Color, 1964, 97 mins. 1 sec.
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, Paul Lynde, Tina Louise, Bob Denver, Nancy Sinatra, Robert Middleton, Claudia Martin, Ellen Burstyn, Woody Woodbury, George Raft
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
When the teen surf party movie wave hit drive-ins with Beach Party in 1963 and its numerous AIP offspring starring various combinations of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, it's surprising every studio around didn't try to cash in right away before the festivities finally puttered out in 1967. However, most of them tried to get in on the action a little with one or two films along the way, and United Artists' bid came early on with For Those Who Think Young. Lifting its title from the new Pepsi Cola slogan ("Now it's Pepsi for those who think young") and prominently featuring the soda throughout, the film follows the usual formula with a very episodic plot featuring a strange array of teen idols and older character actors all tossed into music and comedy scenarios.
Tired of being under the thumb of wealthy grandfather (Middleton), suspiciously mature-looking teenager Ding (Darren) has eyes for Sandy (Tiffin), a good girl who doesn't want anything to do with him. Their big date night goes awry when she insists on going to a beach club where Topaz McQueen (Louise) performs as a burlesque artist and Sandy's very gay-coded but supposedly straight uncles, Paul Lynde and Woody Woodbury (the latter a semi-popular stand-up comic essentially playing himself), work as entertainers. Since Sandy isn't 21, she gets kicked out and embarks on an adventure with Dink, his best pal Kelp (Denver), and his dream girl Karen (Sinatra, making her debut), which involves beach parties, ice cream parlors, and surfing. Meanwhile grandpa is irate about the whole thing and enlists prim Dr. Swenson (Burstyn, still in her early days credited as "Ellen McRae" and seen two years later opposite Darren in an episode of TV's The Time Tunnel), to help shut down the whole beach hangout scene including the club. Can these crazy kids find love when they aren't too busy bickering, and can they talk the older generation to coming around to their way of thinking young?
Exactly the kind of movie to watch on a slow afternoon when you can wander in and out without missing much plot at all, this one coasts by entirely on the strength of its bizarre cast and even weirder music choices. Darren only gets to sing the peppy title song over the credits, Tina Louise gets a little bit of breathy crooning, Lynde and Woodbury do a club medley you won't believe, and Denver delivers the most unforgettable moment in the film (for better or worse) by painting his face, which gets half buried in the sand, to deliver a surreal party song called "Ho Daddy." That scene alone was enough to have channel surfers stopping in their tracks for years, though why the powers that be decided to keep Sinatra, who would become the most famous singer in the entire cast, away from the microphone is anyone's guess. At least she and Denver have some nice chemistry together and actually make for a more appealing couple than our leads; of course, Denver (who was famous at the time as TV's Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which had just gone off the air) would famously reunite with Louise for Gilligan's Island, which started airing three months after this film opened.
For some reason the video history of most beach party films has been strange and turbulent over the years, and this one's fared worse than most by bypassing the VHS era entirely. In fact, it was nearly impossible to see after the '70s until TNT started running a pan and scanned transfer in the late '80s and '90s now and then late at night; a letterboxed upgrade later turned up in the '00s on MGM HD, which at least made the film much easier on the eyes. That means it didn't get a home video release of any kind until 2021 when Scorpion Releasing issued it on Blu-ray and DVD via Kino Lorber. As usual it's a solid MGM catalog scan with very bright, punchy colors and good detail that doesn't scrub away any of the natural grain where it's needed; if you've seen the (far too few) earlier beach party films out on Blu-ray, you'll have an idea of what to expect here. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track (with optional English SDH subtitles) sounds fine for a fairly typical, basic sound mix from the era with the songs coming off dynamic enough to hold your interest. The scope theatrical trailer is also included (in really nice shape) along with bonus ones for Slow Dancing in the Big City, Johnny Cool, The Tamarind Seed, and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, which would be the most perverse beach co-feature for this movie imaginable.
Reviewed on June 18, 2021.