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Beach Party': Review of a Film

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The film I selected to review was the teen surfing musical hit, Beach Party. This film was written by Lou Rusoff, directed by William Asher, and released in the United States on August 7, 1963. The music was arranged and composed by Les Baxter and featured artists including Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, and Dick Dale and his Del-Tones. This film became very popular with young teens and young adults because it covered topics that young people deal with including carefree summer fun, the peer pressure of summer flings, and discovering what it means to truly be in love. Beach Party can be placed in several different genre categories including comedy, period piece, and most notably the musical. The film even created its own genre known as the beach party film. While soundtracks can sometimes overpower a film’s plot, Beach Party’s playlist helped bring an element of authenticity to the film’s period setting with its playful lyrics and youthful new vibes of up-and-coming rock and roll styles.

An important actor and performer in this film is Frankie Avalon. Avalon was born on September 18, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was a member of the first wave of teen idols. He broke into the music industry as a child trumpet player, and released his first single at age nineteen. Avalon achieved six number one hits over a four-year period including “Venus” and “De De Dinah.” In 1962, Avalon’s music career was on the verge of fading away, but thanks to his charming good looks, he landed a lead role alongside Annette Funicello in Beach Party and several more surfer films. These films paved the way for future movie roles including the classics Grease (1978) and Blood Song (1982). In 1995, Avalon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor him and the influence he had on the next generation of up-and-coming rock musicians. Mr. Frankie Avalon will always hold a special place in American teen idol history for being not only a heartthrob, but also for maintaining a successful music career and participating in the evolution of rock and roll.

While the young cast of Beach Party included several music performers, they were not cast to portray themselves as artists, but simply as young American teens enjoying a carefree summer fun before taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. The music in the film played a critical part, with an upbeat feel throughout that made the audience want to dance. As part of the plot, Frankie Avalon and Dick Dale sang songs that inspired their friends to twist their bodies and move, most often in a suggestive manner. In contrast, Annette Funicello’s character sang songs mostly about love and being kind to her lover so he wouldn’t have the desire to stray away from her and pursue other females. Overall, the role of the music in the film was to inspire a feeling of being young and alive, and enjoy the summer fun.

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The film was set during the early 1960s, and is connected to the material learned in Units 4 and 5 on Teen Idols and Surf Music. Surf music was very popular in the early 1960s, and stood out from other genres as a distinct movement of the era. Overall, the film promoted a positive message and easy-going vibe. Although this film is over fifty years old, the topics are still relatable to the social norms of today’s target audience of teens. Themes included the causality of summer flings and relationships, learning the difference between lust and love, standing against peer pressure, learning how to effectively communicate wants and needs, dealing with jealousy, and the hopes of building long-term relationships.

In one important scene, Dick Dale unveiled his electric guitar and started to play a dance-oriented rock song with his friends on the beach, while the Professor narrated what he was witnessing and made a comparison to native voodoo mating rituals he has observed in other cultures. This song was important to the film because its instrumentation and style inspired the young teens to get up and start dancing and twisting in the mating-dance type of performance. The electric guitar solo/riff was important to note because it encouraged the kids to let loose by dancing, shaking, and twisting harder and faster, along with getting closer together and jumping around to attract attention. This scene could also serve as a foreshadowing of how young adults turned wild when listening to rock and roll music.

In another important scene, Avalon was prompted to sing and dance with a female, while his male friends supported him with background vocals. He sang about how the girl’s dancing rustled his feathers and made him crave her, and did not want her to stop. Soon every teen in the building began to get up and dance in pairs, while his love interest sat alone with a disapproving look on her face. Avalon allowed females to dance up against him on purpose to make his love interest jealous, which proved effective when she claimed that he was acting like an “over-sexed maniac.” This song was important because of the lyrics “Don’t stop now… What you’re doing is getting to me… Don’t hold back… You make my temperature rise.” The performance was important because up until this point, there had not been much bodily contact during a musical number.

This film review has been helpful in the learning process of this class because it showed how the different elements of a song can convey different emotions. For example, Annette Funicello’s performance of “Treat Him Nicely” was a completely opposite song style compared to the rest of the film’s playlist. It presented a slower tempo, an emotional lead vocal, soft back-up vocals, and a string section rather than a guitar. This song was a notable change of pace, and it offered the audience a chance to feel some of the character’s vulnerability and hidden desire for love. Additionally, this review introduced various artists who helped shape the future of rock music.

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Beach Party’: Review of a Film. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/beach-party-review-of-a-film/
“Beach Party’: Review of a Film.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/beach-party-review-of-a-film/
Beach Party’: Review of a Film. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/beach-party-review-of-a-film/> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
Beach Party’: Review of a Film [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/beach-party-review-of-a-film/
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