Beach Blanket Bingo

Beach Blanket Bingo

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Directed by William Asher
Written by William Asher & Leo Townsend
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff & James H. Nicholson
American International Pictures, 1965

Frankie and Dee Dee are back in the fifth and arguably best of the AIP beach movies. Kidnapped singers and skydiving teenagers complicate the romantic endeavors of beach life. On top of this, everyone's favorite goofball, Bonehead, has fallen in love with a mermaid!

Marta plays Lorelei the mermaid to Jody McCrea's Bonehead in a subplot that is more captivating that the primary parachute plot. And when Lorelei gets legs and heads to town with Bonehead, sparks fly!

"The thing I remember most about making the movie is that I took so many chances which, now that I am older and, hopefully wiser, I would never do today.  There was one scene in which I was supposed to, as Lorelei the mermaid, pop-up from under the surface of the water and see the troubled parachuters and then dive back under the surface.  Doesn't sound too difficult does it?  Well, try doing it in a heavy surge situated next to a huge boulder in 55 degree water, all the while trying to keep pasties on!  The production company did have a man in a wet suit ready to come to my aid if needed, which I didn't, thank you!

The director, a lovely man named Bill Archer (he was married to Elizabeth Montgomery at the time), would be yelling directions through his megaphone from the shore which I could only hear intermittently.  So I would hear an occasional "look  to your right" or "dive" or "look worried" or "watch for that rock!"  The latter really worried me.  But I lived to tell the tale.  

Many of the kids who played extras in the film were people I had seen on the beach near where I live.  There were some that are surfing legends, such as Johnny Fain and Mickey Dora.  I still see some of them either at the beach or around here.  I think the film is rather sweet and funny.  It is considered the quintessential beach party movie. Then, to think that I worked with one of the great pioneers of film, Buster Keaton, in a beach party movie, well, it boggles the mind.  If only I had seized the moment and not been so shy with him, I would have questioned him until I was blue in the face, or until he got sick of me.  He just seemed so very sad and private and I didn't want to invade his space.  But it really is enough to have been there."

-Marta Kristen, August 15, 2001

Marta:  "I remember shooting day-for-night in Paradise Cove [site of the earlier Gidget movies] in November, having to be out in the freezing surf to make my entrance. I'm trying to look pleasant and pop up out of the water, while trying also to keep from being dashed against some nearby rocks. But I'm the only one who didn't get sick during the shoot -- something about that cold water, I guess!"
-- Starlog Interview, October 1988
Diane Webber in Mermaids of Tiburon If Lorelei's fins look familiar, it's because they show up again on film and television. In fact, Marta was not the first to wear the latex and fiberglass prosthetic tail. The tail was originally built for a previous American International release, The Mermaids of Tiburon in 1962. Diane Webber played the mermaid queen in this 1962 release directed by John Lamb. John Lamb was later hired to do underwater cinematography on a new show called Voyage to the Bottom of Sea.

When Irwin Allen was preparing to film the third season episode of VTTBOS entitled "The Mermaid," Diane Webber was hired to play a mermaid brought aboard the Seaview by Captain Crane. This was probably Lamb's suggestion, and not only did it allow Irwin Allen to use the mermaid tail on the actress it was customized to fit, it also allowed him to him to use underwater footage of the actress from the film. In legendary Irwin Allen style, he saved a fortune in production costs on the move.

Diane Webber and David Hedison

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