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DON’T MAKE WAVES (director: Alexander Mackendrick; screenwriters: Ira Wallace/George Kingo/Maurice Richlin/from the novel Muscle Beach by Ira Wallace; cinematographer: Philip Lathrop; editors: Rita Roland/Thomas Stanford; music: Vic Mizzi; cast: Tony Curtis (Carlo Cofield), Claudia Cardinale (Laura Califatti), Sharon Tate (Malibu), Robert Webber (Rod Prescott), Joanna Barnes (Diane Prescott), Mort Sahl (Sam Lingonberry), Jim Backus (Himself), David Draper (Harry), Ann Elder (Millie Gunder), Edgar Bergen (Madame Lavinia, astrologist), Douglas Henderson (Henderson); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John Calley/Martin Ransohoff; MGM; 1967)
It should have been much funnier.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This was Brit born filmmaker Alexander Mackendrick’s (“Whisky Galore!”/”Sweet Smell of Success”/”A Highway in Jamaica”) last film before trading in movie making for teaching about film at the California Institute of the Arts. It’s an amiable, no edge satire on southern California’s beach lifestyle. It’s based on the novel Muscle Beach by Ira Wallace, who writes the weak script with George Kingo and Maurice Richlin. It disappointed, as it should have been much funnier. But its climax scene of a luxurious Malibu house sliding down a cliff into the Pacific Ocean gives the farce enough physical comedy to save it from total disaster.

NYC city tourist Carlo Cofield (Tony Curtis) visiting Malibu meets on the cute the Italian beauty aspiring actress Laura Califatti (Claudia Cardinale) when she clumsily nudges his car off the highway. Losing all his worldly possessions, Laura responds after a few nudges to invite him to stay overnight in her Malibu home. But during his stay, Carlo finds out that Laura for the last 6 years has been having an affair with the married swimming pool magnate Rod Prescott (Robert Webber), who visits and kicks the tourist out. Sleeping on the beach, the next morning Carlo goes for a dip and nearly drowns when hit on the noggin with a surfboard. Carlo is rescued with artificial respiration by the sexy sky-diver Malibu (Sharon Tate, her first film role and two years before slain by the Manson crowd) and is smitten.

Carlo likes what he sees on the Left Coast and blackmails sugar daddy Rod into giving him a job as a swimming pool salesman, so he can pursue Malibu. Trouble is Malibu’s boyfriend is the body builder Harry (David Draper), and Carlo plays an ugly trick on the dim-witted strongman to keep him away from Malibu. Meanwhile Rod’s wife Diane (Joanna Barnes) spies on her cheating hubby with private detectives and has plans for dealing with him that include bringing Carlo into running the business.

The pleasant slapstick comedy manages to poke fun at trendy astrologers, greedy business people, vain muscle boy beach bums, the twisted notions of California romance and the spaced-out characters hanging out at the beach. But just not enough is done to give it some kick as a hip comedy, as it’s poorly edited and what should be hip is watered down into middling sitcom stuff. The Byrds sing the theme song.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”