Muscle Beach Party (1964).
I don’t know what it’s like in your neighborhood, but here in Southern California, this week has been Too Darn Hot. Makes you want to cool off at the beach, catching some waves at a beach party.
“Muscle Beach Party” to be exact.
This second entry in AIP’s Beach Party series stays faithful to the formula of the original — Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello surf and dance and romp with their friends while various popular music acts pop up to provide the rockin’ soundtrack — and makes it work once again. The plot is mostly beside the point, but it involves the surfer kids butting heads with an encroaching school of bodybuilders (led by Don Rickles and Peter Lupus/Rock Stevens) and a bored socialite (Luciana Paluzzi). It’s fun, stupid, fluffy and innocuous, which is the perfect tone for the material.
The Beach Party series was powered by its guest stars, and this one is no exception. Besides Rickles, there are also appearances by Buddy Hackett, Morey Amsterdam and Peter Lorre, in his last film role. On the music front, the audience is treated to performances by Donna Loren, Stevie Wonder in his film debut, and plenty of songs by surf legend Dick Dale and the Del-Tones.
Want to stay inside and beat the heat? There certainly are worse ways to do that than “Muscle Beach Party” and the rest of the Beach Party series.
“I only take what’s free! Now, you swing with me on that or you don’t swing at all!”
Except for Stevie Wonder’s number and the sappy “A Girl Needs a Boy” ballad, all the songs were co-written by the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
“Beach Party” (1963).
Take a Look:
Donna Loren joins Dick Dale and the Del-Tones to sing “Muscle Bustle”:
Peter Lorre puts a stop to all these shenanigans: