6 spring break movies from the 1960s to make you feel like a teen again

Fort Lauderdale was the hot spot for sun, surf, Elvis, boys and girls.

The most unheralded performer in 1960s cinema is sand. Never before or since had the beach played such a prominant role in movie plots. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon built a beach franchise — a beach empire — for American International Pictures. 

But because of the season, we are going to focus on a more specific type of beach flick — the spring break movie. The practice of spring break partying exploded in the 1960s, mostly due to the first film below. Teenagers and college kids had cars, free time and an itch to surf. Fort Lauderdale was the place to be. 

Which was your favorite spring break movie? Where did you go with your friends to vacation? Sing along now, "Wheeeerrrrre the booooys are…"

1. Where the Boys Are (1960)


No piece of entertainment had a more profound effect on the vacation habits of 20th century college students. Fort Lauderdale was the original spring break destination, dating back to the 1930s, when Colgate University swimmers would flock to the Florida city for warm weather training. By the end of the 1950s, Fort Lauderdale had become such a hot spot that a Michigan State professor wrote a novel about its spring break scene, Where the Boys Are. The film adaptation hit theaters at the close of 1960, and when spring break rolled around three months later, 50,000 college kids flooded the town. George Hamilton's bronze tan and Connie Francis' theme song would inspire countless adolescents. Heck, even the Yankees started coming to Fort Lauderdale for spring training starting in 1962, making party locales like the Elbo Room and Pier 66 Hotel tourist landmarks.

2. Palm Springs Weekend (1963)


For students on the West Coast, Fort Lauderdale was too far a trek. California kids, already spoiled by the beach, instead went inland to Palm Springs. Where the Boys Are clearly inspired this flick, which cast its own Connie (Stevens) and used the tagline "It's where the boys and the girls are." As one dapper character says in the trailer, "Palm Springs is where it swings." He says this in between Jerry Van Dyke excitedly proclaiming, "Girls!" Weekend was also Dawn Wells' movie debut. You can also spot a young Bill Mumy.

3. Ride the Wild Surf (1964)


Three young men head to Hawaii's Waimea Bay for an annual surf competition. The filming of the action in the waves is stunning, as the surf was particularly meaty during production. Pop singers Fabian and Shelley Fabares were cast as leads, yet the two oddly never croon a tune. Wild Surf takes itself a little more seriously than most other beach blanket bingos. The Jan & Dean theme is fantastic. Television lovers will take note of Barbara Eden a year before she slipped inside the Jeannie bottle.

4. Girl Happy (1965)


Of course Elvis was going to ride this wave, too. He heads to Fort Lauderdale (that place again) with Shelley Fabares (her again) for some love in the sun. Teen fans of the King would perhaps leave disappointed, as Presley never once takes off his shirt, hitting the beach and long sleeves and even water skiing with his top on. The soundtrack's "Puppet on a String" and "Do the Clam" would both chart.

5. The Girls on the Beach (1965)


Alpha Beta girls go to great lengths to save their sorority house. Half a decade later, movie trailers were still relying on the lure of "Where the Boys Are! Where the Girls Are!" This 1965 big screen party was built around pop, and that is fine by us, because the combination of the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore and the Crickets delivered the best music of this movie micro-genre. "Yeah, coyotes, your favorite foxes will wig when they see this flick!" the preview proclaims, in perhaps the most 1960s sentence ever.

6. Mondo Daytona (1968)


By the end of the decade, Fort Lauderdale was overrun and the party had moved a bit north. This underground obscurity was far bolder in showing what happened on the Atlantic shores of Florida in March. It's a rock & roll film filled with bikers, necking and Grand Funk Railroad.

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mdit21 25 months ago
Of all the "beach movies," I'm partial to this obscure one...

ArthurWarmanen 25 months ago
Watched Palm Spring Weekend, but not listed was Beach Party Bingo!
Moody 25 months ago
I've seen most of these except #6. I don't recall that one. I never liked any of the Elvis movies. I always found them pretty awful.
Michael 25 months ago
Not a spring break movie, but Disney's The Boatniks is a summer movie. I'm not sure I saw it until I got it on DVD, but I had the comic book.

Another fun summer movie was "Hello Down There" from Ivan Tors. Not a Disney film, but would have fit there. Tony Randall invents an undersea house, and takes the family down to test it. The kids have a band, that includes Richard Dreyfuss. A lot of classic tv actors.

Of course, Jacques Cousteau had such undersea houses on his special around then.
Moverfan Michael 25 months ago
I saw Hello Down There years (and years) ago on TV--it was on at something like one in the morning, as I recall. And I saw The Boatniks when it first came out--at a drive-in with my mom and dad. I had the novelization of it, too. Got it through the Scholastic Book Fair in grade school...although not the same year I got the novelization of Young Frankenstein...
Michael Moverfan 25 months ago
I saw a lot of movies fifty years ago when a local station ran movies in the afternoon. I remember a snowstorm, watching Scott of the Antarctic. I think that's when I saw Hello Down There. Has Charlotte Rae, Ken Berry, Jim Backus, Lou Wegner, and Harvey Lembeck.

I didn't see many movies until I was sixteen. At least not in theatres. So comic books and yes, those Scholastic Books, and Little Golden Books brought them to me. Later, I'd find Scholastic Books at used book sales, I have onetied to the Sacco & Vanzetti film (an odd choice for kids) and another for the SF film Silent Running. One year I even got one that previewed the coming tv season, at least for kids, I think for 1974.
L Moverfan 25 months ago
I have Hello Down There on DVD! (No, they didn't do their own singing as far as I know).

Jaws (I was on the threshold of being 14). Logan's Run & Star Wars (New Hope). Those were the last movies I saw at the drive-in (which only operated during summer) before it closed in 1978. Any Disney cartoon. In a sense, any movie at the drive-in was a "summer" movie.
Moverfan L 25 months ago
The last movie I saw at a drive-in was ET. I was twenty...my sister was six and a half (seven that August). We'll be 60 and 47 this year...
ChanduTheMagician 25 months ago
Sorry to be pedantic, but RIDE THE WILD SURF takes place over winter break, not spring. The waves at Waimea, which is the crux of the story, are highest in the winter and that is clearly spelled out in the film. And Elvis sings “Do The Clam” in his wretched film, CLAMBAKE, not in GIRL HAPPY. The latter is actually one of the better Elvis fluff films, though seeing these guys clearly in their 30’s enjoying “spring break” is rather creepily hilarious.
Do the clam is in Girl Happy.
Snickers 25 months ago
What no Beach Blanket Bingo?
Michael Snickers 25 months ago
I think technically, those happen in the summer.

They are an odd mix. Not overly explicit, but not prudish like I thought they'd be. The young women have a better sense of themselves. And the music so current at the time.
Lacey Snickers 25 months ago
The first thing I thought, though Michael is correct that it is a summer movie and not a spring break one. (BTW, when I click like I get an UNLIKE response from the post. Don't know why)
JDnHuntsvilleAL Lacey 25 months ago
After clicking LIKE, it changes to UNLIKE to give you a chance to take it back. It's not a response.
Snickers Michael 25 months ago
Spring or summer still love the Beach movies from the 60's
L Michael 25 months ago
JUST because you're at the beach, doesn't mean it's summer. For Pete's sake, don't people in California go to the beach in the dead of "winter"?
TillieMae607 25 months ago
I got all excited thinking I was going to be able to watch these on MeTV. Boo Hoo, still a great article, but seeing the films again would be greater.
djk TillieMae607 25 months ago
Great idea! They lost Colombo and added a "modern" detective. Sunday evening movie - wonderful. There's Saturday night "horror" hosted movie show.
DoubleNaughtSpy 25 months ago
Great article guys! How about coughing up a little cash and purchasing one-off rights to each of these movies and showing them next month, as opposed to torturing us with yet another Month of Mayberry?

Just a thought......
Marejim DoubleNaughtSpy 25 months ago
I miss June Bugs!
JeanInTN 25 months ago
It would be great if MeTV would have a movie night and show an old movie like these once a week, just like the original networks did back in the day. I think "Where the Boys Are" and "Girl Happy" used to come on TV about every year when I was a teen.
JDnHuntsvilleAL JeanInTN 25 months ago
Every Saturday night -- it's called "Svengoolie."
SalIanni 25 months ago
These movies are all fine but I still prefer the "Beach Party" movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Those movies had everything the spring break movies had and more: sun, sand, surf, great music, beautiful girls, a great leading couple in Frankie and Annette, and hilarious guest stars like Paul Lynde, Buster Keaton, and Don Rickles that only added to the fun, especially Harvey Lenbeck as Eric Von Zipper who was beyond hilarious!
BuckeyeBeth7 SalIanni 25 months ago
I’ve always referred to those as “The Beach Blanket Bingo Movies”. I remember being introduced to them as reruns on weekend afternoons a small kid along with the old Godzilla films. I’m pretty sure the beach films were my introduction to Don Rickles, Buster Keaton and maybe Vincent Price. I also loved Harvey Lembeck! I was always disappointed when the beach film didn’t have the antics of Eric Von Zipper and his Ratz.
Michael SalIanni 25 months ago
Then there was Back to the Beach in 1987, sort of a reunion/parody of the Beach Party movies, with Annette and Frankie as parents. A lot of classic tv actors have cameos.

I'm still not sure if I've seen all of them.

Village of the Giants is sen as an almost Beach Party film, it's played on Svengoolie.
Michael BuckeyeBeth7 25 months ago
Then there's the episode of The Partridge Family where the staff is on strike at the venue. Michael Lembeck seems to be the leader, his father Harvey is the owner or manager. Erik von Zipper didn't seem like the father at all. I see a picture, a mustache makes the difference.

