Beach Party (1963) What’s wrong with a beach romp in color that contains some tanned, carefree youngsters, their musical hi-jinks and their light-hearted involvement with a snoopy anthropologist and his loving assistant? Obviously, not a sun-baked thing. September 26, 1963 The New York Times review.
‘Beach Party’: Musical Opens Here and in Brooklyn
Published: September 26, 1963
DOOM-DADDLE, doom-daddle, doom-daddle. That’s the swingin’ beat, the dialogue flavor and just about the sum and substance of “Beach Party.” American International floated it in yesterday at the Palace and the Fabian Fox in Brooklyn. Aboard are a group of teen-age singing idols, headed by Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Hanging on for dear life are two old fogeys named Bob Cummings and Dorothy Malone, Landlubbers, look out!
What’s wrong with a beach romp in color that contains some tanned, carefree youngsters, their musical hi-jinks and their light-hearted involvement with a snoopy anthropologist and his loving assistant? Obviously, not a sun-baked thing. The early scenes are downright yummy, shot on a magnificent strip of California shoreline, where the lads and their girls are “Surfin’ and a-Swingin'” — a typical tune and rock’n’ roll’s New Look these days, we’re told. It’s harmless, eye-filling and disarming. Okay.
Enter now Mr. Cummings, as a sniggering, wide-eyed sex researcher — and, man, talk about a square! This cat’s a rectangle. And the whole picture tilts, with knowing archness, to project a contrived romantic mix-up involving some strategic petting.
The real trouble is that almost the entire cast emerges as the dullest bunch ever, with the old folks even sillier than the kids—a nice looking lot, too. We suspect that the youngsters in the audience may find it all pretty laughable. In any case, the co-producers, James H. Nicholson and Lou Rusoff, have kept the proceedings flat, contrived and neatly and serenely suggestive.
The tunes rock and roll out with resonance, thanks to the warbling of Mr. Avalon, Miss Funicello and John Ashley. One of them—”Treat Him Nicely”—sweetly mewed by Miss Funicello, actually has a melody. Furthermore, Mr. Avalon and Miss Funicello show some modest acting ability. A clanging group called Dick Dale and the Del-Tones look like praying mantises.
Jody McCrea, Harvey Lembeck and Morey Amsterdam, as sideline comics, are down-right embarrassing. Mr. Cummings has to be seen to be believed and Miss Malone had better hold tight to that Academy Award.
Doom-daddle, doom-daddle, doom-daddle.