Ho Daddy! Surf’s up in This Off-Kilter 1960s Beach Party Flick
DIRECTED BY LESLIE H. MARTINSON/1964
BLU-RAY STREET DATE: JUNE 22, 2021/SCORPION RELEASING (VIA KINO LORBER)
To enter the world of 1964’s For Those Think Young is to enter an alternate universe. One where the college set consists of thirty-somethings who wear suits to go out on dates. Everything is lily-white, and only the older folks work for a living. The scope and turns and color really pop! It’s far out!
That, though, ought to be a large part of the appeal in deciding to watch any 1960s “teenager movie” of the then-happenin’ beach party niche of comedy. After all, anyone who’s anyone knows that Gidget and the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello flicks were transparent attempts to cash in the emerging “youth market” in America. That fresh angle on good ol’ capitalism- targeting the teen and college dollar- was probably the most cutting-edge aspect of these supposedly fresh-faced drive-in programmers.
Though surfing, bikinis, and frivolity figure prominently in any and all such marketing, these movies had square hearts. A half-inch beneath the rock n’ roll veneer one inevitably finds prudish gals in snits over their lunkheaded, loveable dudes. Aging movie stars like Buster Keaton and Boris Karloff always turned up, often netting far too much subplot than the marketing let on. Even the ubiquitous swimwear is pretty conservative.
For Those Who Think Young– an anomalous one-off of the form that isn’t from the dominant American International Pictures (AIP) or Roger Corman- takes the beach party movie to next-levels of both tone deafness and boundaries-challenging. It bends rules of decorum and legality that Frankie and Annette never would (the sexual heat goes high though still never full-on ignites, but all the overt humor has moss on it). This malformed little safari hits the turf courtesy of United Artists and prestige executive producer Howard W. Koch.
But then, when the title of the film itself isn’t a title but instead a label signaling its intended audience (“For Those Who Think Young”? Really??), it’s a sure sign that the Powers That Be behind the scenes aren’t exactly hip to their chosen scene. When something intended for teens is branded as such, you can be certain that the one thing it is notis cool, in any way.
And wait a minute Chester- it’s worse: the film’s title is derived from Pepsi’s slogan of the moment, “Now It’s Pepsi For Those Who Think Young”. The soft drink is just one of several prominent instances of product placement. In those days when product placement was almost entirely still the stuff of television, this too might’ve been cutting-edge… for all the wrong reasons.
Then there’s the dueling storylines, which intermingle only in contrivance. Young-ish leads James Darren and Pamela Tiffin make for a cardboard romantic couple. His playboy lifestyle (complete with a dim bachelor pad and a butler!) seizes up when his shallow attraction for her gives way to legitimate caring. Meanwhile, the twist is that she seems fully onboard and even turned on by the notion of the shallow fling. Now what’s this about it being more…?
Tiffin’s uncle (comedian Woody Woodbury) and his on-stage partner (Paul Lynde) aren’t happy to see her and Darren coming around to the 21+ clubs where they perform. When we first meet Woodbury & Lynde, they’re a musical act performing numbers that would’ve been stale on vaudeville. When Woodbury switches to club comedy, he suddenly becomes the favorite of the college kids, who hang on his every joke. The thing is, though, his jokes are no fresher than their former tunes. As For Those Who Think Young wears on, it becomes increasingly apparent that the filmmakers are more invested in boosting the career of Woody Woodbury than making a beach movie. And it feels… off.
The director is Leslie H. Martinson, who would helm Batman: the Movie, starring Adam West, just a few years later. As witnessed with that hallowed effort, Martinson’s ability to commingle the comedically daft with the interminable is on display here. One of screenwriters is the voice of George Jetson himself, George O’Hanlon, who’d written most of his “Joe McDoakes” live-action-comedy shorts (1942-1956). These creatives may account for some of the loopier choices throughout the film.
One thing that For Who Think Young is known for is its supporting cast. The daughters of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra and Claudia Martin, have prominent parts. Look for a younger Ellen Burstyn, billed as “Ellen McRae”, as a doctor. George Raft turns up as a detective, and is the final film of Robert Armstrong (King Kong).
Perhaps most singled out, Gilligan’s Island castmates Bob Denver (hamming it up in a short beard) and Tina Louise (as a PG-rated stripper in the club). Denver steals any scenes he’s in, often paired with Nancy Sinatra who tends to draw little upside-down eyes and a nose on his chin just before he sings his conky song, “Ho Daddy! Surf’s Up!” Martinson shoots his singing upside-down chin in freaky close-up as the beach frolickers dance in a choreographed circle. Of everything in For Those Who Think Young, these unintentionally ritualistic sequences are the most unforgettable.
Scorpion Releasing (by way of Kino Lorber) has issued For Those Who Think Young on Blu-ray, preserving its wider-than-thou (for this sort of thing) 2.35:1 aspect ratio and vibrancy. For bonus features, it’s just the film’s trailer and a few others.
For those old enough to want to think young again, and for those young enough to be curious about For Those Who Think Young, Scorpion’s Blu-ray will get them through the night. It’s not a prime example of the cheesy form, but it is a literally colorful and well composed one, even as it’s also lily-white, cardboard, too long, a Pepsi ad, and slightly more subversive than your typical beach party a-go-go.