Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

5 Essential Annette Funicello Movies (And They're Not All At The Beach)

The Playlist By Diana Drumm | The Playlist April 9, 2013 at 2:46PM

Within the few days or so, we have heard about the deaths of Roger Ebert and "Queen of Prep" Lilly Pulitzer. Following the rule of threes, we have also lost one of America’s sweethearts. Original Disney teen sensation and "Beach Party" star Annette Funicello passed away yesterday, due to complications from multiple sclerosis. Discovered at the age of 12 by Walt Disney, Funicello went on to be unarguably the most popular Mouseketeer (6,000 fan letters a week) in the newly formed “Mickey Mouse Club“ and to appear in such Disney classics as "The Shaggy Dog." By this time, Funicello was also releasing pop hits left and right, including "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," and "Pineapple Princess." After outgrowing her Mouseketeer sweater, to the notice of young boys around the country, she moved onto the series of films she is probably most famous for, the "Beach Party" movies.
2
Annette Funicello

Within the past few days or so, we have heard about the deaths of Roger Ebert and "Queen of Prep" Lilly Pulitzer. Following the rule of threes, we have also lost one of America’s sweethearts. Original Disney teen sensation and "Beach Party" star Annette Funicello passed away yesterday, due to complications from multiple sclerosis. Discovered at the age of 12 by Walt Disney, Funicello went on to be unarguably the most popular Mouseketeer (6,000 fan letters a week) in the newly formed “Mickey Mouse Club“ and to appear in such Disney classics as "The Shaggy Dog." By this time, Funicello was also releasing pop hits left and right, including "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," and "Pineapple Princess." After outgrowing her Mouseketeer sweater, to the notice of young boys around the country, she moved onto the series of films she is probably most famous for, the "Beach Party" movies. 

With the smash hit "Beach Party," Funicello and onscreen love interest Frankie Avalon became instant '60s icons and spawned a whole genre of party films that mixed sand and surf. Playing the fun-loving albeit wholesome Dee Dee, girls wanted to be her friend and boys wanted to go steady with her. In this role, Annette set the trends in America for two-piece bathing suits (eventually donning the scandalous bikini) and immovable big hair (thanks to cans and cans of hairspray). If you’re not that familiar with the films (and you should be after reading this), you may be with the parodies that poked fun at Funicello's "wholesome teenager" image, including a Princess Leia Beach Party sketch on SNL, a line in the "Grease" song "Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee" ("Keep your filthy paws off my silky draws, would you pull that crap with Annette?"), and if you look closely enough, her picture appears in both "Hairspray" movies.

After the surf craze hit its peak, Funicello and Avalon toured the country as a singing act and re-teamed onscreen for the self-parodying 1987 "Back to the Beach." Shortly after, Funicello’s health began to fail and she announced in 1992 that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Taking this in stride and with her signature can-do attitude, Funicello started the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Disorders and sought to aid the search of a cure for multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.

Whether she was your first crush as a peppy Mouseketeer or you remember her fondly as a spokeswoman for Skippy peanut butter, she will be sorely missed and will continue to be beloved as an Americana icon.

Below are the general overviews of five Annette Funicello movies that will live on....   
Babes in Toyland, Annette Funicello

"Babes in Toyland" (1961)
Every holiday season, this film can be found on some cable network and is usually shown a few too many times. Originally a box-office failure, “Babes in Toyland“ has become a Christmas classic. Beginning with a talking goose named Sylvester (clearly a hand puppet), it’s a yarn about two nursery rhyme characters who are about to get married, although the local miser tries to sabotage the impending nuptials at every turn. Annette Funicello plays the darling bride-to-be, Mary Contrary, and object of evil Barnaby's desire (played by post-Oz Ray Bolger), who goes as far to send two goons to steal her family’s sheep and get rid of her groom, Tom Piper (Tommy Sands). Musical numbers include a puzzled Annette singing in “I Can’t Do The Sum,” a duet between her and Tommy in “Just A Toy,” and Annette singing and dancing with a creepy Bolger in “Castle in Spain." While this film definitely does not gain points for female empowerment (see the songs just mentioned), it can still be fun for kids with toy soldiers coming to life, a shrinking machine and a multitude of Mother Goose characters, including Little Bo-Peep and Willie Winkie. Reportedly, this was Annette Funicello’s favorite of all her films and a must-see for any Annette fan.

Beach Party

"Beach Party" (1963)
Meant to be merely a low-budget imitation of Elvis Presley’s musical movies popular at the time, "Beach Party" took on a life of its own as the first in a wave of decade-defining beach party movies. The plot concerns a middle-aged anthropology professor (Robert Cummings) who finds his next case study at the beach - “the wild mating habits” of teenagers. His subjects include Dolores aka Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) and Frankie aka The Big Kahuna (Frankie Avalon) along with local biker gang leader Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck, who would have been pushing 40) and other surfing teenagers. After the professor knocks Von Zipper out cold, Dolores develops a crush on him that makes Frankie retaliate by flirting with a Hungarian waitress (Eva Six). Don’t worry, Dolores and Frankie end up together, the professor finds a mate (Dorothy Malone), and there are four more films in the official series, all following a similar formula. Contrary to popular belief that she was not allowed to wear a two-piece bathing suit, Funicello does wear a pink one in this film and helped bring the fashion to American shores. Tunes include the theme "Beach Party Tonight," Annette singing to herself in a mirror in “Treat Him Nicely,” and "Promise Me Anything (But Give Me Love)." Keep your eyes peeled for Vincent Price playing Big Daddy and listen for his line, "Bring me my pendulum, kiddies, I feel like swinging!"

This article is related to: Annette Funicello, Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates