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Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A Brief Guide To What Passes For Beach Party Continuity
Beach Party, 1963
In the first film in the series, Frankie takes his girl-friend Dolores to what he thinks is a romantic get-away at the beach for summer vacation. Dolores, however, got a case of cold feet and decided to invite all of her and Frankie's friends in order to prevent him from catching her alone with her guard down. As Dolores puts it, she's close to being a woman, and she's "not getting any closer until I'm a wife." Unknown to the gang, anthropologist Professor Robert Sutwell is conducting a study of the mating habits of American teenagers, suspecting some connection between them and the primitive cultures he's used to studying. Which, surprisingly, comes off very politically correct for 1963. Frankie, unable to get anywhere with Dolores, decides to make her jealous by flirting with Eva, the voluptuous waitress at Big Daddy's. While there, the gang runs into both Eric Von Zipper and his gang the Rats, who is prevented from manhandling Dolores by the timely intervention of Professor Sutwell, who incapacitates Von Zipper with the Himalayan Time Suspension Technique. Dolores decides to get back at Frankie for flirting with Eva by letting him think she's interested in "Bob", much to the annoyance of Bob's assistant Marianne, who has long carried a torch for him. A series of comic misunderstands leads to Marianne ending up with Robert, Dolores ending up with Frankie, and the gang saving the Professor from a rumble with the Rats. Eva ends up with Von Zipper.
Frankie's side-kick, played by John Ashley, is named Ken.
Dolore's pal, played by Valora Noland, is named Rhonda.
Candy Johnson shows up and shimmys frequently.
Mike Nader appears as a surfer boy, but isn't given any lines.
Morey Amsterdam appears as Cappy, owner of Big Daddy's, and unofficial patron for the surf-kids
Muscle Beach Party, 1964
The gang returns to the beach, only to discover that their shack is now next door to a gang of muscle-headed body-builders straight out of an issue of Physique Pictorial. And no, the fact that the body-builders are wearing pink shorts and capes when they're introduced isn't the slightest bit gay-baiting, not at all... The body-builders are coached by Jack Fanny, played by Don Rickles, and Peter Lupus, fresh off a stint of Italian gladiator films, plays the pride of Jack's stable, Flex Martian. Julie, a beautiful and wealthy widow, has sailed her yacht to Malibu, and is conspiring with her business manager, S.Z. Matts, played by Buddy Hackett, to buy Flex out from Jack. However, after seeing Frankie engage in a bit of night surfing and singing, Julie falls in love with him instead, and makes plans to wisk Frankie away as her latest play-thing with the bribe of a recording contract. After pissing off his friends, who think he's getting a swelled head, and Dee-Dee, who hates seeing him with another woman, Frankie realizes that Julie is just using him, and the whole story winds up with a rumble in Cappy's recently rebuilt restaurant between the surfers and the body-builders.
Dolores is now Dee-Dee.
Ken is now Johnny.
Rhonda is now Animal, and she's been given a personality trait. It is "boy crazy."
Candy's ability to cause disasters to befall other people by shaking her hips at them is established.
Mike Nader still doesn't have any lines.
Donna Loren first appears as a hanger-on to the surf crowd. Dr. Pepper ads show up occasionally during musical numbers.
Bikini Beach, 1964
A new vacation starts, and the beach gang find themselves squeezed between hostile forces. On the one hand, there's the Beatle-esque British rocker Potato Bug, setting up camp at the beach and making a play for Dee-Dee. On the other, there's Harvey Huntingdon Hunnywagon the Third, owner of the local retirement home, using a trained chimpanzee to attempt to turn the public against the surfers by proving that mentally they're on the same level as a primate, thus allowing him to buy the beach cheaply to expand his retirement community. And then there's the return of Eric Von Zipper and his Rats and Mice, eager to help HHH3 in his quest to discredit the surfers, and given an opportunity to do so when Frankie challenges the Potato Bug to a drag race, allowing Von Zipper and company to sabotage the Bug's dragster and frame Frankie for it. Luckily, 3H3 gets his mind turned around by the timely intervention of local pro-surfer school teacher Vivian Clements and Von Zipper accidentally sabotages Frankie's dragster, leading to a rumble between the surfers and the bikers at the recently rebuilt Cappy's place.
Jack Fanny has retired from managing body-builders and now runs Cappy's and the drag strip under the name Big Drag.
