cycle for these beach party movies and without having seen any of those others as of this writing, it’s difficult to say whether the film makers had exhausted their beach movie material or what, but you get the feeling watching the various storylines peter out at various points in the film, that they didn’t really have any solid ideas for what this movie was going to be about.

What they did know was that they were shooting some kind of beach movie, came up with a name and title song, and hired a couple of C level celebrities to fill out the cast (I don’t know, maybe back in 1965 Don Rickles and Paul Lynde were still B minus level celebrities). It was also nice to see Buster Keaton supplementing his social security check in the role of sort-of-dirty-old-man.

It’s just a regular day at the beach for the gang which means that Frankie and Annette are running around singing the theme song until the opening credits are finished. Once that bit of business is done, all of us see a plane towing a banner announcing that Sugar Kane has a new album coming out. Then Sugar Kane herself sky dives into the ocean, causing Frankie to have to go out and save her.

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It turns out to just be a publicity stunt thought up by her publicist/manager Bullets (Lynde). In fact, Sugar Kane (Dynasty‘s Linda Evans) herself didn’t do the sky diving, it was Bonnie who did it and switched places with her in the water.

Bonnie and her sometimes boyfriend Steve work at Big Drop’s sky diving business which is just down the beach apparently, because it isn’t long before the entire gang runs over there to learn how to sky dive.

Before we get to that point however, there is still the story of how Annette is jealous of Frankie for saving Sugar Kane.

Oddly enough though, the story that develops isn’t related to Frankie and Sugar, but Bonnie’s crush on Frankie and the attention he pays to her! In fact, Sugar doesn’t really figure into much of anything until very late in the movie when she’s kidnapped by the adoring Eric Von Zipper.

So somehow after Frankie rescues Sugar, Bonnie decides that she’s going to have him and Annette begins to fume. All of this eventually leads to Frankie doing some sky diving. It also leads to Annette doing some skydiving despite Frankie telling her that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, prompting Annette to remind him that women have the right to vote. Who knew that these beach party flicks could actually provide young women some good role models?

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But would Annette’s strident self-assertion of her God given right as an American to sky dive drive Frankie into the arms of Bonnie?

Well, gosh, heck no! He loves Annette and rebuffs Bonnie’s advances while they’re alone in the plane together after Annette jumps out. Bonnie is outraged by this, rips her shirt and when she lands claims that Frankie tried to have his way up there with her!

Well, I was thinking that these beach party movies were a lot more meatier than I thought as I began to have visions of Frankie going on trial for attempted rape and Annette going undercover as a hooker for some reason to root out the truth!

Instead Frankie gives Bonnie’s boyfriend a speech about how she was just throwing herself at Frankie because Steve wasn’t paying enough attention to her and that it was all just a cry for help and that he needs to show he really loves her so she doesn’t act out. I kept waiting for Frankie to start telling Bonnie “you need to get real!” a la Dr. Phil.

With that plot line suddenly resolved before it even got going the movie switches gears and introduces Lost In Space‘s Marta Kristen as the mermaid Lorelei. Lorelei rescues one of the gang named Bonehead after he wrecks on his surf board, but makes it seem like Sugar Kane did it.

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Later on, Bonehead goes back to where he was rescued and meets up with Lorelei. She reveals that she’s a mermaid, but Bonehead is in love so it doesn’t matter to him that his new girlfriend must absolutely reek of sea water and fish. Hey, his name is Bonehead. What did you expect?

Meanwhile Eric Von Zipper’s obsession with Sugar Kane is heating up. Von Zipper kidnaps Sugar from her bed and takes her to his pool hall hang out where she seems to enjoy learning how to play billiards.

But in spite of his felonious behavior, Von Zipper isn’t the real bad guy. That would be the shady pool shark named South Dakota Slim (at least that’s what it says on the back of his jacket) who kidnaps her again and takes her to his hang out which is the old abandoned saw mill.

Lots of references to stuff like The Perils Of Pauline are made as he straps her to a log and prepares to saw her up. The movie then takes an unwise detour into silent film parody (were they just kissing up to Buster?) where everyone runs around really fast and there’s cars driving around while wacky silent film music plays.

This is a movie for a certain kind of viewer (nostalgic boobs who don’t crave entertainment that strongly), but most viewers will find the lame attempts at humor (Don Rickles does get in some nice cheap shots about Frankie’s age) and the collection of half formed story ideas thrown together against a beach backdrop and padded out with a set of forgettable songs to be quite the chore to sit through.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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