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"Leisurely" pace, and an actual story
destiny-1727 July 2005
This Beach movie actually tells a story, asking the question - would Frankie be happier surfing all over the world as the singing protégé of a rich woman who wasn't Dee-Dee? But don't worry - it's conveyed in short snatches of hipster-y dialog ("Solid-gold surf boards don't float too well!") between songs, hijinx, and some well-edited surfing footage.

Enjoy the "leisurely" pace - footage of the kids' cars arriving at the beach, establishing shots of the beach at night, even the kids settling in for a night of sleeping and no hanky-panky... (Frankie doesn't believe it, either.) Annette gets another good slow song - which, unfortunately, Frankie also decides to sing later on. Frankie's fast song is better,and Stevie Wonder sings a joyful "Happy Street". (And then sings it again in the closing credits.) I just wish Dick Dale had done a guitar solo instead of singing..

Buddy Hackett is a lot of fun, but also gets a poignant point-making monologue at the end. Peter Lorre does one of the better end-of-the-movie cameos as "the Boss," and there's the usual turns by Don Rickles and Morey Amsterdam. For the ladies, there's a line of genuine California beach muscle-men, including future "Grizzly Adams" star Dan Haggerty. (He jiggles his chest muscles and whistles!)

And I think Annette is actually wearing a two-piece!
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10,000 biceps meet 5,000 bikinis...
moonspinner552 October 2005
Despite lots of musclemen in the supporting cast, "Muscle Beach Party" could maybe use some steroids. The first follow-up to "Beach Party" is a bit lackluster and talky, and the pacing drags. Frankie (Frankie Avalon) and Dee Dee (Annette Funicello, no longer 'Dolores') feud over another woman who's out to snare the cocky surfer-boy (when Dee Dee tells Frankie how selfish he is and that all he ever does is 'take', the movie touches on some surprisingly prickly teen emotions). But the witty lines and funny repartee of "Beach Party" have mostly been replaced by wan slapstick and too many characters (and too much of Don Rickles). Candy Johnson does her version of dancing ("Man, she's really got the power!"), "Little" Stevie Wonder sings "Happy Street", and the surfing footage is fun, but Harvey Lembeck's Eric Von Zipper is AWOL (there wasn't room for him, what with Luciana Paluzzi as a millionairess, Buddy Hackett as her manager, and a dozen musclemen lining the beach). Annette is lovely singing forlornly as Frankie paddles out to sea, but she's far too patient with him (in one scene alone, he makes up with her, then drops her, then makes up again!). Not the strongest entry in the series, but with a few colorful compensations. **1/2 from ****
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If there were only three movies ever made -- say, "Muscle Beach Party," "Problem Child," and "Teen Wolf 2" -- this film would definitely be the greatest film of all time.
madonnelly514 April 2000
Perhaps unappreciated in its time, William Asher's 1964 saga about the tribulations of living jobless and care-free on California's sunny coast, surfing whenever "Surf's up," and dancing for no apparent reason at all (whether it be on the beach or in some restaurant), really captures teen angst during the sixties. Frankie Avalon shines as "Frankie," the glossy-haired, young, ambitious, and maybe a little naive, leader of the beach gang. His counterpart, "Dee Dee," played by Annette Funicello, gave an Oscar-caliber performance. Through a heartbreaking scene that opens with Frankie surfing at night, Dee Dee loses Frankie to an older, richer woman. During the entire film, when I wasn't laughing hysterically at the shear absurdity or chuckling over the image of a producer actually signing on to such golden garbage, I was cheering for Annette. Why Frankie ever decided to ditch his one true love is a mystery. Also noteworthy is Don Rickles' performance as a man-breeder, Buddy Hackett's role as the sensible accountant, and an introductory appearance by "Little" Stevie Wonder. This film comes highly recommended.
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After dinosaurs stalked and surfed the glass.
copper196323 October 2006
