|Muscle Beach Party|
|Directed by||William Asher|
|Produced by||Robert Dillon|
James H. Nicholson
|Written by||Robert Dillon|
|Music by||Les Baxter|
|Cinematography||Harold E. Wellman|
|Edited by||Fred R. Feitshans, Jr.|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Budget||$1 million or $150,000|
Muscle Beach Party is the second of seven beach party films produced by American International Pictures. It stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and was directed by William Asher, who also directed four other films in this series.
Frankie, Dee Dee, and the beach party gang hit Malibu Beach for another summer of surfing and no jobs only to find their secret surfing spot threatened by a gang of bodybuilders, led by the dim-witted coach Jack Fanny (Don Rickles).
All the while, a bored Italian Countess (Luciana Paluzzi) is trying to steal Frankie from Dee Dee and, much to everyone's surprise, he seems more than happy to go along with it. She's going to turn him into a teen idol, not unlike Frankie Avalon's real-life persona.
Funicello reprises her character from Beach Party, although in this film (and three others that follow) she is referred to as "Dee Dee," as opposed to "Dolores." John Ashley's character, previously called "Ken," is now known as "Johnny." Harvey Lembeck's Eric von Zipper character and his Rats gang from Beach Party are absent in this film, although they appear in Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Lembeck as von Zipper (but sans Rats gang) also appears in a cameo in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Lembeck also appeared in Fireball 500, another Avalon-Funicello vehicle, as an entirely different character. Peter Lorre appears briefly near the end of the film and there is a notice explaining that he will appear in the next installment of the series. Lorre died in March 1964; thus, this was his only appearance in the series.
In the above-cited paperback adaptation, the Jack Fanny character introduces his bodybuilders as Biff, Rock, Tug, Riff, Sulk, Mash and Clod, whereas in the film he calls them Biff, Rock, Tug, Riff, Sulk, Hulk, and Clod. In two separate sequences, the latter version of these names is seen printed on their shirts.
Larry Scott, who played Rock, was well known in the bodybuilding world at the time and became the first Mr. Olympia. Due to his preference for a piece of gym equipment commonly known as the Preacher Bench, the bench also became known as the Scott Curl Bench.Gene Shuey who played Riff, and Chester Yorton who played Hulk, were also well known in the bodybuilding circuit. Peter Lupus (aka "Rock Stevens") was also a champion bodybuilder himself, holding the titles of Mr. Indianapolis, Mr. Indiana, Mr. Hercules, and Mr. International Health Physique. He is best known as Willy Armitage, the strong, mostly silent, member of the IMF team in Mission Impossible from 1966-1973.
The surfboards used in the film were by Phil of Downey, California - aka Phil Sauers, the maker of "Surfboards of the Stars." Sauers was also the stunt coordinator for another beach party film that used his surfboards, Columbia Pictures' Ride the Wild Surf, which was released later the same year. Sauers was even portrayed in that film as a character by Mark LaBuse.
The "globe" telephone cover on Mr. Strangdour's desk is the same one in Norma Desmond's home in the film Sunset Blvd.
The colorful, hand-painted mural that is shown in full and in detail as background during the opening credits is by California artist Michael Dormer, whose surfer cartoon character, "Hot Curl" can also be glimpsed throughout the film.
Although the end titles provide a credit reading, "Muscle Mao Mao Dance Sequence Choreographed by John Monte, National Dance Director, Fred Astaire Studios", no such sequence is found in the film's release prints.
John L. Scott of the Los Angeles Times called it "a romantic, slightly satirical film comedy with songs which should prove popular with members of the two younger sets it concerns -- surfers and musclemen -- and with oldsters who don't mind the juvenile antics."Variety wrote that "the novelty of surfing has worn off, leaving in its wake little more than a conventional teenage-geared romantic farce with songs ... Whenever the story bogs down, which it does quite often, someone runs into camera range and yells, 'surf's up!' This is followed by a series of cuts of surfers in action. It's all very mechanical."The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "Indifferently scripted, and lacking the brightening presence of Dorothy Malone and Bob Cummings, this is an excruciatingly unfunny and unattractive sequel to Beach Party. William Asher's direction remains quite bright, but that is about all that can be said for the film."
The Golden Laurel, which had no ceremony but published its award results in the trade magazine Motion Picture Exhibitor from 1958 to 1971, nominated Annette Funicello for "Best Female Musical Performance" for this film in 1965.
The film was banned in Burma, along with Ski Party, Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo.