Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 10 out of 10
Director: William Asher
Starring: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Deborah Walley
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Chick Flick, Musical
Run Time: 97 minutes
Sequel: How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)
Frankie (Avalon) and Dee Dee (Funicello) are the cutest couple on the beach, but when singing sensation Sugar Kane (Linda Evans) drops right out of the sky and is saved by Frankie, Dee Dee can’t help but feel a little bit jealous. To make matters worse, when the couple decides to try out skydiving lessons, and Dee Dee finds herself with yet another rival to deal with. This time, it’s Bonnie Graham (Walley), a too-cute skydiving instructor who decides to make Frankie her new romantic interest. Meanwhile, the gang’s friend Bonehead (Jody McCrea) falls in love with Lorelei (Marta Kristen), a mysterious girl who saves him from drowning. Add Sugar’s crafty manager Bullets (Paul Lynde), a biker gang led by none other than the “infamous” Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), skydiving instructor Big Drop (Don Rickles), Buster Keaton as his assistant, and lots of music and fun; and you have Beach Blanket Bingo.
One thing I will say is that this movie is incredibly corny. I don’t say that to be mean. In fact, I just LOVED it! But, it is very corny. It’s obvious that it’s very dated. However, even though it might not be enjoyable for the same reasons as in the 1960s, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good time watching it. What might have been considered “cool” back then is perhaps a bit “corny” now, but that makes it funny, and who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I love that!
Avalon and Funicello are of course the principle love interest of this film, but to be honest, I think that Dee Dee should have ditched Frankie before the first half of the film had even finished. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; the boy is such a player! Yes, he’s a cutie, and yes, the girls seem to love him, but really, he should show a bit more respect for the girl he already has! Whether he’s hanging off the arm of Sugar Kane, or “helping” Bonnie with her skydiving gear, Frankie is always putting the moves on the ladies, whether he realizes it or not! Plus, his rather juvenile comments about Dee Dee’s desire to learn skydiving (a girl’s place is in the kitchen, not jumping out of a plane) should be enough to earn him a good tongue-lashing for his insolence).
I personally thought the romance between Bonehead and Lorelei was just adorable. In case you couldn’t guess from his unfortunate nickname, Bonehead is certainly not the most observant young man. However, when Lorelei catches his eye, he really starts to pay attention. McCrea was super sweet, and downright adorable; and of course, the viewer instantly feels for him. Not only does he fall in love with a mermaid, but no one believes him! And of course, Marta Kristen was beautiful; what a perfect mermaid!
The Rats (a biker gang) were obviously meant to be the main comic force. Led by the slapsticky Eric Von Zipper, with his “Mice” Puss and Boots (Alberta Nelson and Myrna Ross, respectively), and the dastardly South Dakota Slim (Timothy Carey), they always manage to provide plenty of laughs. (Although, I’m not going to lie; it’s pretty corny stuff).
All in all, this was a fun movie. It may not be an Oscar-winning performance, or anything, but it was good enough. This is not the kind of movie someone watches expecting some greater truth to be revealed, or that they will be treated to award-winning acting or the greatest cinematography of the decade. They expect music, bikini-clad girls, and a lot of fun. And that’s what they get. No more, no less. I guess it’s one of those films that you have to go into with certain expectation in mind. But, if you want something light-hearted and fun for a nice summertime diversion, then you should be sure to check this out, “bubbie”!