A tidal wave of a surprise here: Director William Asher, on hiatus from the television show "Bewitched," delivers a tightly packed surf romp. Very interesting twist: "Little" Stevie Wonder appears and sings two songs, one with surf-guitar guru, Dick Dale--and his Dell Tones. Cowabonga. And that's not all. Frankie Avalon is the hero and he smokes. And it's pot! (Watch closely for this.) Groovy. He also sings and swings with a bevy of beauties in Morey Amsterdam's coffee house. But the biggest surprise for me was the performance by Buddy Hackett. Controlled. Sympathetic. How many times have you left the living room screaming after viewing Hackett, sometimes wearing a god awful-looking Neru jacket and maybe appearing on "Hollywood Squares" or the "Tonight Show, talking some totally incomprehensible nonsense that he thinks is funny? Plenty. But here he plays his role straight and it pays off. And in spades, too. Wannabe Bond Girl Lucianna Paluzzi, always underrated in my opinion, is superb as the spoiled "Contessa." She nails the tiresome, hoary part with an effusive zest for life. Down on the beach, the enemy is massing for battle. The muscle men have a cranky leader in Don Rickles. He is clever and devious, but the strong men fall squarely into the "knucklehead" category. Strangely, one fellow resembles Kevin James from "King of Queens" on the boob tube. Donna Loren, always a joy and no relation to Sophia, wails the title tune. She has a soulful sound and a much better "clause" in her contract than superstar Annette Funichello. How else could you explain the fact that Loren doesn't have to sport a swimsuit? Funichello has to model a sexy, white mesh-bikini. So enjoy the sun and music. And away we go all you surfers and beach bunnies. Surf's up!
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On the Menu: Steamed Muscles over Italian Pasta tossed in Suntan Oil served with Dr. Pepper
Poseidon-325 October 2004
No one sits down (or should sit down) to a Beach Party film expecting anything high-brow or even challenging. These are the epitome of fluff, corniness and escapism. Title credits play out over a kooky, mildly amusing drawing of various caricatures soaking up the sun and sand then the stars of the film (Avalon and Funicello) and their cronies are shown en route to the beach. Immediately, it's clear how times have changed as the teens are crammed into old-time convertibles with more than a few of the kids hanging onto the sides or backs of the vehicles with nary a seatbelt in sight! Without even stopping off to the bathroom to brush their teeth, the kids set up their patchwork of sleeping bags on the floor of the hacienda (with a couple of hanging blankets separating the girls from the boys!) As the gaggle of kids begins to surf and sun themselves into heaven, a parade of beefy, tan, oily bodybuilders comes out to strut their stuff. When the coach (Rickles) steps on one of the beach bums' towels, a rivalry is kicked off with one of the teens (Ashley) unwillingly providing the demarcation line of the beach with his behind! From a fancy yacht anchored offshore, heiress Paluzzi sets her sights on the most prime slab of body-building beef (Lupus) and enlists her helper (Hackett) to secure him for her. Before she can even recover from an evening in the considerable arms of Lupus, however, she's already moved on to scrawny, but cute Avalon, much to Funicello's dismay. From here, things get increasingly complicated (and silly) as the film builds to an all-out fracas at Amsterdam's night club. Naturally, it all works out in the end with everyone winding up happy. Interspersed with the shenanigans are several musical numbers, some better than others. Various songs come out of people's mouths while their sitting on the wide open beach, yet they sound like they were recorded in the bottom of a steel barrel. Avalon is as tan and boyishly handsome as ever, even if his character can sometimes be a real lout. Funicello has a few amusingly indignant moments as she lays into Paluzzi for stealing her man. Oh, and her hair moves once or twice during the course of the film, too. Paluzzi (at about the 12 minute mark on her 15 minutes of fame) gets to wear a few fun 60's get-ups and tries to inject a little feeling into her man-eating role. Fans of Rickles and Hackett may derive some pleasure out of seeing them in action. Rickles seems to get more opportunities to mug here than Hackett. There's a lot of eye candy for both men and women. Lupus and his muscular friends are often seen in TIGHT satin shorts and Ashley is always cute. Funicello wears a mesh two piece that shows why IL' Walt Disney was nervous to let her be seen in a bikini. No one anywhere, ever, danced like Johnson. She goes bananas in a couple of fringed outfits. The camera lingers occasionally on some healthy, nubile young bodies in motion. These films can provide some real surprises now that a little time has passed. For one thing, everyone assumes that these flicks are squeaky clean, and they are, but Avalon is shown smoking (Smoking!) Also, the lily white cast really tears into Paluzzi with all sorts of slurs towards her Italian background, continuously referring to pasta and pizza where she's concerned.

