Beach Blanket Bingo Blu-ray review
It’s a beach filled with two-piece bathing suits, soaking up the sun and waiting for their friends and men to hop out of the waves. There’s movin’ and shakin’ and swimmin’. Among the crowd are Frankie (Frankie Avalon) and Dee Dee (Annette Funicello, six years removed from her days as one of the original Mousketeers), who spot a pair of groovy dancers. Cue “Beach Blanket Bingo,” which has such suggestive lyrics such as Take a blanket, made for two now / Add a boy and a girl / That’s a game for me and you now / Yeah, let’s give it a whirl!
High above, a parachuter jumps from a plane, splashing right by the beachgoers. The parachute turns out to be a stunt double for Sugar Kane (Linda Evans, who would later play Krystle Carrington on DYNASTY; her voice was dubbed here by Jackie Ward), a singer promoting her new album. Enter her agent (Paul Lynde, just months before he would make his first appearance as Uncle Arthur on BEWITCHED), who watches and plots how her star will rise.
Will Sugar Kane be the next big pop sensation? Will Frankie fall for Sugar Kane and leave Dee Dee behind? Will the motorcycle gang, led by a fella named Erich von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck, Billy Wilder’s STALAG 17), get away with kidnapping? None of that really matters. What does is that the gang slaps on their bleached smile, goes skydiving (at a club owned by Don Rickles, no less) and work in some music numbers. (Some of the songs are quite catchy, like “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” sung by Donna Loren, and “Fly Boy,” sung by Ward).
BEACH BLANKET BINGO is the fifth in American International Pictures’ series of beach-related movies, after BEACH PARTY (1963), MUSCLE BEACH PARTY (1964), BIKINI BEACH (1964) and PAJAMA PARTY (1964), and before HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI (1965) and THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI (1966).
Like every entry in the series, BEACH BLANKET BINGO is wholesome and innocent (despite the vast majority of characters acting like they’re whacked out on LSD and the scene where the pop star has her head inches from a buzz saw). There is nothing of complexity here except for Avalon’s hair. But there doesn’t need to be, because BEACH BLANKET BINGO is just an excuse to sing a little, dance a little and get zany. (Buster Keaton fans might get an extra kick watching him catch bikinis with a fishing rod and chasing a woman on the beach.)
It is terribly corny, but then that’s the charm of it. Here is a movie that has all the attitude of a stick of butter and all of the complexity of a pre-washed turtleneck. There’s a reason that the movie, along with the Rock Hudson/Doris Day teamings, is a go-to example of hokey fluff with mild innuendos. There is a certain essence in BEACH BLANKET BINGO that can never be captured again. That’s a good thing, because despite its clear flaws and obvious dating, it puts the movie in a vault that it shares almost entirely with itself.
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. While the picture is sometimes soft, the overall quality is quite good, with fine details and popping colors.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The dialogue is clean and the music comes through nicely.