Archive for the Surfboards and Hotrods Category

RIDE THE WILD SURF/1964/FABIAN

Posted in Barbara Eden, Fabian, Music and MP3s, Soundtrack Samples, Surfboards and Hotrods on October 24, 2011 by Bill Courtney
RIDE THE WILD SURF

1964/Director: Don Taylor/Writers: Jo Napoleon, Art Napoleon

Cast: , Fabian, Shelley Fabares, Peter Brown, Barbara Eden, Tab Hunter, Susan Hart, James Mitchum

Columbia Pictures’ Ride the Wild Surf is considered one of the better surf/beach party movies of the mid-sixties because it tried to veer away from the campy zaniness of the AIP Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello features and attempted to make as lightly more ‘serious’ surf movie. There are still those campy little moments of course and sometimes they are intentional and other times they are not. The unintentional laughs and embarrassing moments stem from occasional over acting and the cliché situations the characters find themselves in one scene after another, but even given those expected shortcomings the movie is pretty good. There are no crooning surfer boys, silly bikers or people in gorilla suits and the catchy theme song sang by Jan and Dean is saved until the closing credits. But there are lots of blue screen shots of Fabian and Tab Hunter on their boards that cut away to shots of professional surfers riding the waves and silly beach party antics. The film is shot in Hawaii rather than the usual locales of Santa Monica and Malibu. Hardly the first surfer/beach film shot in Hawaii (Gidget goes Hawaiian, Blue Hawaii, Paradise, Hawaiian Style) but one of the better ones that focuses on the powerful and intimidating waves, sometimes 30 foot, the islands get at certain times of the year. And of course there are a trio of romances with our male and female leads that can be summed up as the formulaic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back routine (and what other formula would you really want here) but it is all pretty bearable nonetheless.

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.

http://ia700600.us.archive.org/8/items/swf-player/player.swf
TITLE SONG FROM RIDE THE WILD SURF

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DRAGSTRIP GIRL/1957 /EDWARD L. CAHN/JOHN ASHELY

Posted in AIP, Edward L. Cahn, John Ashley, Juvenile Delinquents-Troubled Teens, Surfboards and Hotrods on June 10, 2011 by Bill Courtney
DRAGSTRIP GIRL

1957/Director: Edward L. Cahn/Writer: Lou Rusoff

Cast: Fay Spain, Steven Terrell, John Ashley, Tommy Ivo, Frank Gorshin

One thing that could never be said of director Edward L. Cahn was that he was a lazy man. 1957 was an average year for the man during the period of the 50’s and early 60’s. He churned out six feature films that year (one film less than 1957 but one more than ’58) and among those films were Invasion of the Saucer Men, Zombies of Mora Tau and this post’s feature Dragstrip Girl. His actors were kept busy as well. Dragstrip Girls stars Steve Terrell and Frank Gorshin would also star in the campy but wonderful sci-fi comedy Invasion of the Saucer Men. In many ways Dragstrip Girl is typical of much of the juvenile delinquent and hotrod flicks of the time. The kids (many who look about 25 or so) really do seem all that rebellious and most parents would welcome these ‘hooligans’ as teenagers to cope with. Heck they even wear suits and ties to the swingin’ alcohol free parties held at some other kid’s parent’s house. But make no mistake, these kids are troubled and tortured and just looking for kicks and something to rebel against. But like many of cahn’s low budget features Dragstrip girl is a slight cut above the rest. Cahn actually knows how to frame a shot and as usual the b/w photography is remarkable. The pacing does not drag and the acting is better than average for a b-movie feature from 1957. In particular are the performances by the three central characters, dragstrip girl herself Louise Blake (Fay Spain), good kid Jim Donaldson (Steve Terrell) and bad boy Fred Armstrong (John Ashley of the 60’s bikini films with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello). Ashley is excellent as the jealous rich kid who always wants to one up his working class buddy Jim but can never seem to do it. Not on the high school football team and not now with new girl and hotrod lover Louise. Of course Louise has no problems with playing the two competitive lugs off of each other for her special form of fun and kicks.

The gang hangs out at a local pizza place but never seem to have enough money to buy even a single slice of pizza. The obligatory clown of group is Tommy Burns (Frank Gorshin). He is constantly trying to get a slice of pizza off the Italian owners and wise cracking with the local cops. But he is also an ace mechanic and has fine tuned Jim’s hotrod so that it is a cinch he will win the big race that is coming up and get enough money to go to college. Fred is going to do all he can do to win Louise and the drag race both and humiliate his life long rival. Louise seems to enjoy all the attention and at one point loses interest in Jim after he has some guilty feeling when he almost hits a woman and a baby carriage. She is looking for kicks man and Jim is keeping the pedal off the metal and she can’t go for that. But later Fred gets a little too carried away and almost kills one of the gang and suddenly Louise sees that maybe all this hotrodding is risky business after all. None of this will prevent the big race from happening on the weekend though. But the cops suddenly show up and have questions about a hit and run from the night before. The evidence points to Jim and his car. Is Jim going to go down for a crime he never committed? Will Louise finally make a decision as to which hotrodder she really loves? Will Fred ever grow up and just be a real buddy to Jim? Will any of the gang ever get oily and greasy and mess up their hair while working on their hotrods? Check out this fine little flick and find out for yourself. I am trying to find the Cahn film Motorcycle Gang which was also made in 1957 and also stars Steve Terrell and John Ashely as troubled young lads. You can expect a review on that once I get it. Other Cahn films that will appear here sooner are later are Zombies of Mora Tau, Invasion of the Saucer Men and It! The terror form Beyond Space and who knows what else since this guy made so many interesting films.