Then there's the ungodly product placement, which many people feel is a more modern hazard of the cinema. Every other frame has someone drinking or standing next to Dr. Pepper! As for the music, Wonder does an admirable job in his first film appearance, but everything that comes out of Dale's mouth is worthless. He can't sing and has no charisma at all. Future celebs Nader and Haggarty can be glimpsed in the beach and bodybuilder scenes, respectively. Lorre had intended to appear in the next Beach Party sequel but died before he could do so.
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Weak Muscles
Squonk14 June 1999
Despite it's title, "Muscle Beach Party" is a pretty weak entry in Beach Party series. This time around, Frankie, Annette and the gang battle with a group of Muscle men led by their trainer, Don Rickles. All the while, an Italian Countess is trying to steal Frankie from Annette. Unlike the others in the series, "Muscle Beach Party" seems to have an overall negative tone. Every character seems angry at somebody. Most of the film's good moments belong to Buddy Hackett. Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper isn't around this time and he is missed.
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Losing Some of its Zipper
wes-connors30 August 2007
Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello witness the invasion of their beach - by a troupe of "Muscle Men" being trained by Don Rickles (as Jack Fanny). Buddy Hackett (as S. Z. Matts) wants "Muscle Man" Peter Lupus (using the name Rock Stevens) for his wealthy client Luciana Paluzzi (as Judy), but she gets a hankerin' for Frankie...

The soundtrack songs are a highlight, appropriately sounding like Brian Wilson's Beach Boys; moreover, Frankie and Annette are joined by Dick Dale and Stevie Wonder. Morey Amsterdam should have been retained as a series regular. The Eric Von Zipper motorcycle gang is missing. The regular players are still fresh, but the elements are not up to par, relatively speaking. It's a fair "Beach Party" film; obviously, it's not as good as the first.

*** Muscle Beach Party (3/25/64) William Asher ~ Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Don Rickles
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A slight step back from the original
Skragg10 July 2006
Maybe it's for the obvious reason - no Eric Von Zipper and his Rats and Mice, with the strange substitution of bodybuilders as the bad guys - but I think of this one as a slight step down from the others. (At least it had Alberta Nelson, in a different part.) Until reading the listing here, I never recognized Dan Haggerty, without the long hair and beard. I did recognize the bodybuilder named Larry Scott, thanks to countless comic book ads. This movie had Luciana Paluzzi as the heiress who collects men - the only small problem for me is that, I've always typecast that actress as a "femme fatale" of the physically dangerous kind (instead of that kind), because of the Bond movie Thunderball. One strange thing is that the Delores character hurls some mild anti-Italian remarks at that character - I know I'm talking about "Delores", not "Annette", but it's still strange to hear those lines from someone named Funicello. And of course this one goes for just a little seriousness, unlike the others - "Frankie" as a kept man! Maybe the best one-time character was Buddy Hackett's. And I couldn't say enough about Don Rickles, in any role.
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My favorite beach movie
funkyfry28 August 2003
There's a lot of reasons this is my favorite beach party film: Don Rickles, John Ashley, Buddy Hackett, Dick Dale, Morey Amsterdam -- all the best elements are here. Add into that a bizarre cameo by horror legend Peter Lorre, who plays an aryan superman (???), and you have quite a mix! Good, clean fun, suitable for anyone, and suitably strange for a modern party. I'm a big sucker for Don Rickles' comedy, so maybe that's why I like this one so much, but it's even zanier than "Beach Party", so only "Beach Blanket Bingo" comes close for me in this series.
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Weakest of the Beach Parties
moonmonday27 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Let me start by saying that I do love the 'beach party' genre, brief as it was. Honestly though, I prefer the later films, featuring Deborah Walley and Tommy Kirk, and Muscle Beach Party is one that really shows the clumsiness of the earlier entries in the series.

