Summer Cinema: Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965
When the temperature goes up, it’s time for something silly.
Summer is many things, but one thing it’s not is serious. It’s just too hot. Too hot for neckties. Too hot for stuffy offices. Too hot for pesky rules about eating ice cream on the bus. In the summer, people celebrate the idea of spending a whole weekend lying on the beach (or picnic blanket or hammock) and doing nothing. By the time August rolls around, you need a break from taking things so seriously – which is exactly why this film is perfect for the summer.
Beach Blanket Bingo was released by American International Pictures in 1965 at the tail end of the popularity of the Beach Party genre they spawned two years earlier with their surprise hit Beach Party. Although interest in the genre was waning, this film is generally accepted to be the best of the series. The film stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as Frankie and Dee Dee, respectively, whose relationship is tested by skydiving pop stars, the Malibu Rat Pack biker gang, a kidnapping and a mermaid. But in case the plot sounds too complicated, don’t worry. There are nine songs throughout the film to give you a break – or roughly one song every ten minutes. It’s all in good fun.
The film was directed by William Asher (who had just started producing and directing Bewitched with his then wife Elizabeth Montgomery), and Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, a pre-Dynasty Linda Evans and Buster Keaton round out the cast.
This was Avalon’s last Beach Party film until he and Funicello teamed up for Paramount’s Back to the Beach in 1987. The genre itself would peter out in 1966 with The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (box office success, like the bikini, never materialized). But every summer needs one last, great shindig before cooler days set in, and Beach Blanket Bingo is it.
So when the summer heat becomes unbearable and you can’t handle anything too heavy, Beach Blanket Bingo is just the ticket. It will help remind you that even summer isn’t meant to last forever.
Did you know? Although playing a teenager, Frankie Avalon was actually in his mid-twenties, married with kids.