The Boatniks is a 1970 American comedy film starring Robert Morse, Stefanie Powers, Don Ameche and Phil Silvers. It was made by Walt Disney Productions, released by Buena Vista Distribution and directed by Norman Tokar.
Young and awkward, Coast Guard Ensign Thomas Garland (Morse) suffers from the comparison with his late father, a war hero, which does not prevent him from falling for pretty Kate Fairchild (Powers), a young woman who runs a sailing school. Of course the way he expresses his deep feelings for the lady leaves much to be desired, and the situation does not improve when a trio of bumbling jewel thieves interferes.
Wally Cox had a supporting role playing a man who runs a boat for girls to give parties to for the purposes of socializing with men.
U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Jordan (Joey Forman) responds to a number of pleas for help from civilian pleasure boat sailors off the coast of Southern California. This type of event is typical of what the Coast Guard deals with on a regular basis, and is one of the reasons why Jordan has requested to transfer to a new station. He is handing over the reins to Ensign Tom Garland (Robert Morse), a polite but remarkably clumsy fellow who will now report to Commander Taylor (Don Ameche), a man who fought in World War II with Garland's father and holds him in high regard.
Through a series of events, Garland's ineptitude as the station's new skipper is revealed. He repeatedly flounders in tending to the various minor issues plaguing the crowded waters' impatient travelers. It also doesn't take long for him to set his eyes on Kate Fairchild (Stefanie Powers), a "girl next door" type who runs a local boat rental and sailing school spot on the coast.
Meanwhile, three jewel thieves are making their way to Mexico while listening to reports of their pursuit. There's ringleader Harry Simmons (Phil Silvers) who poses as a yacht club "commodore" and dispatches orders to his two associates, Charlie (Mickey Shaughnessy) and Max (Norman Fell). This trio has managed to steal a jewel collection, and they intend to smuggle them inside an assortment of casually hollowed food. They decide to rent a boat from Kate to make their way south of the border, although none of the three know how to sail.
With Kate's suggestion that the crooks' suspicious behavior might indicate criminality, she and Tom begin to suspect that they are indeed the three men reported about in a newspaper article. Tom is right about the suspects, but Commander Taylor doesn't initially believe it. Ultimately, Garland is able to convince Taylor, retrieve the stolen jewels, and ensure that the jewel thieves are arrested.Robert Morse as Ensign Garland
Stefanie Powers as Kate
Phil Silvers as Harry Simmons
Norman Fell as Max
Mickey Shaughnessy as Charlie
Wally Cox as Jason
Don Ameche as Commander Taylor
Joey Forman as Lt. Jordan
Vito Scotti as Pepe Galindo
Tom Lowell as Wagner
Robert Hastings as Chief Walsh
Sammy Jackson as Garlotti
Joe E. Ross as Nutty Sailor
Judith Jordan as Tina
Al Lewis as Bert
Midori as Chiyoko Kuni
Kelly Thordsen as Motorcycle Cop
Gil Lamb as Mr. Mitchell
The Boatniks was released on July 1, 1970 and re-released theatrically on June 10, 1977. It was released twice on VHS in November 1983 and March 18, 1997, DVD on August 2, 2005, and Blu-ray on June 21, 2016 in a Disney Movie Club exclusive, 45th Anniversary Edition.
In 1970 the film earned an estimated $5 million in North American rentals. By 1976 this figure was up to $6.6 million.