How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Beach Film, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Jul 14, 1965 (USA)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

For sheer in-joke references and pop-culture density, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is the most rewarding entry in the entire "Beach Party" series. From the delightful Claymation opening credit sequence devised by Gumby-creator Art Clokey, one can tell that the producers were putting a little extra into this picture, probably because there was a lot less of both Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello onscreen than in prior films. Avalon, who was making other films at the time, is barely in it, except at the beginning and the end, and Funicello was several months pregnant at the time and director William Asher was doing his best to shoot around her condition. They made up for the two stars' relative non-appearances with a very busy, goofy plot that managed to satirize the advertising industry, early '60s youth culture, and even exploitation movies of this kind (Keaton looks at the camera after delivering some explanatory dialogue and says "And that's all the plot you're gonna get out of me!") The script and plot are also filled -- practically to the penultimate scene, a great comic cameo by Elizabeth Montgomery -- with lines and characterizations that were lifted right out of the television series Bewitched, no surprise since this movie was co-authored and directed by William Asher, the producer of Bewitched. The presence of Dwayne Hickman, TV's Dobie Gillis, in a prominent role, is also exploited to the fullest, even allowing the actor to address the camera (as in that television series). There are also some surprising bonuses in the music -- all good surf songs and girl-group numbers -- which are much better integrated into the plot than any of the earlier movies, advancing the story like a real musical rather than stopping it cold. Brian Wilson is on hand as an anonymous beach denizen, but the Kingsmen grab the onscreen musical glory with a superb punk number called "Give Her Lovin'." And in the middle is a line of dialogue -- "If you can't be with the girl you love, love the girl you're with" -- lifted in part from Finian's Rainbow, but anticipating Stephen Stills' pop-sexist anthem "Love the One You're With" by seven years. Anyone with a sharp eye or ear and a memory for the time will need a scorecard to sort it all out -- if they can stop chuckling long enough.