Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Beach Blanket Bingo</strong> (1965)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) Every decade in Hollywood history has its own incredibly specific subgenre, and one of the most charming ones I can think of is the spate of 1960s teenage beach movies. Taking aim at the then-developing teenager market segment (Hello Boomers!), it weaved the youth obsessions of the time—surfing, singing, dancing, partying and motorcycling for the bad boys—around a few musical numbers and cartoonish villains. Beach Blanket Bingo was the fifth of the seven mainline “Beach Party” movies, and arguably the best known of them. (With a title like that, no wonder!) Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello once again stars as the all-American teenage couple at the centre of the film’s antics. This time around, the plot has to do with publicity stunts, skydiving, a mermaid and a kidnapping. No less than Buster Keaton shows up in a comic role, deftly keeping up with the youngsters. There are plenty of funny moments, even with comical Nazi biker antagonists. To modern eyes, Beach Blanket Bingo is intriguing in how it plays into teenage interests but not too much—it scrupulously avoids any unpleasant subjects in favour of a universe in which fun on sunny beaches are the norm. (Heavens forbid our lead couple would do more than just kiss.) Still, it’s a lot of fun, and definitely entertaining despite the superficiality. I don’t recommend watching more than one of those movies every few months, though—they all blur together even if you’re paying attention.

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