Muscle Beach Party [1964]

Genre: Comedy, Musical
The second film in the Beach Party series returns Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello to the land of endless summer and back-projection surfing. It's as giddy as the first movie. Two inane subplots are added: Frankie is wooed by a wealthy bombshell (knockout Luciana Paluzzi), and Don Rickles trains a team of bodybuilders. The usual Beach Party trademarks are in place, including real surfing footage (much improved from the first film), Candy Johnson's shimmy dancing, and Annette's modified bikini with mesh-covered cleavage. Music is provided by Dick Dale and a rockin' Little Stevie Wonder, with most of the songs penned by a triumvirate of surf-music royalty: Brian Wilson, Roger Christian, and Gary Usher. As Frankie says, "Now you swing with me on that, or you don't swing at all." We swing. Ski Party transfers the Beach Party vibe to snow, with a Some Like it Hot ripoff thrown in. Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman go in drag to discover what girls really want, but Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig put them in the deep freeze. It's surprisingly fun, with deranged musical appearances by James Brown and Lesley Gore. The outdoor stuff was filmed at Sun Valley. Annette Funicello cameos as a sex-ed instructor. --Robert Horton

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