Fun 1960's Surfing Story With Incredible Hawaiian Surfing Fo
Simon Davis | 09/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think alot of people viewing "Ride the Wild Surf",from 1964 believe they are about to see your typical 1960's beach party film. However this particular entry in the popular cycle of surf and beach movies is quite different from the rest. Most notably it has a totally different group of young or "youngish", cast members to the Beach party films and there is no Frankie Avalon or Annette Funicello in sight. Secondly while still a story of adventure and romance set against surfing action "Ride the Wild Surf", is for the most part much more serious in tone and in its approach to the material and is removed from the usual California settings of the other stories and is instead filmed on location in Hawaii which adds greatly to the visual appeal of the film. Incorporating some truly spectacular surfing footage which is some of the best of its kind this film however has in common with other beach stories the practice of using the now comical back projection photography supposedly showing the actors "riding", the waves before cutting to real footage of surfers in action. Its all good fun however and like most of the story shouldn't be taken too seriously but just enjoyed for its many appealing elements.
"Ride the Wild Surf", tells the story of three Californian buddies Jod Wallis (Fabian), Chase Colton (Peter Brown), and Steamer Lane (Tab Hunter) who (despite the very evident age differences!), are college mates seeking the ultimate adventure by travelling to Hawaii over the New Year's break to ride the waves and tackle the infamous Big Wiamea which is the biggest set of waves off Hawaii's North Shore. Predictably each guy has his own set of issues to sort out before tackling the giant 30ft wave. Jody was a neglected child who has no trust in people despite falling for Brie Matthews (Shelley Fabares)who works hard to get him to reengage in his studies rather than surfing his life away, Chase suffers from a too practical nature caused by his affluent background that his relationship with carefree Augie Poole (Barbara Eden), helps to dispel, while Steamer has to contend with the disapproving mother Mrs. Kilua (Catherine McLeod), of his love interest Lily (Susan Hart)who thinks all surfers are bums and not to be trusted like her own ex husband. During the course of the groups holiday their romantic complications are eventually sorted and each guy grows stronger and more confident in themselves as a result. Jody learns to trust people again and makes plans for the future back home, Chase learns to lighten up and not feel he has to be perfect all the time, while Steamer wins Mrs. Kilua's belief in his sincerity and settles down to work on her property in Hawaii. All of this occurs of course just in time for the climatic arrival of the Wiamea which pits the guys against their rivals in the challenge to see who can master the monster waves. As it turns out all the guys slowly withdraw from the competition except Jody and his chief rival Eskimo (James Mitchum). After much effort and some perilous rides on the giant waves Jody is the sole surfer left and in the climax of the story he sucessfully rides the giant wave right into the beach to the aproval of all the crowd watching the spectacle from the beach.
"Ride the Wild Surf", takes an interesting different slant on the usual surfing story and has generally better production values than most of the beach party films from the same period. The sense of competition between the guys and the need to prove themselves is really the central theme here and while it has its fair quota of babes, bikini's and surfer music it is no where near as light hearted as the Frankie and Annette films. The location photography in Hawaii is truly breathtaking which makes this film an ideal viewing experience for armchair travellers but it is the stunning surfing camera work that really captures your attention here. You dont even need to be a fan of the sport to enjoy this as the photography is amazing and at the climax of the story surprisingly gripping. Of course the film also has the comical marching shots of the actors supposedly riding the waves that are only present in back projection while they balance on obviously stationary surf boards but those scenes are half the fun of this film. The cast of "Ride the Wild Surf", is an interesting one and really is a snap shot of the young performers who were popular in this early 1960's period. Fabian and Tab Hunter of course were the teen heart throbs of the time while Peter Brown (with blonde hair here for some strange reason) would become a popular 60's actor on the western series "Laredo". Barbara Eden ( also with a change of hair colour), went from this movie into her most famous role on TV in "I Dream of Jeannie", while Shelley Fabares had just completed her on going role on "The Donna Reed Show", released some hit singles such as "Johnny Angel" and was a popular young performer around this time. Performances by the whole cast are standard for this type of vehicle and the males are featured in all their bronzed muscled glory while the females parade in a never ending series of colourful bikini's as they wait on the beach for their men. The action is all very innocent with no sex featured except for a chaste kiss or two and certainly is a reflection of a time long gone which for me at least succeeds in increasing this film's appeal. The story flows along at a good speed however and director Don Taylor never allows the character development to get too much in the way of the films chief attraction which of course is the wonderful surfing footage.
For me "Ride the Wild Surf", is a nostalgic journey back to the innocence of the early 1960's. While it is a time I can't personally recall myself it has many appealing elements to it which is why I enjoy both the Frankie/Annette type of beach movies as well as this bigger budgeted more serious effort. The hit song that is used for the movie's title by Jan and Dean is also a winner and the film has all the essential elements of a surf movie with goodlooking young people, plenty of spectacular surfing action and of course the standard romance. In short it's the perfect way to spend a couple of hours where no deep meanings are present and the delights are all of the visual kind. Enjoy!"
Ride The Wild Surf
Gary S Schmitz | Corona, Ca. United States | 07/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1964 three friends went to the show to see a surf movie for the first time. We returned to see this movie over and over again, (7 times to be exact). Being young and impressionable we wanted to be like Fabian, Tab Hunter, and Peter Brown riding Big Waves in Hawaii and falling in "Love" with girls like Susan Hart, Shelley Fabares and Barbara Eden. This movie made our summer of '64 a fantasy summer, we went to the beach, tried to surf, listened to Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and dreamt of the girls in "Ride the Wild Surf". By todays standards this movie seems "Hokie", but for three fourteen year old boy's in 1964 it was a movie and Summer to remember."
Ride, ride, ride... the wild cliche!
L Goodman-Malamuth | Washington, D.C. | 03/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dudes, babes, and fabulous footage of the north shore of Hawaii, plus the classic theme song co-written by Brian Wilson and sung by Jan & Dean. This is about as good as '60s beach movies get, partly a good impersonation, part pure Hollywood fantasy, of my own childhood backdrop of surfing action in southern California and Hawaii. Dig the scenes in which the "surfers" are waiting for their waves on perfectly calm blue water on what is probably a giant studio backlot wading pool! Thrill as their doubles paddle out to attack the scary gray curls of Waimea Bay "and conquer those waves 'most thirty feet high"! Shelley Fabares and Barbara Eden are among the girls on the beach.It's cool, buddy boy."
A Beach Movie with Character and Depth - One of the Best
gobirds2 | New England | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike other beach movies that were typified by silly slapstick buffoonery, muscles and bikinis RIDE THE WILD SURF was the antithesis of such tomfoolery. Still keeping the muscles and bikinis RIDE THE WILD SURF took itself serious and played it straight. Basically three buddies from California (Fabian, Tab Hunter and Peter Brown) travel to Hawaii during school break looking for the challenge of the truly big waves each with own motivations and reasons. They are not alone in their quest and that sets up the dynamics of this good film as they vie not only to be the best but to win the hearts of the three females (Barbara Eden, Shelley Fabares and Susan Hart) who become enamored with them. In their way are other surfers (including James Mitchum and Roger Davis) looking for that perfect wave as well. This all intensifies the competition, develops the camaraderie and shows the true character and sportsmanship of the surfers. Technically the surfing and cinematography are outstanding. Jan & Dean play the title song that stands toe to toe with anything the Beach Boys did in the musical genre. This is a great film.