In the world of beach party movies, famous musical acts just show up to play at the local teen hangout with the frequency that strangers show up at my door wanting to put a new roof on my house (we get a lot of hail in Colorado). The characters in the 1965 film “The Girls on the Beach” have the likes of The Beach Boys and The Crickets hanging out with them all the time. Even Lesley Gore is a sorority sister who occasionally belts out a song. Yet, that’s not enough for them as they set their sights on getting The Beatles to do a fundraiser for them.
The trouble all begins when a group of Alpha Beta sorority sisters, including Selma (Noreen Corcoran), Cynthia (Linda Marshall), and Betty (Nancy Spry), are called away from their beach partying ways by house mother Mrs. Winters (Sheila Bromley). It seems that the father of a disgruntled former member has purchased the mortgage on their house and is expecting a $10,000 balloon payment in two weeks or the girls are out. The sorority has an emergency fund, but unfortunately Mrs. Winters “stole” the money. She didn’t spend it on herself, but gradually spent it all helping out various needy people. Now, the girls need to find a way to make the money back.
They launch various plans to get the money. One girl is given the task of seducing a nerdy guy so that he will help them win a puzzle contest in the local paper. Two other girls are in charge of using their combined cooking and chemistry skills to come up with a champion cake for a cooking contest. Another is entered in a beauty contest. Though the money from those contests will help, it will be far from enough to pay the balloon payment.
But fear not, the girls are also planning on putting on a show and selling tickets. Meanwhile, three guys, Duke (Martin West), Brian (Steven Rogers), and Wayne (Aron Kincaid), are looking for a little female action. When they spy the girls looking through some entertainment magazines, they decide that walking by the girls while talking as if they know famous people will get them some attention. It does, but not knowing when to quit, the guys claim they know The Beatles.
This leads to an elaborate ruse where the guys fake a phone call from Ringo Starr to convince the girls. The voice on the other end of the phone is actually one of the guys, calling from a pay phone (what’s a pay phone?) in the parking lot. Stupidly, he leads the girls to believe that the fab four could possibly play their benefit. Now here’s the thing…you’ve got The Beach Boys always showing up at the local watering hole! The Beach Boys!!! What’s wrong with having them play the show? Oh well.
The plot thickens when the boys even fake a telegram to the girls from The Beatles. The girls launch into full-scale promotion mode, and soon every teenager in town knows The Beatles are coming. What will happen when they don’t show…and will the guys still get dates with the girls?
“The Girls on the Beach” is a pretty weak entry in the beach party genre. There are no memorable characters like the ones that populate AIP’s beach party series. There are way too many sorority sisters and, to be honest, they all kind of blur together. And the guys, well, they’re just plain stupid. They even resort to the old dressing up as girls and sneaking through the sorority house routine. The only interesting character is Dick Miller as the bartender at the local hangout. He’s on screen for way too short a time, but does have a few funny lines.
But, even with a weak story and dumb characters, many will find enough to enjoy in this film based solely on the musical performances. With The Beach Boys, The Crickets, and Lesley Gore, you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive group of performers. The Beach Boys are really the highlight, playing some pretty big hits, including the title song and “Little Honda.” Lesley Gore is also a lot of fun, bursting into song in the middle of the sorority house parties. I can’t help but think that the film may have been a bit more interesting had she been made one of the lead characters, rather than a background sorority sister with a good singing voice.
In the end, The Beatles don’t show up…as if that was a spoiler. If you’re looking for a fun beach party romp, you can do better. But, if you’re looking for some great early 60’s music, there’s plenty here to enjoy.