tek's rating: ¼

Bikini Beach (not rated)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon

Caution: spoilers.

This is the third movie in the "Beach Party" series. It was released in 1964, but I didn't see it until 2022, during my summer of beach movies. Once again, Frankie and Dee Dee and all their friends head to the beach for the summer. Incidentally, 1964 was the same year that the previous movie came out, and one year after the first movie. I'm not sure if all three movies are supposed to take place in three different years or just two different years. At one point in this movie a character refers to events of the first movie as "last year", but there's also a character who was in the second movie... I don't know, it seems like different years, but maybe the second and third movies take place the same year. Which is weird, because all three movies start with a bunch of teenagers apparently driving to the beach at the start of summer. (Or maybe the second movie was spring break?) But I suppose I'm overthinking movies that don't bear too much thinking about. It's not important. Anyway, I think I liked this movie slightly less than the first movie and slightly more than the second, but it's really hard to judge. They're all movies that I just barely manage to like.

Well, a lot is going on in this movie. There's a newspaper publisher named Harvey Huntington Honeywagon III (Keenan Wynn, whom I knew from Herbie Rides Again, among other things). He has a pet chimpanzee named Clyde (obviously an actor in a costume, though for the purposes of the film he's a real chimp and we're just supposed to accept that). Honeywagon demonstrates that Clyde can surf, and at first the human surfers are impressed, until Honeywagon basically says this proves they're no smarter than monkeys, which of course they take offense at. I found it a little surprising to then find that Honeywagon uses Clyde as a chauffeur; like, if he can drive, that must prove he's as smart as a human, not the other way around, right? But no, later still Clyde drives a drag race car (called a "rail"), which is meant to prove, similarly, that drag racers are no smarter than chimps. Yeah, Honeywagon has it out for both surfers and drag racers, and writes demeaning newspaper articles about them, believing not only that they're mentally deficient, but too preoccupied with sex. But there's a teacher named Miss Clements who stands up for the kids and tries to change Honeywagon's mind about them.

Meanwhile, there's a British pop star called Potato Bug (played by Frankie Avalon, in a dual role) who all the girls go wild over, even though he's not really good looking or musically talented. In fact everything about him is a crass stereotype of British people, from the way he looks to the way he talks, and his singing seems like a mockery of real (actually talented) musicians such as the Beatles. (It is kind of funny, though, that at one point Frankie pretends to be Potato Bug.) Anyway, Dee Dee spends much of the movie upset with Frankie, as always happens in these movies. So she starts hanging out with Potato Bug, who is also a drag racer (and mocks surfers for a sport with "too little speed"), so Frankie challenges him to a race. Of course, as usual, Dee Dee forgives Frankie for his behavior on more than one occasion for reasons that are not at all clear to me. It's like the writers just say, "Okay, we need them to be on good terms in this scene, so let's just ignore all the previous scenes, or whatever." I should also mention that Don Rickles is back, this time playing a guy called Big Drag, who runs the drag race track as well as the Pit Stop, which is the cool hangout in this film, replacing Cappy's Place. Eventually he admits he used to be Jack Fanny (in the second movie), but changed his name and occupation. He also has a pet bird that talks like a parrot, though I'm not sure what kind of bird it actually was. Big Drag is also an amateur artist, and some guy whose face we don't see and who never talks comes into the Pit Stop at least a couple of times to look at his art, but Drag always says it's not for sale.

In case all that wasn't enough, Eric Von Zipper and his gang return, and Von Zipper calls Honeywagon his "idol", because of the articles he'd written about surfers, since he also considers the surfers enemies. Honeywagon is not at all pleased at having a biker as an ally, and wants no part in him or his violence, though Clements finds the situation amusing. And eventually, for a reason that makes no sense to me, Honeywagon does change his mind about the surfers and drag racers. I guess Clements finally convinced him, though I'm not sure how, because it seemed to me like in one scene his mind wasn't changed, and in the next it was. So he writes a retraction, which turns Von Zipper against him. Of course there's eventually a big fight between the bikers and the surfers, with Honeywagon taking the side of the latter. Also on the side of the surfers are Potato Bug and his bodyguard, the Lady Bug. (Wikipedia says she was voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and played by someone else. I never would have guessed that, because I thought she sounded pretty much the way she looked. But whatever. Maybe I'm just oblivious.)

As always, there's some music, including a few songs by Frankie and/or Dee Dee. There's also a band called the Pyramids. And one song by Donna Loren. And Stevie Wonder once again appears at the end of the movie. Plus there's a cameo by Boris Karloff, who mentions Vincent Price (who appeared in the first movie). Anyway, I don't know what else to say about the movie. It's just all really redonkulous and makes very little (if any) sense, but I guess it was sort of amusing. I didn't much care for the characterization of Potato Bug. But overall, I liked the movie more by the end than I did early on. I guess all the wackiness won me over.

surf & beach index
teen comedy index

Beach Party series

Beach Party * Muscle Beach Party * Bikini Beach * Pajama Party * Beach Blanket Bingo * How to Stuff a Wild Bikini * Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
see also Ski Party