Beach Party wasn't that great, but it was a lot better than Muscle Beach Party manages; the first film had a pretty winning group brought together and kept things light, but Muscle inexplicably removes von Zipper and his bikers, substituting musclemen instead who, for a filmsy reason, are enemies to the surfers. Except only a small group of them. You have Don Rickles looking like he doesn't know what he's doing there, Candy Johnson who saves the day with her energetic dancing (but AIP were too cheap to spring for a speaking part, which makes her seem affected), and a Peter Lupus very new to acting. The Del-Tones have a unique part as a band that actually lingers, instead of popping up for a single number and never being seen again, and the lead has a speaking role. Shame they couldn't spring for one for Candy.

Then you have Frankie and Annette, playing Frankie and Dee-Dee again. But you have to wonder why Dee-Dee even came to the beach; she's such a wet blanket, there's literally no way anyone would stay with her. The script fails both leads and makes fickle Julie seem like the most compelling and fun member of the cast, which of course is disappointing since she gets treated the worst. Frankie reflects a passion perhaps a bit naive but respectable enough, and Dee-Dee fails to support him, then sings a song about how a boy needs a girl whom she fails to realise is exactly what she isn't. The rest of the gang aren't any better, and whenever they interact with the two, it smacks of 'because the script said so', as none of them are allowed to have even the slightest personality that they showed in most all of the other films.

Muscle tries to get serious and ends up depressing, because it does that right when it shouldn't and ends up ruining the lighthearted feel and the jokes that tried to follow the attempts at seriousness. The jokes aren't really all that funny though, especially in comparison to the other films in the series, and overall there are just too many clumsy scenes that go on for far too long and make almost everyone involved look terrible. The only characters who give any joy at all are Candy, with her exuberant (though curiously silent) dancing and Peter Lorre, who is a pleasure to see even in the microscopic cameo he's given.

If you really feel you have to see all of the beach party films, this is definitely not where to start. Turn it on and tune out, because nothing amounts to anything -- while that may be true of the other films too, they're at least a fun ride. This one, like the prolonged fight sequence that brings it to its end, simply overstays its welcome and doesn't seem to have an idea that it's lingering awkwardly and in a way that isn't very entertaining.
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Muscle Beach Party (1964) *1/2
JoeKarlosi2 January 2009
I wouldn't think you could go far wrong with both Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett, but I was mistaken. Rickles plays an unfunny coach who never gets any laughs while he works with a group of oily muscle men (that may be your thing; it's not mine). Hackett (whom I don't believe I've ever seen looking so trim and normal) is no more than the aide to a rich heiress (Luciana Paluzzi) who sets her sights on Frankie Avalon, much to the disapproval of his girl Annette Funicello. All the vignettes going on herein are disjointed and tiresome, and Candy Johnson (who reminds me of a young Polly Holiday from the ALICE TV series) isn't as alluring as she thinks she is when regularly shaking her booty and causing men to freeze-frame and fall off their surfboards... and not even having the indecency to wear a bikini while doing it. John Ashley is present too. Don't ask me what the point of having Morey Amsterdam in this mess was. Peter Lorre pops in for a short time in a humorous cameo, and at the end we get to enjoy the very young Little Stevie Wonder do his stuff, but it's not enough. It's not very often you can say the end credits sequence is the best thing about a film, but that was the case here. *1/2 out of ****
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best of this genre
senorsilencio30 April 2014
Just began watching as a goof, was expecting to lose interest. But ended up being well entertained by the goofy surfer tomfoolery, Italian muscle-man star. the Contessa was well played. Anette was disappointing but Frankie was in good form. The appearance of Stevie wonder singing "clap your hands" sealed the deal. Don Rickles is always a cool presence. And there was even a surprise appearance of Peter Lorre at the end. Of course I ended up fast forwarding through several boring musical numbers but having the power to ignore the boring parts gave the rest of the movie high praise from me for being pretty entertaining. Peace
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A pretty stupid corny movie
randy_kay21 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I like to watch old 60's movies for weirdo nostalgic reasons; the old cars, sets, musical instruments etc., usually I can stomach the shallow plots and bad acting but this one's just too much, it's just dumb plus I've never been able to stand Don Rickles. Buddy Hackett's also kind of annoying. The plot is so bad they've written in a girl who whenever she dances she shakes really fast and guys fall off their surfboards and the movie run backwards so they fly out of the water and back onto their boards, that kind of retarded thing so they actually had to put in novelties like that because they knew how lame the movie was. They used the shaky girl twice, once on the beach and once in a bar scene, how stupid. Actually, this movie is a lot like one of those Elvis Presley beach movies, very similar. Somebody said this was made by the same guy who did Bewitched. IMO, an episode of Bewitched is far more entertaining than this film which isn't saying much.
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A Weak Entry in the Series
Sargebri17 March 2004
This has to be the weakest entry in the entire series. Even though the muscle heads make great adversaries for our favorite beach bums they aren't as interesting as Eric Von Zipper and his gang, the Rats. The main story has been done a thousand times in many other pictures. Also, the music in this film isn't as good as it was. Dick Dale's scenes are a waste and the rest of the songs are just filler. One saving grace for this film is Don Rickles.

