Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chicks Dig Guys Who "Ride the Wild Surf"

This surprisingly entertaining teen pic sounds like a rip-off of American-International’s Beach Party films. Yet, while it was made in the midst of those movies, Ride the Wild Surf chose to catch an altogether different wave. Stars Fabian and Shelley Fabares don’t sing a single song—in fact, there are no musical numbers (though Susan Hart provides a provocative hula dance and Jan & Dean croon the closing song). In lieu of grainy stock shots of surfing, we’re treated to am amazing display by real-life champs like Mickey Dora gliding across huge waves. And most surprisingly, the young cast even manages a couple of effective dramatic scenes.

Fabian and Shelley Fabares.
The premise, borrowed freely from Three Coins in the Fountain, has three young men arriving in Hawaii in search of the “big wave” at Waimea Bay. What they find initially are three pretty girls and plenty of teen angst. Jody (Fabian) wants to be “surf bum” until college girl Brie (Shelley) convinces him there’s more to life. Chase (Peter Brown) is a stick-in-the-mud who clashes with the free-spirited Augie Poole (Barbara Eden as a redhead). Steamer (Tab Hunter) falls in love with island girl Lily (Susan Hart), but must convince her surf-hating mother that his intentions are honorable. And to top it all off, there are a couple of unlikable rival surfers (James Mitchum, who resembles his dad Robert, and Roger Davis) and a climatic surf championship.

Peter Brown and Barbara Eden.
None of the cast will be mistaken for great thespians, but they’re likable and energetic. They also hold a certain nostalgic appeal for me. Peter Brown, Barbara Eden, and Roger Davis all went on to star in TV series I watched (Laredo, I Dream of Jeannie, and Alias Smith and Jones, respectively…with Roger also in Dark Shadows). The lovely Susan Hart appeared in a handful of Beach Party movies, married AIP co-founder James Nicholson, and retired from acting. Fabian, after pleasant turns in films like Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, starred in some awful films and faded quickly. I was never a big Shelley Fabares fan, but she certainly established a lengthy career on television and had a #1 pop hit with "Johnny Angel."

Susan Hart.
Much of Ride the Wild Surf appears to have been shot in Hawaii. The tropical locales are scenic and the color photography exceptional for this kind of movie. The surfing scenes are incredible, although the big championship goes for about ten minutes too long. After about the seventh wipe-out, they all look the same!

James Mitchum (Robert's son).
I caught Ride the Wild Surf on late night TV in the early 1990s. I didn’t see it again until it was unexpectedly released on DVD about a decade later. To my delight, I found it as charming as the first time. It made me want to go out and taking surfing lessons. But, by the next day, I felt more practical and quenched my thirst for ocean waves by taking my wife to the Red Lobster for some tasty seafood.

15 comments:

  1. I remember seeing this on TV and liking it a lot as a young teen. The boys were "cute", which is the highest honor a young teenage girl can bestow. I always liked Shelley Fabares on the Donna Reed show, and thought "Johnny Angel" was a great love song until I heard it done by K.D. Lang (put a whole different spin on it!) Makes me want to hit the beach and at least watch surfing, but at the present time Red Lobster sounds fabulous!

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  2. Rick, this was a fun review to read tonight, especially since summer has officially begun! Like you, I thought some of the surf scenes were a bit lengthy but the cast was enjoyable to watch. Great job, Rick!

    Becky, I thought "Johnny Angel" was a sweet love song, too!

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  3. Cowabonga, Now Were Talking Surf Movies Dudes. I saw this film on the Big Screen when it was first released at it was a BIG DEAL. Rick , besides the great So Cal Legend Micky Dora (best ever small wave rider in So CA ) legend has it that Dewey Weber ( Surf board maker and a local South Bay "god'" with his trademark black and white striped trunks doubled for Jim Mitchem. While not in the league of the great Bruce Brown surf flicks (Endless Summer) the surfing is excellent. The last wave rides were shot at Waimea and they also shot at the "Pipeline . And Rick as a average(barey) surfer I have to disagree with you about the wipe-outs( If you never have been in one there's no way I can explain it to you) and the last ride which one of the best ever put on film in the 60's. I was "Stoked "when I first saw it, and it still holds up. "Go Long Dudes".

