Beach Ball (1965) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Beach Ball (1965)

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If music be the food of love, play on.

Shakespeare said the above quote, but he made no amends for terrible music. Too bad, because the idea behind that quote-- that music lubricates the romantic process between men and women-- is fully utilized for Beach Ball, another movie in the beach cannon more focused on the rocking and the rolling than much of anything else.

This film stars a trio called The Wigglers (not The Wiggles), and if that name alone isn't enough to convince you... well, I won't link you to their music, but it's okay, you'll hardly remember it a few seconds after it ends.

Beach movies of the 1960's could rarely be contented with one musical act, and this one spins that into something truly remarkable to behold. Opening for the incredibly generic and-- if the plot is to be believed-- relatively unsuccessful Wigglers are groups such as The Four Seasons and The Supremes. Yes, the motherfucking Supremes are in this film, and get second billing to a trio of idiots in three piece suits.

Look, it's the Supremes! Wow! That's so much more amazing than anything else in this film by at least infinity and a half.

Yet, in this film's world, The Wigglers are poor and troubled, and in hock to the villainous music shop owner. This is where the plot kicks in as they must skydive, race cars, and try to scam their college loan board in order to pay off their loans for their instruments. Yes, this is back when instruments cost more than college.

The four women who turn down The Wigglers for their falsified loan decide to get back at the boys for being made a fool out of. Their solution? Doing a case study by taking off their glasses and seducing the men. If you thought the cliche of one woman taking off her glasses and becoming beautiful was annoying, watching it times four creates nothing but pure raging incredulity.

Back in my review of It's A Bikini World I briefly touched on faux feminism always present in these films, and Beach Ball certainly has some of the most egregious assertions on this front that I've seen yet. The four women haven't a ounce of personality between them, other than being slightly nerdy. As soon as they meet the men, the boys choose which man gets which woman, and, bam, that's how it works. The women have no complaints once they're stripped out of their dresses by the beach bimbos and forced into a set of bikinis-- they've not-coincidentally also been stripped of what little sense of individuality they had.

"Those candy bars look good without the wrappers on."

This omnipresent need for conformity has run through all three of the films. The villains are always the people who don't "get" beach culture, no matter how nice their intentions are. Anyone who's not a part of their ways of life must be systematically coerced into joining. It's a social mantra tellingly illustrative of the baby boomer frame of mind-- you're either with us or you're against us. That a lot of this film is also about four people living beyond their means without pondering any of the consequences of their rigid belief in homogeneity is probably a historical coincidence more than anything.

We want what we want and we'll take it. We're white, we're men, hear us roar.

The Wigglers don't come across very well here, nor does their manager, teen idol Edd Byrnes. They're charmless, bad musicians, and worse actors.

Over the other two films I watched this weekend, the best thing I can say about Beach Ball is this: this one does have Dick Miller. He's a famous character actor who survived as a bit player in Roger Corman flicks for ages (including one of my favorites, Rock n' Roll High School) and regular appearances in the work of Joe Dante (Matinee being another favorite). He doesn't do much here, but, hey, the guy's been in a 175 movies, they can't all be winners.

In the end, a lot of these beach films can be a fun celebration of youthful exuberance and folly. Beach Ball simply isn't; it feels like a jellyfish came ashore one day and decided to make a movie. You know it was a jellyfish because it simply has no heart.

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Posted by Danny

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