Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beach Blanket Bingo Film Here in '65

MALIBU -- At a beach near Malibu named after actor Leo Carrillo (Poncho on The Cisco Kid TV show) I am tracing the foot steps of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funichello who filmed the classic, “Beach Blanket Bingo” 44 years ago for American International Pictures (AIP) here.
Visible in he background is the rock where an aged Buster Keaton (or his stunt double) fished in the movie. “Sink your toes in the sand and get ready to rock and roll” with Frankie and Annette is the hype that an AIP publicist wrote but as you can see there wasn’t much barefoot action here on this December day with temperatures in the 50s.
I was living in Glendale when AIP made history with the beach movies but I might as well have been in Bangladesh for all I knew about surfing and the Beach Boys then. In recent years as I try to cope with Minnesota winters I have been drawn to anything that relieves the winter blues including beach movies. The movie is full of “fun, frolic and song” with Don Rickles, Harvey Lembeck, handsome John Ashley, Paul Lynde and a very young LInda Evans included in the star studded cast.
As luck would have it, Angelinos this day were experiencing what a Barbie doll reporter on KTLA cooed was “bitter cold” which translates to a low of 40 or a summer day in Minneapolis. Hearty Southlanders testified on Channel 5 regarding their brave efforts to stem the threat of frostbite which included firing up all appliances that emit heat.
Later I was on the patio at our Mailbu beach motel collecting my thoughts when a fellow traveler joined me, barely visible through a thick cloud of cigarette smoke with his portable radio blaring gospel music. All this was jarring my serenity until I learned that I was in the company of an erstwhile Hollywood screenwriter recently transplanted from England who was fairly confident about his chances to break into the movies or TV at the very least. Hope springs eternal.
So it was no surprise that when we stayed a night at the LAX Marriott no less than the frenzied followers of sci fi and horror had gathered to commune about their mutual obsessions at “LosCom”. I was invited to join the festivities. I repeatedly asked the attendees of all ages dressed as characters in a Hammer gothic horror movie if they were professional writers. Not a writer in the crowd but many I suspect have turned the pages of a few comic books. To be charitable, this event looked like a lot of fun with the Horror Film Festival featuring such luminaries such as Patrick Kilpatrick and possibly Sean Young who star in “Parasomnia” -- a cinematic effort about a psychic serial killer who invades the mind of a distressed damsel. Hasn’t this been done?
For those who worship at the altar of bad movies, this must be the place. I plan to return soon.