Originally written for The
, the third "Beach Party" movie "Bikini Beach"
was reconstructed to fit the "Annette and Frankie" mold and sees another adult puzzling over these beach bum
kids and their habits – "imagine... boys and girls sleeping on the beach
side-by-side, unchaperoned. Now what kind of society is it that would allow
such a thing?" This time, it’s a millionaire with the ridiculous name of Harvey
Huntington Honeywagon III (Keenan Wynn
son of Ed Wynn
) who believes that
his pet chimpanzee named Clyde is smarter than the whole lot of them. He may
have a point as Clyde can surf, drive, and watusi. Along the way, we are
introduced to Avalon’s personal acting range as he plays not only lovable Frankie but also
Peter Royce Bentley aka “The Potato Bug” (a spoof of The Beatles and the Brits
in general) who races cars and rocks hard (at least by the standard of these
films). As you’d expect when Frankie acts a little commitment-phobic, Dee Dee
turns to "The Potato Bug" and causes a jealous Frankie to challenge him to a
drag race. It all culminates in a massive brawl (including the gang, the ape,
and the millionaire) at Big Drag’s Pit Stop (Don Rickles
' bar) and ends with a performance by Little Stevie Wonder
playing the film out.
Other tunes include Annette sweetly singing "This
Time It’s Love"
and a darling duet between Annette and Frankie in "Because
Keep your eyes open for Boris
in a brief cameo as an art dealer (a reference to Vincent Price's
commercials for Sears - "the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art").
Also, listen for Elizabeth Montgomery
(Samantha on "Bewitched
") as the
voice of Yvonne, the Lady Bug.
"Beach Blanket Bingo"
The fourth "Beach Party" film, "Beach Blanket Bingo
" marks Frankie Avalon’s final full appearance
in a "Beach Party" movie and is considered by many the pinnacle of its genre, although I think it stands as a testament to how bizarre studio execs thought teenagers were in the '60s. The
plot involves a singer named Sugar Kane (Linda
) whose manager (the incomparable Paul
) is desperate to create a buzz and the regular Frankie and Dee Dee
relationship drama ensues. Kane gets kidnapped and its up to the beach gang to save
her. Along the way, Beach Party regular Bonehead (Jody McCrea
, son of Joel
) falls in love with a mermaid (Marta
), as much sense as that makes. Oh, and did I mention there’s
skydiving? Yes, after Sugar Kane's manager organizes a skydiving stunt, Frankie
takes it up as a hobby and a jealous Dee Dee follows. Keep your eyes open for Don Rickles
silent film star Buster Keaton
include the theme "Beach Blanket
and another great duet with Annette and Frankie in "I Think
“Back to the Beach
In her last starring role, Annette Funicello plays her
onscreen '60s persona all grown-up, married to Frankie (Frankie Avalon) and
settled out in Ohio. "Back to the Beach
" brings the duo back to the surf, sand, and sun when they visit their daughter
Sandi (Lori Loughlin
- yes, that’s Rebecca
from "Full House
") who is shacked up
with an unapproved surfer boyfriend (Tommy Hinkley
). As Annette and Frankie try to make the beach fun
again rather than seedy, Frankie is challenged to prove his status as The Big
Kahuna by younger surfers and Connie
threatens his marriage to Annette. Don’t worry - true to form, his
title and the duo are safe. The film's myriad cameos include Bob Denver
(Gilligan), O.J. Simpson
, and Pee-wee
. Tunes include "Jamaica
with Annette Funicello paired with the against-type alternative rock band Fishbone
Go On Forever"
with the cast and ending the film. Although it may not be anybody's favorite beach movie in lieu of others on this list, "Back to the Beach" was a pleasant albeit nostalgic update that kept the spirit of the original "Beach Party" movies and acted a peppy introduction to the genre for a younger generation of Annette and Frankie fans.
Any fond memories of Annette Funicello from TV or the movies you'd like to share? Any personal faves that deserve a shout out? Share your thoughts below.