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  4. Becky, I was hoping to listen to k.d. lang's version of "Johnny Angel" on YouTube, but didn't see it there (bummer!). Toto, it is indeed an entertaining teen cast. I was surprised Peter Brown didn't get a better shot at TV stardom, but he's had a long career and is still performing. A few years back, I saw Susan Hart in an AMC documentary about American-International Pictures and she still looks great. Paul, I'm jealous that you got to see this on a big screen. And it's cool to know that the Cafe has a resident surfer dude. We should review ENDLESS SUMMER one of these days. As a non-surfer, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it, but found myself quite engrossed when I finally saw it.

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  5. Rick, more like Ex-surfer dude, my old mid 1960's "Long Board" is still at Moms House, but I'm moving to Pismo Beach so may be I'll take it with me . The Endless Summer is a good film period, and a classic surf film one of the only films to" get it right".
    Rick you have to remember that before Endless Summer most pure Surf Films (Including Bruce Brown's ) where usually only shown for one or two nights only at places like the Hermosa Beach, Civic Center. It changed every thing. Can you tell I love it?

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  6. I must confess, I am not a surf/beach movie fan. I've been to Hawaii, though. LOL!!! Being from the Midwest, I tend to overlook these films. Your review was entertaining, though. And, I enjoyed reading Paul's comments--his surfing lingo reminds me of happier times on a beach in Maui.

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  7. As I've probably mentioned before, my enjoyment of these 1960s teen classics came later in life. I really can't explain why they appeal to me now, but didn't interest me at all earlier. Perhaps, a lot of it has to do with nostalgia. Also, I may appreciate some of the music more now. Another entertaining 60s romp, A SWINGIN' SUMMER, features tunes by The Righteous Brothers, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and The Rip Chords (I love that name!). Hey, Hawaii sounds nice, Kim. And, Paul, I've already started planning the first annual Cafe conference to be held at Pismo Beach....

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  8. Then Rick you should look into booking the Sand Castle Inn ( a personal favorite) right on the beach, next to the Pismo Pier.
    BTW The 4 members of the Rip Chords were Ernie Bringas, and Phil Stewart, and Columbia Records productors Terry Melcher (Doris Day's son) and Bruce Johnston(who would became a Beach Boy ,and a major songwriter he wrote I wright The Songs (not Barry M) and Disney Girls among others). Terry was the lead singer on Hey Little Corba, he would later produce the first two rock acts Columbia Records signed after Mitch Miller left as head of A&R (he hated rock) The Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders. He would later produce the Beach Boys.

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  9. Wonderful review, Rick. I haven't seen this film, but I'll definitely be checking it out soon. While reading, I was considering riding some wild surf, since apparently chicks dig it, but I think I'll just follow your lead and take a trip to Red Lobster instead. Thanks for a fun write-up!

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  10. Rick, I know why you couldn't find KD Lang singing "Johnny Angel" It's because I got my Johnnys mixed up! (He really got around). KD Lang did "Johnny get angry, Johnny get mad, give me the biggest lecture I ever had, I want a brave man, I want a caveman, Johnny show me that you care, really care for me." That one! She is so funny doing it. Anyway, try looking for that one.

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  11. A nicely written review, Rick. I haven't seen this movie, but you make it sound interesting. I remember Peter Brown from Lawman, Laredo, The Virginian, and he was on one of my favorite episodes of The A-Team. I have always liked Shelley Fabares too. I need to find this movie and watch it.

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  12. Rick, You really did "shoot, the curl" with your Awesome review! Ride the Wild Surf, is by far one of the best of the surf movies. Loved it's beatnick hip dialog and the big waves which captures the best '60 surf footage ever shot.

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  13. A beach movie I haven't seen?!!! Lucky me!

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  15. If anyone's interested in more on Susan Hart's B movie career:

    http://bmoviebabes.blogspot.com/2015/07/65-susan-hart.html

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