Friday, January 28, 2011

Where The He's Meet The She's on Skis

Just look at the poster for this 1965 wacky comedy, Ski Party, and know that I saw this poster in a movie book about 15 years ago. Now you'll know how much I've wanted to see this movie since I laid eyes on this beauty. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Netflix and their Watch Instantly feature, I finally got to go on this ski trip last week and it was a delight. Simply put, movies do not get more vapid, idiotic, fluffy and wafer-thin than the "beach party movies" of the mid 1960's. Wait a minute, what...beach party movie? This looks like a skiing movie, Ed! Well yes, it does feature skiing but it's part of the great Beach Party Movie craze of the 60's.

My mom was a big fan of these movies and introduced them to me a long time ago. Basically, in 1963 a little movie was made called Beach Party. This silly movie was nothing more than teenagers surfing, dancing, and listening to rock and roll music. The movie was such a surprise smash hit that it spawned 6 sequels and a flood of imitations and spin-offs. Some of these movies traded the beach for a racetrack or a ski lodge but they all followed the same basic blue print. Ski Party is one of the official spin-offs as it features most of the same actors and production team from the original Beach Party movies.

This movie is great for so many reasons. First of all, in a beach movie there needs to be no explanation for anything. For example, girls skiing in bikinis. Not a single person in this movie finds it odd that girls are out in freezing cold temperatures wearing next to nothing. They are pretty girls. They are wearing bikinis. They are skiing. So what?

Ski Party features two great rock n' roll performances by Lesley Gore and James Brown. Yes, the legendary James Brown. When the gang decides to go on the ski trip, we cut to their bus rolling down the highway. For no reason at all chart topping singer Lesley Gore is riding in the bus singing her big hit "Sunshine Lollipops." She doesn't play a character in the movie and she doesn't appear anywhere else in the film except on the bus ride to the ski resort. She doesn't even had a line of dialogue. She just lip syncs her record while standing there like a oil-neglected robot.

At least they took the time to somehow fit James Brown in to the picture. The not yet legendary Godfather of Soul wanders into the gangs chalet one night with his backup singers. They are the local ski patrol and warn the kids of the terrible weather out. Then one of the girls shouts, "Hey, you're not the ski patrol! You're James Brown!" At which point Mr. Brown rips off his winter coat and sings and dances his way through "I Feel Good." It's actually quite entertaining even if it makes no sense whatsoever!

Another bizarre bit in the movie is a running gag involving a polar bear skiing and yodeling. I'm not quite sure what that's all about, but the way it's all staged suggests that it's probably a reference to a television commercial of the time.

As with any beach movie worth it's weight in sand, there are also plenty of scenes that just involve teenagers dancing. Every so often, the camera will drop just a bit and hold a lingering shot on someones gyrating buttocks. It was the 60's, they were just discovering sex in the movies.

James Brown, robot Leslie Gore, the skiing polar bear and a hint of a butt shot are all represented in the great theatrical trailer for this masterpiece:

This flick is available on a double feature DVD with Muscle Beach Party. You can get the double DVD from Netflix or watch either instantly on your computer or other such device. You should ski this movie!

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