Sunday, September 21, 2008


One of the few surf movies I've stuck with to the end, in addition to GIDGET and WINTER A-GO-GO (which is a surf movie in ski drag). There are several plotlines to follow here: 1) Pamela Tiffin is a sorority girl being watched over by her uncles (Woody Woodbury and Paul Lynde) who have an old-fashioned vaudeville nightclub act which is barely making them a living. One night at the club, just as the uncles are about to get fired, Woodbury does a comedy routine which is an inexplicable success and the nightclub owner revamps the club into a student hangout called Surf's Up! 2) Rich young playboy James Darren, who has a little black book called a "filly file," falls for Tiffin and has his work cut out for him trying to get her to realize he's serious about her. 3) When he finally succeeds, his grandfather, thinking Tiffin is just a gold digger, tries to scotch the deal by sending college prof Ellen Burstyn to the club, in disguise, to get evidence that illegal gambling and underage drinking is going on so he can close the club. However, Burstyn winds up sympathetic to the kids (and wooed by Woodbury), so the grandfather gets some buddies to infiltrate the club to plant false evidence. It takes a last-minute blackmail plan by the uncles to save the day, for themselves and for the kids.

I can't make any grandiose claims for this as movie art, but it's much more interesting than any of the Frankie & Annette beach movies I've tried to watch, and it has the pleasure of a bizarre cast. First off, there's Burstyn in her first movie role (billed as Ellen McRae), almost unrecognizable as young blonde woman, though her distinctive voice gives her away. Future Gilligan's Island star Bob Denver is Darren's beatnik sidekick, and future Gilligan's Island co-star Tina Louise is stripper Topaz McQueen, who is secret works as a math tutor for the frat boys. Nancy Sinatra is Denver's girlfriend, and Claudia Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, has a small role as a sorority sister. Classic-era actors George Raft, Robert Armstrong, and Allen Jenkins have cameos, as does Roger Smith who had just finished several seasons on TV as studly detective Jeff Spencer on 77 Sunset Strip; Louis Quinn, who played horse-race gambler Roscoe on Strip, is the club owner. Woodbury isn't very funny, and Lynde isn't given much to do. Darren and Tiffin are a nice-looking couple of kids; watch for a Pepsi plug--the movie's title was a Pepsi slogan at the time. Kind of fun for its genre. [TCM]

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