1964/Director: Don Taylor/Writers: Jo Napoleon, Art Napoleon
Cast: , Fabian, Shelley Fabares, Peter Brown, Barbara Eden, Tab Hunter, Susan Hart, James Mitchum
Three basically All-American boys meet three All-American girls while they are in Oahu Hawaii to surf the big waves at Waimea Bay. The guys must face their own mortal shortcomings, of course, while wooing the gals and competing the seasoned local surfers. Jody (Fabian) is the college drop-out with a chip on his shoulder who falls for sensible and down to earth Brie Matthews (Shelley Fabares) and tries to gain her attention initially by shooting a pineapple on a dork’s head with a spear gun. She acts all repelled by his hokey machismo but of course she can’t enough of him and his edgy bad boy attitude. And like every good girl she makes it her mission to turn the bad boy around by the film’s end. Jody is intent on proving to everyone, and to himself, that he is not a “chicken”. The big waves intimidate him the way Apollo Creed intimidated Roxy and the way Steve Vai intimidated Ralph Macchio in Crossroads, but he has to conquer them to conquer himself and make Brie really respect him and know he is not just another “bum from the neighborhood”. Jody is more concerned with Jody going back and finishing college and after a heated discussion of about ten seconds he totally changes his views on college and his future and decided to go back and give it try, but it will have to wait until he has conquered the surf and competition, including his pals and local legend Eskimo (played by Jim Mitchum, another of Robert Micthum’s boys, along with Chris, whose acting career never really went anywhere).
Chase (Peter Brown) is a pretty common sense sort of surfer and even wear nice sports jackets to beach. While he wants to shoot the tubes of Waimea he is basically a fairly conservative guy who prefers to color inside the lines. Well that all changes when flips –literally- for perky Augie Poole (the always gorgeous Barbara Eden) who happens to a black belt in judo. Augie takes delight at first in simply shaking Chase’s tree any chance she gets but soon enough, natch, she is falling in love with him and he learns to loosen up and gt a little crazy once in awhile himself, such as when he jumps drunk off a dangerous cliff into a pond known for bringing the waves to Waimea, if the diver does not crack his head open on the rocks beneath the surface. Rounding off the romance angle of the film is Steamer (Tab Hunter) and local girl Lily Kilua (Susan Hart) who have problem’s convincing Lily’s mom that Steamer is not just another beach bum like her ex-husband was. The old gal is pretty hard to convince but eventually ol’ Steamer pulls out his wallet and shows her his bank account of about $1800 and some paid off bills and that puts the old bird’s fears to rest and she all but starts calling him son after that. Susan Hart does one wild Hawaiian dance at a beach party that is not to be missed. She would later marry AIP co-founder and co-producer James H. Nicholson.
Surf movies are not for everybody. They are usually pretty contrived and typically downright silly. I guess some guys may even feel a bit uncomfortable watching bronze surfer boys run around, much the way they may feel watching queasy with most sword and sandal/peplum films. Ah, never bothered me. I only recently realized that these movies are called “homo-erotic”, or whatever, by lots of my fellow straight guys. Who the hell cares if it is, this is fun stuff. If you must know I own the Arnold Schwarzenegger documentary Pumping Iron and that is great too, homoerotic or not! And for fear of seeing guys in swim trucks these types will miss the best part of these surf flicks and that is those full figured 60’s chicks in bikinis. No tasteless things, just old school bikinis, and Barbara Eden can certainly fill her’s out. Ride the Wild Surf is not heavy in the pop tune department and the score by Stu Philips works just fine. But there is the catchy surf tune sung by Jan and Dean –and co-written by Beach Boy Brian Wilson- that is saved until the end of the film. I lifted the song form the film and I think it is a bit shorter here than the full 45 rpm version, but here is the film version of Ride the Wild Surf by Jan and Dean.
TITLE SONG FROM RIDE THE WILD SURF