I was talking to my my friend Stan Blitz and somehow we got on the subject of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movies. Now I am not sure where Stan stood, but for me, I thought they were so hokey and corny that I actually liked them. I laughed clear through them and it got me thinking…
Where are the Frankie Avalon’s Annette Funicello’s of today? We really don’t have them. It is not Hanna Montanna, it is not the Jonas Brothers, and please have mercy on us all it is not Justin Bieber. Let’s face it, we simply do not have teen age movies with pizzazz and class and down right fun any more.
There is no one out there like Avalon and Funicello. They had chemistry on screen. They made beach parties the thing of the 60s and introduced a whole line of beach party movies. Beach Party aired in1963, then Muscle Beach Party came in1964 Bikini Beach was also 1964 and Beach Blanket Bingo was in1965.
I suppose anyone could have written these silly scripts which usually involved goofy boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, surfers and beach bunnies, rock ‘n roll, and good old fashioned squeaky clean fun. But clearly no one can do that today!
Did I say squeaky clean? I mean beyond squeaky clean. Shucks and golly gee was probably about as down and dirty as it got in these movies. It really was about wholesome fun which today is absolutely unheard of. Maybe that is one reason these movies became so iconic. Today we do not have anything that is simply clean fun. Not when it comes time for bathing suits and beach party’s. It all turns to sex, drinking and whatever else.
There was something about these silly movies that would become part of American history. Let’s face it, Avalon and Funicello couldn’t act so well and neither one of them looked like teenagers. The story lines were corny and the filming was awful, but what these movies did for us was make us feel good for a few short hours.
These movies also helped make surfer music cool and nifty. In fact these movies produced some real music hits. These movies would produce much more than sappy beach movies, they created fads. Can’t say we do that today anymore either. Guess we are too busy scoring points with our video games and texting to enjoy those simple pleasures of music and fads.
Well I salute the corny beach movies and am thrilled what it did for the 60s. Since no one will ever be able to reproduce these, you can certainly rent them or get a peek of them on youtube. So hats off to Frankie Avalon Annette Funicello—they just don’t make them like this anymore.