In 1963, producer Sam Arkoff created the "beach party" movie genre. With inspiration from the popular Gidget
films and the obscure Love in a Goldfish Bowl
, Arkoff signed teen idol Frankie Avalon and Disney dream girl Annette Funicello to appear in the imaginatively-named Beach Party
, released by Arkoff's AIP studios in late summer 1963. With the pre-established formula of teens, bathing suits, music and a simple plot thrown in there somewhere, Beach Party
was a surprise hit. It spawned eleven more films using the same premise, if not the same locale. The action in most took place on the beach, but some were set in a winter ski lodge and others on the blacktop of an auto race track. However, all were chock full of hunky boys on surfboards and cute girls in bikinis (except, of course, Annette, under strict orders from Walt Disney). They featured music from the top trendy bands of the day, including Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, "Little" Stevie Wonder, Bobby Fuller Four, The Hondells and a slew of one-hit wonders. There was also a roster of popular comedians and actors known for their work in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Buster Keaton, Don Rickles, Keenan Wynn and even Oscar winner Dorothy Malone had no problem lowering themselves to the sophomoric level of writing and humor of these films. They were, indeed, a hoot!
And, boy, do I love them!
Of course, because Hollywood has a nasty habit of rehashing popular ideas, Arkoff's beach series gave other studios the cue to make their own entries into the genre, hoping to cash in on AIP's success. Just recently, I watched United Artists' attempt at making a "beach movie." The film — entitled For Those Who Think Young — is a mess. Just a mess.
Released in July 1964, between AIP's Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach, For Those Who Think Young wasn't really well thought out. Sure, it checks all the right boxes (Boys, girls, beach, music, Paul Lynde), but it lacks the endearing quality of the AIP films. Say what you will about the Frankie/Annette movies. They may be silly. They may have sub-par acting, but they do have plots. Paper-thin, yes, but plots, just the same. And they stick with those plots until the story is resolved. For a 90 minute feature, there is about 20 minutes worth of plot, allowing plenty of room for dancing on the beach, comical mugging from Buster Keaton and Mickey Rooney and a song or two from the two lead actors. But everything is neatly and satisfyingly summed up by the film's conclusion. And there's even enough time for another song and waving "bye-bye" to the viewing audience.
For Those Who Think Young
starts off with good intentions. Good-looking James Darren is chasing pretty Pamela Tiffin (obviously, Shelley Fabares wasn't available, so they got someone who looks like her), much to the dismay of her over-protective uncle. All that is laid out in the first five minutes. Then, somewhere along the way, the plot is abandoned. There is a disjointed subplot involving a romance between Bob Denver and Nancy Sinatra. Suddenly, a major shift is made that makes Tiffin's uncle, played by up-and-coming comedian Woody Woodbury, the lead character. James Darren and Pamela Tiffin disappear for long periods of time, taking their storyline with them. Meanwhile, Woodbury monopolizes the screen with a little help from Paul Lynde and a pre-Ginger
Tina Louise as a stripper. As the film winds to a close, character actor Robert Middleton is revealed to be an underhanded villain of some sort. He is outed, disgraced and everybody sings... and drinks Pepsi. Yep, at the time, "For Those Who Think Young" was the current advertising slogan for the Number Two cola company. At times, the movie feels like an extended commercial for the soft drink, made apparent by the blatant product placement. See?.... a mess.
The actors are all fine. Bob Denver, just a few months prior to ingratiating himself as everyone's favorite hapless first mate, provides some comic moments as James Darren's valet. Nancy Sinatra, in a brunette wig, is a foil for Denver's antics, otherwise, she is essentially a prop. Claudia Martin (Dean's daughter) is included in the bevy of girls. I suppose when Dino heard that Ol' Blue Eyes' progeny was cast, well....
Paul Lynde is... well... Paul Lynde. He mugs for the camera, chews the scenery and delivers his dialogue like he's giving an audition for his role as Samantha Stephens' "Uncle Arthur." (Ironically, the AIP beach movies were predominantly directed by Bewitched
showrunner William Asher.) Tina Louise acts as though she is giving a performance worthy of Academy Award consideration. Woody Woodbury, the true star of the movie, is a typical hack comedian. He made a handful of movies after FTWTY
and, at 98 years old, still offers a stand-up act in a Florida comedy club.
I usually have a high tolerance for bad movies. I can sit through some real clunkers. Some of my favorites are some really bad movies that I can watch over and over again.
For Those Who Think Young will not be joining their ranks. I have already deleted it from my DVR queue.