He really is the one saving grace of this film. To me the next two films in the series, "Bikini Beach" and "Beach Blanket Bingo", were much better than this one. However, this film isn't as bad as the final Avalon/Funicello film in the series, "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini".
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dsavage-212 February 2007
I taped this hoping to be something to show my high school video classics students. But while watching it, maybe I will call it "What NOT to watch as a classic". I think they made some better ones, than this one, I am just not sure which one those are. Annette was cute. Frankly is hot. It was fun to see some of the stars when they were so much younger. Buddy Hackett and Stevie Wonder, wow that was a while ago. I never did figure out who the girl in the white frilly dress was thou? I laughed at how silly it was at times. I then realized that this was the extent of comedy at that time. So all and all it was OK. I would not put it on my top 100 but it was fun to watch.
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Perfectly silly member of perfectly series of '60's Beach Party Movies
wsteinberg-116 August 2004
Some funny stuff to be sure. Plenty of cleavage for you Annettte F. fans of which I am certainly one. Don Wrickles and Buddy Hacket are their over the top classics. Peter Lorre has a sizable cameo as the Boss, and strongest man in the world and is a lot of fun. But the best thing about this movie by far is the appearance both within the film, in a live performance, and then in the extended for its time end credit of a teenaged Stevie Wonder. And he is incredible. Worth renting this just for those two peeks at what was to become an icon. In the end credit you see him dancing up a storm as well as playing several instruments including drums and bongos opposite the swivel-hipped Candy from the movie. Great Suff.
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Second not quite as good.
suelyon8 January 1999
A tribe of muscle men invade the surfer's beach. A countess falls in love with the tallest and biggest "Mr.Galaxy".But, when she sees Frankie,its love. Frankie and Annette fight over his irresponsible lifestyle and when the countess encourages him to be wild, he begins to like her.When she hears him sing, she sets up a recording contract for him.But all his friends are mad.(Some Friends!!!) So,he drops the countess and goes back to Annette. Annette sings "A Girl Needs a Boy" in this one.
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Decent Follow Up to Beach Party
Michael_Elliott29 May 2016
Muscle Beach Party (1964)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Frankie (Frankie Avalon), Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) and the gang show up to their beach when they realize that a trainer (Ddon Rickles) has his muscle men training on it. Not only does the gang have to worry about this but rich girl Julie (Luciana Paluzzi) has her eyes set on Frankie.

