The world of Surf Party is a world of long ago. It's a world where teenagers look as if they are going on 30 and the guys dress in casual shirts and slacks. The girls wear their hair in elaborate styles even when they are - decorously - in bed. At parties you drink coke or - if you are very daring - beer, and the music is provided by groups of four or five polite looking boys playing guitar, drums and saxophone and bobbing up and down in a most stilted manner. And it's a world where actors and actresses who are playing teens with a yen for surfing, do not allow themselves to be seen dripping wet, but are filmed from the waist upwards gently swaying against a background of the sea. And it's a world of black and white - strictly no colour.
Surf Party is a relatively short movie of little more than 60 minutes. The plot is comfortably simple - three nice gals from Phoenix drive to California, to see the brother of one of the girls and to have a good time by the sea. The brother is the leader of a bad gang of surfers - bad in the sense that they swear (not on screen) and make a lot of noise, surf the wrong side of the pier, and are followed around a lot by an officious policeman. Other guys are nice but dim (Bobby Vinton) or nice but wimpish (the guy who ends up with Jackie DeShannon). Someone gets hurt while surfing; there's a fight; the gals fall in and out of love; and then they go home to Phoenix, wiser and all a tad more experienced.
Sex? None to speak of, although there's some pretty radical full-on lip kissing. Surfing? A little, in the distance. Scenery? Well, the black and white beach could be anywhere - looks to me a bit like Llandudno (that's a place in Wales for you non-UK readers).
But actually it's a simple, harmless and fun movie. Jackie plays a character called Junior. She doesn't get a lot of acting to do but does what she has to do, quite nicely. She puts loads of energy into Glory Wave, the only known gospel-surfing song as someone once said, and the musical highlight of the film. She falls out of her hammock convincingly and looks cute in a black one-piece swimming costume. She kisses the wimpish blond guy and at one point wears a most peculiar hat. Other people in the film are Bobby Vinton, Patricia Morrow, Kenny Miller, Lory Patrick, the Astronauts and the Routers. Bobby Vinton's song is very corny and he looks quite embarrassed, which is to his credit.
And that's all I can say. I've waited 36 years to see it since it appeared in 1965, and I'm pleased to have found it at long last. Jackie DeShannon's fans will want to own it.
Surf Party can be ordered from The Video Beat via their website www.thevideobeat.com, or offline at The VIDEO BEAT! 425 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 USA. Tell them the Jackie DeShannon Appreciation Society sent you.
Since publishing the above, we have received the following kind offer from Chuck at Video Beat:
I see that you mentioned me (The VIDEO BEAT!) on your website as a source for "Surf Party."I'm writing to say, "Thank you very much!" Also, I will extend a 15% discount to everyone who orders and mentions the Jackie DeShannon Appreciation Society.
Finally, if there is anything else that interest you on my website, please tell me and I'll hook you up!
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