Blu-ray Review: Beach Blanket Bingo

Critics will claim that all the Beach Party films featuring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are the same movie with a different title. This is a lie. Each film has it’s own unique plot twist. There’s something at their core that allows you to say, “You mean the beach party movie where Frankie, Annette and the gang do…?” Case in point is Beach Blanket Bingo. This was the fourth of the five core Beach Party films. This was the one your UHF channel would run Thursday. But which one is it? Beach Blanket Bingo is the one with skydiving and mermaids.

Frankie, Annette and the gang become part of Paul Lynde’s promotional push for new singer Sugar Kane (Dynasty‘s Linda Evans). First he has her parachute out of a plane to land in the water near the gang. Frankie rescues her. But it is Eric Von Zipper (Sgt. Bilko‘s Harvey Lembeck) who falls hard for the sweet voiced Sugar. He and his biker gang won’t rest until he’s made her his old lady.

What’s interesting about BBB is that John Ashley is no longer one of the gang. He’s running a skydiving school with Deborah Walley (Gidget Goes to Hawaii). They’re out to become swingers with Frankie and Annette. But the wholesome duo aren’t ready to embrace the swinging sixties. One person willing to get a little freaky is Bonehead (Jody McCrea). He had previously be called Deadhead, but AIP had his name changed since they were about to make Sgt. Deadhead with Frankie. Bonehead gets saved from drowning by what he thinks is Sugar.Turns out that the blond who pulled him from a watery grave was a mermaid (Lost In Space‘s Marta Kristen). Can they make their relationship work outside the waves? A giant highlight is getting to see Don Rickles and Paul Lynde work off each other. They are comic heavyweights as they attempt to steal scenes from each other. The big ending involves South Dakota Slim (Paths of Glory‘s Timothy Carey) try to cut an actress in half using a buzzsaw.

Beach Blanket Bingo is not a clone of Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach or How to Stuff A Wild Bikini. None of those movies featured sky diving or mermaid. All five films did contain plenty of good clean fun with single kids being pals at the beach. There was plenty of songs, musical numbers and an attempt to have an older star interact with the new young faces. For Beach Blanket Bingo, we get Buster Keaton chasing around a girl in a bikini. Some may view this as degrading of a great Hollywood star. Buster looks like he’s enjoying his game of chase with Bobbi Shaw. Fun is what matters in a beach film from AIP. Beach Blanket Bingo came out just in time for Spring Break 1965. This wasn’t just a movie, it was a preview of the summer fun to come.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the details of the skydiving fun. There are a few parts of the film that has schmutz on the frame. The audio is DTS-MA Mono. You’ll hear all the pop songs from Linda Evans and others.

Trailer promises more party fun at the beach.

Beach Blanket Bingo takes Frankie and Annette to the sky above the beach. The fourth installment of the beach party series offers plenty of summer fun.

Olive Films presents Beach Blanket Bingo. Directed by: William Asher. Written by: Leo Townsend, Sher Townsend & William Asher. Starring: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Linda Evans and Don Rickles. Running Time: 98 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: February 17, 2015.


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