Beach party films

Beach Party films were an American 1960s genre of feature films which often starred Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Walt Disney reluctantly consented to Funicello, a former main cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club, wearing a bikini.[8] The series was originally intended as a low-budget imitation of both the Elvis Presley musical and the Doris Day sex comedy, aimed at the teen market, but they ended up taking on a life of their own. The "classic" series was produced by American International Pictures (AIP), and imitated in turn by numerous other studios. AIP produced a series of seven beach films:Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1963), Bikini Beach (1964), Pajama Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

The 1965 AIP film Ski Party (with Dwayne Hickman, Yvonne Craig, Lesley Gore and James Brown) employed many of the same actors and schticks, only transplanted to a ski resort in the Sawtooth National Forest. Susan Hart, wife of AIP co-founder James H. Nicholson, was in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine as well as two non-AIP beach films, For Those Who Think Young and Ride the Wild Surf.

The 1996 movie That Thing You Do! touches briefly on the phenomenon, with the Wonders making an appearance in a fictional beach party movie, Weekend at Party Pier. A 2001 episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch ("Beach Blanket Bizarro") also paid homage to the series, with Avalon appearing as himself. Avalon and Funicello starred in Paramount Pictures Back to the Beach in 1987, playing off their original roles and subsequent careers. Kelly Killoren Bensimon wrote in The Bikini Book, "It was really all about Annette Funicello. If the girl next door wanted to wear a bikini, then everybody wanted to wear a bikini. We didn't want to be a bad Bond girl. We all really wanted to be the good girl." However, when Annette Funicello was cast in her first beach movie Beach Party (1963), Walt Disney, who held her contract, insisted that she only wear modest bathing suits and keep her navel covered, to preserve her wholesome persona, though she was the only one of the ample number of young women in the film not showing her navel.