MUSCLE BEACH PARTY was the second film in the series and I honestly couldn't say if it was any better or worse than BEACH PARTY. It's clear that neither film is Oscar-worthy but both of them do a decent enough job appealing to the intended target. That target was of course teenagers spending their weekends at a local drive in.

As with the first film, this one has a fairly simple plot, which gets a few simple laughs throughout the running time. Both Avalon and Funicello are good enough in their roles and while neither delivers an excellent performance they're at least appealing enough. Rickles brings some entertainment as the whistle-blowing coach and Paluzzi and John Ashley are good as well.

MUSCLE BEACH PARTY isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but it's a decent time killer for fans of the series.
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Needed More Beach, Less Muscle
tehck24 December 2015
I'm just a few years younger than the original intended audience for the Frankie and Annette movies, but I have always been amused by them. However, as others have said, this is easily the weakest of them all. The biggest problem is that it spends far too much time focused on peripheral characters and events that have nothing to do with the beach or even Frankie and the gang. Instead we get long stretches of Don Rickles and his crew of shirtless body builders just acting stupid. Evidently someone in charge either meant to pander to the gay audience (in 1964?) or thought that teen girls would be fascinated by all that oiled, tanned, rippling maleness. However, this element was mostly just weird.

Perhaps even weirder was the duo of Luciana Paluzzi and Buddy Hackett as a young, widowed Italian countess and her major domo, or whatever Hackett is supposed to be. There's nothing wrong with their performances when considered in isolation (indeed, it's perhaps the most restrained performance of Hackett's career). It's just that neither has any business in this movie. Besides, Lucianna's role as a sexual predator who is looking to recruit new boy toys seems really odd in a series that is mostly as chaste as driven snow. However, this movie had a number of more adult-themed moments, not least of which was Annette's extended session rubbing suntan oil on Frankie's back, which is far more sensuous than one might expect here, especially if you turn off the sound.

Probably the best example of everything wrong with this movie can be seen in the multiple scenes of dialogue between Hackett and Rickles. Here you had two of the most iconic stand-up comics of the era, both famous for their improvisational skills and well known for their particular individual schticks. Indeed, we might have expected these two to go to war, each trying to one-up the other with insults and outrageous energy. Instead, they stick to a dull, unimaginative script that made no effort to play to either man's strengths. Indeed, you could just as easily have put Fred McMurray and Vincent Price in those scenes with the same effect -- boring.

Of course, music is usually at the center of these films, and this one offered several numbers. But like everything else, they were flat (with the notable exception of 12 year-old Stevie Wonder's appearance). Annette sings one of the worst songs I've ever heard (although I could see her styling as the inspiration for David Lynch's favorite crooner Julie Cruz and her weird warblings), and Frankie later echoes it with only slightly better results. Then Dick Dale and The Del Tones appear, and Dale proves to be even more tone deaf than Funicello. The band was okay, but its eponymous front man was incredibly bad.

So, more bikinis, more surfers, and maybe even Eric Von Zipper would have vastly improved this entry in the venerable AIP series. Like the melody of Annette's song, the movie just wandered around without anything anchoring its center or guiding it in a coherent direction. For some reason, this one was just released on Blu-Ray. Hopefully Beach Blanket Bingo or Bikini Beach will also appear to remind viewers of how much fun this series could be.
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Wasn't Nearly as Good as "Beach Party"
Uriah4321 August 2014
"Frankie" (Frankie Avalon), "Dee Dee" (Annette Funicello") and the other characters who make up the surfer gang are back in this sequel to "Beach Party". Sharing the beach is a group of bodybuilders led by their trainer, "Jack Fanny" (Don Rickles) who has little regard for those who aren't part of his team. Also interested in a particular bodybuilder is an extremely rich and beautiful countess by the name of "Julie" (Luciana Paluzzi) who wants "Mr. Galaxy" (Peter Lupus) for her very own. Yet, just when she manages to buy the entire bodybuilding team she just happens to hear Frankie sing and everything suddenly changes as she quickly forgets all about Mr. Galaxy and falls madly in love with Frankie instead. But before Julie can get Frankie she has to first contend with Dee Dee. At any rate, rather than reveal any more of the story I will just say that this particular movie wasn't nearly as good as "Beach Party". For starters, other than the performances of Frankie, Annette, Luciana and possibly Buddie Hackett (as Julie's manager, "S.Z. Matts") there really wasn't anything that remarkable about this film. Clearly, the inordinate amount of time spent on "Candy" (Candy Johnson) didn't help in that regard as she didn't add anything new or different than her previous appearance. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen a bit more of Valera Noland (as "Animal") or a couple of other attractive ladies. But that's just my opinion. In any case, I rate the movie as slightly below average.
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Sand, Sinew and American International
redryan644 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
DRIVE IN MOVIES, Saturday nights and American-International Pictures all contributed to the genesis of this particular genre of teen-age formula comedies. Extreme frugality, quick production schedules and the carefully calculated selection of casts, all made for an assured profit margin.

