Release date1964 (1964) WriterWilliam Asher (story), Robert Dillon (screenplay), Robert Dillon (story) SongsMuscle Beach Party CastFrankie Avalon (Frankie), Annette Funicello (Dee Dee), Don Rickles (Jack Fanny), Stevie Wonder (Himself), Luciana Paluzzi (Julie), John Ashley (Johnny) Similar moviesTeen Beach 2, Gidget, Back to the Beach, Bikini Beach, Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo
Muscle Beach Party (1964) is the second of seven beach party films produced by American International Pictures. It stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and was directed by William Asher, who also directed four other films in this series.
Dick Dale and the Del-Tones and Stevie Wonder appear in musical numbers, the latter aged thirteen and making his film debut, billed as "Little Stevie Wonder."
Frankie, Dee Dee, and the beach party gang hit Malibu Beach for another summer of surfing and no jobs only to find their secret surfing spot threatened by a gang of bodybuilders, led by the dim-witted coach Jack Fanny (Don Rickles).
All the while, a bored Italian Countess (Luciana Paluzzi) is trying to steal Frankie from Dee Dee and, much to everyone's surprise, he seems more than happy to go along with it. She's going to turn him into a teen idol, not unlike Frankie Avalon's real-life persona.
Fortunately, due to some razzing from his former surfing buddies and sage advice from wealthy S.Z. Matts (Buddy Hackett), Frankie sees the error of his ways and goes back to his American beach bunny, Dee Dee.
Buddy Hackett .... S.Z. Matts (rich business manager)
Dan Haggerty .... Biff
Larry Scott .... Rock
Gordon Case .... Tug
Gene Shuey .... Riff
Chester Yorton .... Hulk
Bob Seven .... Sulk
Steve Merjanian .... Clod
Alberta Nelson .... Lisa, Jack Fanny's assistant
Amadee Chabot .... Flo, Jack Fanny's assistant
Peter Lorre .... Mr. Strangdour
Funicello reprises her character from Beach Party, although in this film (and three others that follow) she is referred to as "Dee Dee," as opposed to "Dolores." John Ashley's character, previously called "Ken," is now known as "Johnny." Harvey Lembeck's Eric von Zipper character and his Rats gang from Beach Party are absent in this film, although they appear in Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Lembeck as von Zipper (but sans Rats gang) also appears in a cameo in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Lembeck also appeared in Fireball 500, another Avalon-Funicello vehicle, as an entirely different character. Peter Lorre appears briefly near the end of the film and there is a notice explaining that he will appear in the next installment of the series. Lorre died in March 1964; thus, this was his only appearance in the series.
The Golden Laurel, which had no ceremony but published its award results in the trade magazine Motion Picture Exhibitor from 1958 to 1971, nominated Annette Funicello for “Best Female Musical Performance” for this film in 1965.
The film was banned in Burma, along with Ski Party, Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo.