BEACH BLANKET BINGO
director/writer: William Asher; screenwriter: Leo Townsend; cinematographer: Floyd Crosby; editors: Eve Newman/Fred Feitshans; music: Les Baxter; cast: Frankie Avalon (Frankie), Annette Funicello (Dee Dee), Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper), Linda Evans (Sugar Kane), Lorelei (Marta Kristen), Deborah Walley (Bonnie), John Ashley (Steve), Jody McCrea (Bonehead), Paul Lynde (Bullets), Don Rickles (Big Drop), Donna Loren (Donna), Tim Carey (South Dakota Slim), Earl Wilson, Bobbi Shaw (Bobbi), Buster Keaton (Buster); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: James Nicholson/Sam Arkoff; MGM; 1965)
“If this one is considered the best in the series, I’d hate to see the others.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This was the fifth Beach Blanket teen film made by A.I. P. If this one is considered the best in the series, I’d hate to see the others. It’s a mindless teen time capsule film. Director William Asher (“Fireball 500″/”Bikini Beach”), known for television sitcoms, seems out to sea. He’s the co-writer with Leo Townsend of this nonsense film about hanging out at the beach while on a summer break with beach bums, sky divers and bikers.
It takes place on some unnamed California beach inhabited by a pack of smarmy teen surfers (that’s the crowd where teen lovers Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello hold hands and sing nauseous-creating love songs to each other). The beach has a sky-diving club (run by the unfunny insult comedian Don Rickles and his helpers Buster Keaton and Bobbi Shaw) and also bikers (called the Rat Pack who are led by a very unfunny Harvey Lembeck).
P.R. man Bullets (Paul Lynde), as a publicity stunt for singer Sugar Kane’s (Linda Evans) new record, Come Fall With Me, has a double (Marta Kristen) jump from a parachute to land near a rescue boat only to have it seem like it was Sugar Kane who jumped. Thereby Sugar Kane goes back in the water and is rescued by surfer Frankie Avalon, and the agent takes a photograph for the newspapers. This gets Frankie’s girlfriend Annette Funicello jealous, since Frankie flirts with her. Meanwhile, the black leather jacket clad Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) makes a futile kidnapping attempt to win over Sugar Kane from the surfers.
One of the best comedians from the silents, the Old Stone Face, has a cameo running around the beach with the bikini clad Bobbi Shaw. It was only funny because Buster Keaton can draw laughs even from such dreck. Here he does it by doing slapstick routines from the silents, as he’s moving in a different motion than the rest of the cast.
It should be pointed out that by the end Frankie and Annette kiss and make-up, while a dim-wit beach character by the name of Bonehead (Jody McCrea), bares his soul and wins the love of a mermaid (yeah, the sky diver reveals herself as a mermaid).
This is the sort of film you might want to see just before you die so you can reassure yourself that your passing might not be such a bad thing. Yet I’ve seen worse garbage, and Buster Keaton wasn’t in them.
REVIEWED ON 6/15/2020 GRADE: C-