Presenting my new Double Feature feature! I’ve had this idea for a little while but when I watched Gidget followed by Psycho Beach Party the other night I decided it was time to finally start it. Basically, it’ll just be a series of double features that I like to watch together, or think go well together one after the other.
Note: I tried adding captions for each screencap to identify each film but wordpress decided to not play nice. If you really want them, let me know and I’ll try again. I had a lot of trouble with formatting this post.
Anyone who has seen both Gidget and Psycho Beach Party will know exactly why they go so well together (one wouldn’t exist without the other, for one) but for those of you who haven’t seen either I’ll break it down for you…
Isn’t Gidget the absolute ultimate?! Gosh, gee, wow. Yes, this film is cornball, yes, the ’50s teen lingo is overdone at times but I love it. I love movies like this because they’re kitschy but also because I just love them. If you’re not familiar with the plot of Gidget it centres on Francie Lawrence, played by Sandra Dee, later nicknamed Gidget by her surfer pals. It’s summer and Francie’s friends are only interested in boys and dating but Francie thinks dating is ‘icky’. Her friends take a reluctant Francie on her very first manhunt but, after being unsuccessful, leave her alone to go for a swim. When she nearly drowns, and is saved by surfer Moondoggie, Francie decides surfing is the thing for her and sets her mind on becoming the best female surfer!
“Surfing is out of this world. You can’t imagine the thrill of shooting the curl. It positively surpasses every living emotion I’ve ever had.” (Francie, Gidget)
And then she falls in love and doesn’t think dating is so icky after all. Her sights are now set on getting Moondoggie and, after mishaps and misadventures, they end up together (that’s not really a spoiler – it’s what always happens in these films!) Despite some problematic elements in this film, it’s still pretty neat to see a plot centred on a girl taking up a male-dominated hobby. I haven’t seen either of the other Gidget films and have heard very mixed things about them but I’m still keen on seeing them.
Combining the major plot points of Gidget and Marnie, and adding the flavour of the ’60s Beach Party films and later horror flicks we have Psycho Beach Party written by Charles Busch and directed by Robert Lee King. If you don’t like slightly offbeat, tongue-in-cheek humour then you won’t like this film…or, in fact, many of the films I love.
“I just hope that one day decent people no longer find this sort of sick humour a source of comedy.” (Captain Monica Stark, Psycho Beach Party)
“Kid, listen to it in high-fidelity, stereophonic sound: surfing’s a man’s domain. No minnows in the shark tank.” (Starcat, Psycho Beach Party)
“No one understands Bettina. Her screen persona is a brilliant comment on the socio-political structure of stardom.” (Berdine, Psycho Beach Party)
If we take Susan Sontag’s differentiations of naïve and deliberate camp, where kitsch falls into the first as it’s ‘unaware that it is tasteless’ then Gidget is definitely kitsch. But Psycho Beach Party is most definitely camp in its self-awareness and spoof qualities.* And, as mentioned already, as a devotee of kitsch, camp and trash, I can’t help but adore this film as much as I do.
You can see some more of my Psycho Beach Party screencaps here if you are interested. I’ve missed a couple of points I was going to make but felt the post was getting a little wordy as it is.
*OK, so I’m paraphrasing Wiki paraphrasing Sontag but it’s the essential point…