THE CAST MEMBERS, in particular, were a very important commodity in the success of one of these productions. The rosters were a mixed bag of the over the hill and the up and coming. Comic relief was supplied by the likes of Buster Keaton, Buddy Hackett and Don Rickles; but not in the same film. That would only serve to bloat budgets.

THE SERIES OF comedies featuring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon seemingly being eternally at the Beach,had essayed many a situation; when the idea struck someone that there could be a yet another installment of the Beach Saga. This time it would center on Muscle Beach and members of the Bodybuilding Fraternity.*

AS FOR THE 'plot', we can only say that it's paper thin and exists to move the action to the next set-up of gags. So, It rapidly goes from huge, sandy dance ensembles, to surfing, bodybuilding and to the obligatory bad guys. Nothing really "Classic", but at least mildly amusing, albeit old and obvious.

AS FOR THE handling of the Bodybuilding and its Practicioners, we must launch a formal protest.

WHILE THE ATHLETIC Activity known as Competitive Bodybuilding would make a definite move toward the mainstream with PUMPINHG IRON (1977), in 1964 it was still viewed as being a sort of sub-culture phenomenon. It was even less understood than today, with the Bodybuilders' being categorized as narcissistic, homosexual, muscle bound beach athletes.

THE HANDLING OF the participation weight men only added to any misconceptions that the public may have had. Moving mutely on command, the impression is that these strength athletes were intellectually the equivalent of a trained seal or that of a robot.

NOTE: Paramount Pictures' BACK TO THE BEACH (Paramount, 1987) neatly parodies this "genre" and even stars Annette & Frankie; as well as a slough of Guest Stars.
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Surfers Get Invaded by Body Builders
bkoganbing15 February 2012
Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello certainly had one of the rockiest romances ever on screen. It seems in every film someone is either cutting in with one or both of them. Muscle Beach Party is certainly no exception.

In fact the whole beach crowd is being crowded by this gang of body builders who've got a gym at the beach that is managed by Don Rickles and his silent partner, reputed to be the strongest man in the world.

The beach is even getting more attention as rich Italian princess Luciana Paluzzi and her business manager Buddy Hackett are scoping out the beach for one particular muscle dude, Peter Lupus. Lupus is the self proclaimed Mr. Galaxy and one look at him is enough for any heart to skip a beat. But Luciana skips two beats when she hears Frankie Avalon sing.

I think you can see where this one is going especially if you've seen any of the beach films before this. Add to this Morey Amsterdam as a loopy club owner, Dick Turgeon as Paluzzi's attorney who can't close a deal and the mysterious and unbilled Peter Lorre.

One thing I do have to say, does anyone really believe that Frankie and his surfers would stand any chance going head to head with the bodybuilders?
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"I'm seein' it. and I'm feelin' it, but I don't believe it!"
classicsoncall27 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
My summary line above pretty much says it all about "Muscle Beach Party", and quite honestly I think, for the entire beach movie genre. Not that I'm an expert, the only other one I've seen is "Beach Blanket Bingo", but it strikes me that this is the kind of film that's fascinating in the same kind of way as a major head on collision on the interstate that you have to slow down for so you don't miss any of the details. What truly amazes me is how you can put Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett and Morey Amsterdam in the same picture and still wind up with something totally less than entertaining. I guess you had to be there, but I guess my hormones still hadn't kicked in at thirteen.

