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"Bikini Beach" was the 3rd installment of the early 60's Frankie (Avalon) & Annette (Funicello) beach/surfing/bikini movies. Filmed in 1964 it was, like its predecessors, silly and fun but for us it added a very cool twist - drag racing. Keenan Wynn provides the "plot" as a rest home tycoon with a pet ape that surfs, twists, and drives dragsters with the best of them. "Little" Stevie Wonder makes a late appearance and Boris Karloff drops by for a cameo.

 

 

It reunites the old gang (Jody McCrea, John Ashley, Candy Johnson - who once again shimmies through the credits - and Harvey Lembeck as the buffoonish motorcycle gang leader Eric von Zipper) for more summer sun antics. Frankie plays two roles: the sex mad surfer still chasing comely Annette (renamed Dee Dee in this film) and a British singing sensation named Potato Bug, who moves the gang from the beach to the blacktop for a little drag-strip action. The goofy, gap-toothed rocker is supposed to be a spoof of The Beatles but more resembles Terry-Thomas with his pith helmet and "jolly good!" exclamations. Annette sings the title song with Frankie and "This Time It's Love" and "Because You're You".

But for us the cars are the stars. Some of the best dragsters on the planet were gathered at Pomona Raceway for the many drag racing sequences in the movie. Feature cars are Stellings & Hampshire (Red Stamp Car), Greer, Black & Prudhomme and "TV Tommy" Ivo who not only did most of the driving but also supplied two cars - his Barnstormer and 4-engine Showboat. Other cars are the Smog Rat I - Airline Auto Sales, Don Garlits, Safford-Gaide-Ratican, The Frantic 4, The Surfers and more. The bottom line is its 95 minutes of fun.

Below are some stills from the film - enjoy.

 

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Why do you think they named it "Bikini Beach"?

 


 

The film uses some "stock" footage from the 1964 Winternationals. Here is Kenny Safford in the Safford-Gaide-Ratican "Sour Sisters" fueler.

 

 

 


 

Pre-race parade

 

Return-Fire up road

 

"TV Tommy" Ivo pushes back after a pass.

 


 

The Greer-Black-Prudhomme car in its yellow trip sans nose with Keith Black's Ranchero pushing it.

 


 

No brainer here.

 

 


 

The "stock footage" includes a lot of shots that give a great overview of Pomona in 1964. Back then it was actually part of the Pomona Fairgrounds and everything but the timing tower were temporary (including the stands) and removed after an event.

 

 

 

 


 

The Airline Auto Sales "Smog Rat" fueler.

 

 


 

Don Rickels as Big Drag

 


 

The Stellings & Hampshire (Red Stamp car) and Greer-Black-Prudhomme in Big Drag's garage.

 

The gang picks up Frankie's new car from Big Drag.

 

 


 

Potato Bug pulls into Bikini Beach Drag Strip with his "Brittanica" (Stellings & Hampshire) fueler.

 

Potato Bug (Jeep Hampshire) does a push start for his "record run".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you know what you're looking at - this is NOT Frankie Avalon but Jeep Hampshire, the real driver of the S&H car.

 

Annette and Potato Bug after his big run.

 

 


 

In one sequence of the film Tommy Ivo's famed "Showboat" is featured when Harvey Huntington Honeywagon III (Keenan Wynn) proves his point that "even a monkey can drive a dragster." Of course we all know that's not true - actually Ivo was in the firesuit. On second thought.....

 

Only in "Hollywood" - a flag start AND a Christmas tree.

 

 

 

20" feet out and all four hides are lit.

 

 

 

 

After the "record run" the ape climbs out to pose for photos and get his trophy. Right.

 


 

These shots of the GBP and S&H cars were used in the Theatrical Trailer but never made the actual film.

 

 


 

Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck ) and some of his Ratz set out to sabotage Potato Bug's digger prior to his big race with Frankie.

 


 

 

Ivo's "Barnstormer" and the GBP car square off.

 

 

 


 

I did mention this was called Bikini Beach, didn't I? The green dragster is Pete Millar’s “Intruder” and the yellow car is Airline Auto Sales.

 


 

The big "drama" in the film occurs when Potato Bug and Frankie square off for bragging rights as Bikini Beach Drag Strip champ and Dee Dee (Annette). The "race" starts out with Frankie in "Fridea" (Greer-Black-Prudhomme) and Potato Bug in "Brittanica" (Stellings & Hampshire).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avalon as Potato Bug

 

 

Avalon as Frankie

 

 

 

Check out the background - can you say, no stands? No nobody.

 

The Vipe, throttle closed, does some driving (for the onboard and remote cameras) on the top end.

 

 

 

 

 

Last shot of the GBP car - we now go to this Potvin car for the start of the crash sequence (below).

 

 

 

Potato Bug (Jeep) sees Frankie is in trouble.

 

 

 

Jeep exits car - cut to Avalon saving Avalon...

 

We now have the third car in the crash sequence.

Note: This car is the Dave Bergman & Jack Germann SBC Chevy fueler that Willie Germann (Jack's brother) crashed at San Fernando, a short time before the movie was filmed (photo below). As you can see, they didn't have to do much to make it film ready ,,, just haul the remains to Pomona, cover it with gas, install the stunt man and light the match.

 

 

 

 

Note quick change rearend. If I didn't know better I'd guess this is the Shubert & Herbert car.

 

 

 

 


 

After he's busted for rigging Frankie's digger, von Zipper jumps in a go-cart and the chase is on.

 

The Weekly-Rivero-Fox-Holding, Frantic 4 fueler provides an obstacle for the chase.

 

 

Big Drag gets in on the act and as you can guess, the chase ends at the Big Drag Bar with great rock n roll from Stevie Wonder.

 

This is probably the best of the "Beach Party" films. The series pretty much hit its peak here and after this it was all downhill. Annette Funicello is her level headed best and Frankie Avalon is still her lunkheaded boyfriend who only can think about surfing. The thing I think is a little ironic about this film is the fact that Avalon in his portrayal of Potato Bug takes a swipe at The Beatles. Many forget that Avalon was one of the hottest singers in America until the "Fab Four" arrived the same year this film was released. After that it was downhill from there. The other shining moment in this film has to belong to Harvey Lembeck as the perpetually dimwitted leader Eric Von Zipper. This was his defining role and this film was his funniest yet.

 

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