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Surf, Sand And Song: The Past And Present Of Beach Party Movies

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The album cover for Annette Funicello's "Muscle Beach Party" album. (eBay)

The so-called "beach party" films of the early 1960's -- which frequently starred actors like Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon -- were a hugely successful genre full of the most popular music acts of the day. But as the Vietnam War and other protest movements escalated in the mid-'60s, the lighthearted films went out with the tide. 

Now, Disney is attempting to reboot the beach party movie franchise -- and score another big High School Musical-style hit -- with a new film, Teen Beach Movie.

 "It's a whole new thing for the audience of Disney Channel, which is primarily 6-12 year old kids," says Brooks Barnes, who recently wrote about it for The New York Times. "[But] more than relaunching an old genre, they're trying to continue a franchise that they have with summer musicals... so they're looking around to see what can we do that doesn't feel completely 'been there, done that' to our viewers."

Film historian, author and creator of the website Sixties Cinema, Tom Lisanti, also chimes in to give a primer in 1960's beach party movie music -- from Annette and Frankie's duets to James Brown's impromptu ski-themed performance. 

Watch the trailer for the new Teen Beach Movie: 

Watch the Beach Boys, James Brown, and other musicians perform beach party movie songs:

Dick Dale, "Swingin' And Surfin'" in Beach Party (1963):


The Beach Boys, "Little Honda" in The Girls On The Beach (1965):


Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, singing the title song from Beach Blanket Bingo (1965):


James Brown & the Famous Flames, "I Feel Good" in Ski Party (1965):


The Animals, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" in It's a Bikini World (1967):


Brooks Barnes and Tom Lisanti

Comments [1]

George O'Hanlon from White Plains, NY

I really enjoyed the soundcheck "Beach Movies" show this evening. A very nostalgic trip.

Jul. 11 2013 09:54 PM

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