Frankie and Annette of course were the only reasons to even consider catching these flicks for good money back in the day. I don't know if it happened in any of the other pictures in the series, but I was surprised to see Frankie kissing another girl (Lucianna Paluzzi) here; it was a good thing he made it up to Dee Dee (Funicello) later with that impassioned speech at the café. However just like in 'BBB', Annette found it hard to stay in character, getting miffed whenever Julie (Paluzzi) was around, but not batting an eye when Frankie danced with the hot babe in the white shorts and red sweater while ogling her all over the place.

And how about that Candy Johnson - I'd like to know if her jiggle wiggle dance numbers were sped up, but somehow I don't think they were. Have you ever seen such energy without the perpetrator just falling over from making themselves dizzy?

To give some credence to the story, there was a neat lineup of muscle men with names like Hulk, Biff, Riff, Sulk, Tug, Rock, and Clod. In another picture they might have been the seven dwarfs, but they were just a little bit over-sized here. Good old Peter Lupus did the honors as Mister Galaxy, using his sword and sandal name of Rock Stevens in the credits. I was surprised to see Larry Scott's name in the cast because I didn't recognize him, and he went on to become the first Mr. Olympia just one year later in 1965. If I could catch his scenes without watching the whole picture again I would, but that's not likely.

And say what! - Little Stevie Wonder in his very first screen appearance, and he was still 'little' as it were - fourteen years old!!! His was about the most professional appearance in the picture, which says a lot about everybody else.

And oh yes, just as I couldn't get over the fact that Charlie Chaplin did a bit in 'Bingo', here was the legendary Peter Lorre turning up as a character named Dr. Strangedour. He called himself the 'strongest man in the world', and to appear in this picture, I guess he had to be.
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MUSCLE BEACH PARTY (William Asher, 1964) **
Bunuel197623 July 2008
This proved to be the first "Beach Party" entry I watched, actually the second of the 7-movie series: I guess it has all the required elements – teenage boys and girls, their interaction/clashing with other members of society (in this case, aristocracy and muscle-men!), surf, songs, and even a touch of the bizarre (in the mysterious but erratic figure of Mr. Strangdour and his monstrous henchman).

The tone is that of a light romantic comedy with the expected evocative beach setting (though much of the surfing that's seen is actually stock footage!). What little plot there is concerns an Italian princess (a fresh-faced and appealing Luciana Paluzzi) looking for a prospective groom – first, she settles on a muscle-bound winner of the "Mr. Galaxy" title, but then draws her attentions over to idle teen (as opposed to teen idol!) Frankie Avalon who happens to be able to carry a tune. This, however, doesn't sit well with his wholesome girlfriend Annette Funicello – which leads to the two kids splitting, and the three factions at constant loggerheads (sometimes within the same camp). While the muscle-men are managed by Don Rickles and Paluzzi has Buddy Hackett for an adviser, the teens' resistible comic relief is provided by the goofy "Deadhead" – played by Jody McCrea (Joel's son!); even worse, they number among them a blonde whose specialty is a literally overwhelming hip-shaking routine (the producers seemed to be particularly fond of this character since she's all over this film, and the one that followed at least!).

The songs are nothing special (though we are introduced to 'Little' Stevie Wonder!) and the climax involves a free-for-all at a club run by the eccentric Morey Amsterdam; however, there's a delightful surprise at the end involving a cameo by none other than Peter Lorre (a device which was retained for future "Beach" installments as well): incidentally, the end credits inform us that Lorre would return for BIKINI BEACH (1964) – but, unfortunately, he was dead by this time…and another great horror star turned up in his place (read my review for that film to find out his identity).
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