Michael played Max, Jukie's husband on One Day at a Time.
Michael BuckeyeBeth7 25 months ago
I don't think I saw them until I was in my fifties. Except for Village of the Giants, which has similarity but no beach.

I'm sure I noticed Don Rickles first on Get Smart, his old army buddy Sid.
Moverfan Michael 25 months ago
Do you remember the Kroft Superstar Hour on Saturday mornings back in the seventies? The hosts/house band was Captain Kool & The Kongs...guess who played the captain? (Yes, Michael, we remember!)
Michael SalIanni 25 months ago
And Donna Loren. I'm also intrigued by a woman named "Animal", especially since she wasn't one of the "Mice". And no parents around.
ClayRogers 25 months ago
Hey! You left out The Horror of Party Beach!
Lacey ClayRogers 25 months ago
lbwilmoth 25 months ago
Girl Happy is one of Elvis's funner movies. Shelly fabre and Mary Ann mobley are gorgeous also.
MadMadMadWorld lbwilmoth 25 months ago
Shelley Fabares.
Michael MadMadMadWorld 25 months ago
And married to BJ, Mike Farrell
eddiecantorfan 25 months ago
I wish that Svengoolie on METV
Would show these Movies.
1 The Rocky Horror Picture Show
2 Beetlejuice
3 Attack Of The Crab Monsters
4 This Island Earth
5 Gremlins
6 Fiend Without A Face
7 Monster On The Campus
8 Ten Little Indians
9 Clue
10 Munster Go Home
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Moverfan Moverfan 25 months ago
That should say "Clue with all three endings--otherwise they'd have to run it three times". I thought I'd typed it that way because I was up at two am, but it's because of my phone's auto-correct. I know that because it did it again when I typed this!
TheSentinel eddiecantorfan 25 months ago
I don't see Rocky Horror ever airing on Svengoolie because the subject matter of that movie's a bit racy for a family-oriented network like MeTV.
L eddiecantorfan 25 months ago
Rocky Horror is on DVD. I was one of the stupid ones that spent $100 for it.

I think Clue is on DVD too.

Tim, wherever you are, I hope you're getting better.
L TheSentinel 25 months ago
Since LGTBS (whatever) is more "acceptable" (whether you actually approve agenda or not) not quite as "racy" as it was in 1973. Still I would treat it as PG-13 (parents strongly advised).
tootsieg 25 months ago
The mentioned movies are a lot of fun. TCM will be showing Beach Blanket Bingo, Where the Boys Are and Palm Springs Weekend on Tuesday 4/12. 2pm, 4pm and 6pm respectively. Eastern time. Just in time for spring break!!!
MadMadMadWorld tootsieg 25 months ago
Many colleges have already had their Spring Break week already in mid- or late-March!
Michael MadMadMadWorld 25 months ago
Here the elementary and high schools have "spring break" at the beginning of March. Nothing spring about it unless you travel.

Fifty years ago, no spring break. But I recall grttinga week? at Easter. So closer to spring, but often not too warm here.
Michael tootsieg 25 months ago
Beach Party is on at noon Eastern, right before Beach Blanket Bingo. The latter was on TCM very recently. I wish they'd spend a day and run them all, or maybe over the month.
tootsieg Michael 25 months ago
Thanks for the heads up.
Michael 25 months ago
I saw "Where the Boys Are" in 1984, the remake. I remember nothing.

Most if tbese I've barely heard of. Seems too restrictive to limit to "spring break". Beach movies seem more interesting, I've been watching the beach party movies. And finally saw Clambake, which is ok but no real clambake (they don't dig a pit) and it's a one song scene. Elvis did a lot of films around the water.
Lacey Michael 25 months ago
A chance to make an updated version that was squandered.
stevesteiger 25 months ago
The Three Stooges are one of the greatest comedy teams of all time. They are true masters of comedy. I wish that MeTV would add them to the schedule on additional days and times. I love their 2 hour time slot on Saturdays, but occasionally I am unable to watch them on that day of the week.
Michael stevesteiger 25 months ago
Then it woukd eat time from Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, and Andy Griffith.

I did watch recently a Stooges version of "Around the World in 80 Days". A descendent of Phineas Fogg (the name I knew from the Classics Illustrated version) has to do it again, but without spending money. The Stooges are his valets. A variant of the story, it was better than the recent Masterpiece Theatre version.
Rick stevesteiger 25 months ago
Why are you wasting our time with Stooges in this story of beach movies? I despise the Stooges
L stevesteiger 25 months ago
Give me the Marx Brothers any day. I have ALL 13 movies and have seen them literally over 100 times. I would pay serious money to see one on the big screen.
L L 25 months ago
PS-Three Stooges (love them or hate them) were not on Broadway. Neither was Laurel & Hardy (a close second), and neither was Abbott & Costello (a distant third) as far as I know.

Marx were BIG Broadway stars. THAT's the difference!
L L 25 months ago
AND...the Marx Brothers really and truly played music...for real.
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