Animal is now played by Meredith MacRae. It's implied that she's now Johnny's girl-friend.
Frankie Avalon plays both Frankie and Potato Bug, a portrayal that never quite feels like it's meant to be a nice parody of the Beatles. As is one of the rules of comedy, the fact that Frankie and Potato look exactly alike is never commented on, even when Frankie disguises himself as Potato.
Mike Nader still doesn't have any lines.
Von Zipper's sociopathic henchman South Dakota Slim puts in his first appearance and plays pool with Von Zipper. Really. That's pretty much it. Also, Von Zipper hangs out with a were-wolf. I told you he was the greatest villain ever.
Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965
The gang's vacation is interrupted when a lady sky-diver lands just off-shore. Frankie swims out to rescue her, not realizing that the lady in question is a pro, and this is all a publicity stunt cooked up by Bullets, the manager of pop singer Sugar Kane, who substituted for the sky-diver, Bonnie, shortly after landing. Frankie being Frankie, he's all too happy to play along with Bullets and his publicity scheme, even though Von Zipper, Sugar Kane's biggest fan, is incensed that she's hanging out with the beach bums. The gang all get it into their head that sky-diving is much more fun than surfing, so they head out to Jack Fanny's latest enterprise, a sky-diving school he runs under the name big drop, where they meet Bonnie and her possessive, jealous boyfriend, the curiously familiar looking Steve. Naturally, a love quadrangle develops between Steve, Bonnie, Frankie and Dee-Dee, as in the pair Frankie has run into a woman more scheming than him and a man more jealous than Dee-Dee. Deadh-I mean, "Bonehead" has too much sense to go sky-diving, so he stays at the beach, where he nearly drowns after hitting his head in a wipe-out. Luckily he's saved by Lorelei, a mermaid. Yes. No one believes him, though, as they all saw Sugar Kane pulling him out of the water. And then things get weird. Frankie is falsely accused of rape by Bonnie. Bonehead is suspected of killing Lorelei when the gang spots him burying the clothes she wore to attend a party with Bonehead on land. And Sugar Kane, thinking it's another of Bullets publicity stunts, gets kidnapped by Von Zipper, only to end up tied up to a log about to be shredded by South Dakota Slim. Everything works out in the end, though in the form of a chase scene between surfers and bikers rather than a rumble.
This time around, Animal is played by Donna Michelle. She still doesn't get to do much other than keep Dee-Dee from talking to herself.
Deadhead is now Bonehead.
Mike Nader finally gets a speaking part, promoted to Frankie's new side-kick, Butch.
John Ashley plays sky-diving instructor Steve. No one notices that Steve looks exactly like their friend Johnny, who is curiously absent. It's really quite creepy.
That whole "Frankie is accused of rape/Bonehead is suspected of murder" thing is really way out of tone with the rest of the films.
Von Zipper's Mice finally get names. Puss and 'N Boots. Yes, really.
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, 1965
Frankie is off on a tropical island, doing a stint with the Coast Guard Reserves. While he's there, he's busy making time with a native girl, but he wants to be sure that Dee-Dee isn't doing the exact thing he's doing while she's alone back home. The local witch doctor whips up a spirit, Cassandra, to keep the boys occupied, but unfortunately she shows up at the beach at the same time as a couple of ad executives, "Peachy" Keene and his junior associate Ricky, played by Dobie Gillis himself, Dwayne Hickman, looking for the perfect girl to be part of their new ad campaign to improve the image of motorcycle riders. Ricky is far more interested in Dee-Dee, relishing the challenge she represents, as opposed to Cassandra who rather throws herself at him. Von Zipper gets involved, due to his crush on Cassandra, and he employs his newest henchman North Dakota Pete, first to try to get Ricky out of the picture and then to cheat in a motorcycle race to determine whether the Von Zipper/Cassandra team or the Ricky/Dee-Dee team will represent the ideal "couple next door" image of motorcyclists. In the end, Frankie gets Dee-Dee back and everyone else ends up with, well, nothing.
It's formally established that Dee-Dee is short for Delores. Because "Delores" has two Ds in it, I guess.
Marianne Gaba is our Animal this time around. That makes four Animals in five films.
Johnny, Butch and Bonehead don't get to do much this time around than lip-sync to songs.