Reasons the Frankie and Annette Beach movies are worth watching.
When I was 12 and 13, my local TV station got the rights to all the 1960s Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello films. With titles like Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, they are generally seen as tacky and silly. However, here are some reasons to check them out.
- •Buster KeatonSome consider Buster Keaton the greatest silent comedian and most talented film director of the 1920s. Some may find it sad to see him reduced to acting in teenage beach movies at the end of his life, but Buster still gives it everything he's got, and he still can take a fall.
- •Bobbi ShawBobbi Shaw was teamed with Buster but also appeared on her own. Bobbi was also in the related Ski Party film. While her roles were not sophisticated or politically correct by today's standards, she is memorable.
- •Harvey LembeckAs Eric Von Zipper, the leader of a comically incompetent biker gang, Lembeck is astonishing to watch. A talented character actor who was in Stalag 17, he hams his way through every film with total commitment.
- •Guest StarsAmerican International stuck a lot of memorable comedians and actors into supporting or surprise guest roles. Don Rickles, Paul Lynde, Buddy Hackett, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and many others made memorable appearances.
- •MusicWhile this is the type of tame, boring, safe music for white people that made the British Invasion so easy, there are some very catchy songs and talented singers. African American singers are never part of the gang but guest acts, but someone had an eye for talent because Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and the Supremes made strong appearances.
- •Frankie and AnnetteAs corny as the rep for these movies is, there's something sweet about the predictable plot lines and G-rated humor. Sure, you sometimes suspect this is the America some folks want to take back for lots of bad reasons, but it is mostly a lot of innocent, reliable good fun. The main stars are attractive and likable and were veteran actors with years of Disney experience at a young age. They give reliable, fun performances, and even make fun of themselves as they get too old for the roles.