Kowabunga! The success of 1963’s BEACH PARTY begat a deluge of Teen Beach Flicks, loaded with sand, sun, and surf, not to mention babes in bikinis, sturdy, studly boys, and rock’n’roll music. And while the Frankie & Annette/AIP sequels have a charm of their own, most of the imitators ranged from fairly okay (IT’S A BIKINI WORLD ) to pretty mediocre (CATALINA CAPER) to downright bad (WILD ON THE BEACH) . FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG falls into the first category, thanks to a lively cast headed by heartthrobs James Darren and Pamela Tiffin, and a slew of Familiar Faces from movies and TV.
Just don’t expect Shakespeare or anything like that, because FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG is as harmless a piece of movie fluff as you’ll ever come across! The plot is so simple even I could’ve come up with it: all the sorority girls are going ga-ga over rich, handsome young stud ‘Ding’ Prescott, but he only has eyes for pretty Sandy Palmer, who has no use for the charming rascal. Despite all his silly romantic machinations, ‘Ding’ can”t get to first base with this ice-cold coed.
Meanwhile, Sandy’s “uncles” Woody and Sid turn local hangout Surf’s Up into the swingingest place in town, thanks to Woody’s comedy talents and sexy dancer Topaz McQueen (and with a name like Topaz McQueen, she’d better be sexy!). The college, led by board member and ‘Ding’s’ grandpa Buford Cronin, gets in an uproar over rumors of underage drinking and “hanky panky” going on, and send prim (but equally sexy!) professor Pamela Swanson to investigate. Everything finally comes to a head (as they usually do in these films) when they try to shut down Surf’s Up, and Grandpa is discovered to be an ex-bootlegger named ‘Nifty’ Cronin (nicknames must run in the family), the surfing college kids (who don’t go to a lot of classes, by the way) blackmail him, and ‘Ding’ and Sandy finally get it on… er, I mean get together!
Star James Darren has always been a personal favorite of mine. He made his film debut in the low budget RUMBLE ON THE DOCKS (alongside Robert Blake and Timothy Carey ), was the original Moondoggie in 1959’s GIDGET, had the lead in the underrated LET NO MAN WRITE MY EPITAPH, costarred in the hit THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, and acted for Jess Franco in VENUS IN FURS. His TV resume includes Irwin Allen’s brief but memorable THE TIME TUNNEL , three seasons as William Shatner’s sidekick on TJ HOOKER , and hologram Vic Fontaine on STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (and don’t forget his turn as the animated ‘Jimmy Darrock’ on an episode of THE FLINTSTONES!). Darren also had a couple of minor rock hits, including the theme from “Gidget”, “Goodbye Cruel World”, and “Her Royal Majesty”. As of this writing, James Darren is alive and well at age 83, and still performs on occasion, to the delight of his many fans!
Pamela Tiffin was groomed to be a big star, in big films like SUMMER AND SMOKE, Billy Wilder’s ONE TWO THREE, STATE FAIR, and COME FLY WITH ME, but the beautiful young actress marched to her own drumbeat, and left Hollywood behind to marry Italian Edmondo Danon and move to the Continent, where she continued to act in Italian films until her retirement (Ms. Tiffin is also still with us at age 79). TV host Woody Woodbury (WHO DO YOU TRUST?) plays her “Uncle Woody”, and his smarmy, 60’s-style sex’n’booze jokes are kinda archaic and corny… yet I still found myself laughing at them! Another 60’s favorite, the sarcastic Paul Lynde , plays “Uncle Sid”.
Sexy Topaz McQueen is none other than sexy Tina Louise, who played sexy movie star Ginger Grant on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND. And Gilligan himself, Bob Denver, is on hand as ‘Ding’s’ beatnik buddy Kelp! Character actor Robert Middleton (THE DESPERATE HOURS, LOVE ME TENDER) plays ‘Ding’s’ ex-bootlegger Grandpa. A young Ellen McRae is the prudish professor; she later changed her name to Ellen Burstyn and won an Oscar for ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. And the daughters of Hollywood royalty make their film debuts as coeds Karen and Sue… Nancy Sinatra and Claudia Martin, Frank and Dino’s kids!
I mentioned “a slew of Familiar Faces” earlier, and this is the main reason film buffs will want to catch this lightweight little time waster: stars from the worlds of film and television like (take a deep breath!) Robert Armstrong (in his last film appearance), Benny Baker, Lada Edmond Jr (HULLABALOO’s top go-go dancer, later a successful stuntwoman), the ubiquitous Bess Flowers , vaudeville vet Mousie Garner, Susan Hart (THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI), perennial screen gangsters Allen Jenkins and Jack LaRue , Anna Lee (as Darren’s mom), Michael Nader (DYNASTY’s Dex Dexter), Louis Quinn (Roscoe on 77 SUNSET STRIP), the one-and-only George Raft (as a cop!), character actorAddison Richards, Roger Smith (another 77 SUNSET STRIP alum and hubby of Ann-Margret), and Sammee Tong all appear in small roles.
Far as beach movies go, FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG doesn’t have a lot of music in it; there’s a folk rock-type tune in there somewhere, the title track sung by Darren, and a weird little novelty number by Bob Denver called “Ho Daddy, Surf’s Up”…
…what it does have a plethora of (besides all those Familiar Faces) is a ton of product placement! You see, FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG was the early 60’s advertising slogan for Pepsi-Cola, to try and differentiate the brand from rival Coca-Cola by declaring it the soft drink of choice for the tanned and trim teen set. And Pepsi is literally everywhere in this film! Pepsi cans, Pepsi bottles, Pepsi vending machines… hell, I’m getting bloated just thinking about it! Be that as it may, this is a fun if inconsequential little beach entry that I’d recommend for the presence of James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, and all those Familiar Faces we movie and TV fans love to watch. So go on, crack open another Pepsi *burrrp* and give it a whirl. Surf’s up, dudes and dudettes!