This is the eighth in The Retro Set’s weekly summer series taking a look at beach party movies of yore from guest writer Danny Reid.
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini: Stuff It
“Dig that wild bikini!”
“It ain’t nothin’ without the stuffin’.”
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is a weird offshoot of AIP’s Beach Party series. It has most of the same characters that we’ve followed from Beach Party onwards (who have all undergone a name or actor change at least once by this point save for Frankie), but all awkwardly stuck in the film as the window dressing. The surf music craze was dying out and integrated musicals– where the music relates to the plot of the movie– were coming into vogue. The main concern is the romance between Dee Dee and a new guy, and the comedic stylings of Mickey Rooney. Neither is very satisfying.
Buster Keaton plays the witch doctor (don’t ask) who works his magic in trade for some of Frankie’s torpedo juice and sends a black magic woman named Cassandra (Beverly Adams) back to the beach to keep the crew distracted from Dee Dee. Unfortunately, Keaton’s juju malfunctions and the suave businessman Ricky (Dwayne Hickman) sneaks through and begins to chase after Dee Dee, who is more than a little upset when she realizes that Frankie is being waited on hand and foot by the island girls.
Meanwhile, because the Beach Party series invested heavily in inane subplots as it went on, Cassandra accidentally becomes involved in an advertising campaign spearheaded by “Peachy” Keane (Mickey Rooney) heavily promoting her as ‘The Girl Next Door’. Apparently, she has to actually win the title by coming in first in a cross country motorcycle race. She elects to bring along Von Zipper (Lembeck again) who has doffed a bowler and suit to try and prove that he can be ‘the boy next door’. They race against Dee Dee and Ricky, and you can imagine who the victor is in that one. It’s pretty cartoonish again, but director William Asher’s inspirations are running thin at this point and its just a series of gags that were probably done better on “Wacky Races”.
Avalon, who is in the movie for five minutes, tops, is about as checked out as you can be. Funicello isn’t much better even if she is the central character this go around, as she lacks any chemistry with Hickman. She’s also fully clothed the entire movie, including while she was on the beach– apparently she was pregnant at the time, so she’s definitely in full doughy mode. Her couple of numbers aren’t bad, but nothing to write home about.
That describes a lot of the film. The beach is only present for the first few musical numbers before everyone runs inland for motor bike racing and corporate shenanigans. There’s no real substance to it, just a lot of lingo and some pleasant enough songs. It’s a whimper of an ending to the series, with the regulars barely present, the songs all measly, and the central romance stamped with a built in expiration. How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is a weird kind of non-entity downer.
Best & Worst Attributes
- Best song – Since all the music is integrated, it becomes kind of an indistinct mass of mush. Thus the titular track (and the first track) is one of the only memorable, if only for its chanted and oh-so-sexist vibes.
- Best C.C. Baxter impression – This guy, for sure.
- Best moment to imagine no one is wearing pants – This one.
- Worst use of rear projection – Many of the beach scenes with Annette and Dwayne walking in front of the waves are the two really, painfully obviously walking in place. And there’s no surfing this go around, either.
- And the moral of the story is… Pbbbbfffft. I got nothing.
The film is available on Amazon. Here’s the trailer:
Next week: A Swingin’ Summer (1965)