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Movies: “Muscle Beach Party”

Mar. 25, 1964 - Opening today is “Muscle Beach Party,” the second beach party film produced by American International Pictures. It stars Frankie Avalon (left) and Annette Funicello (right) and was directed by William Asher, who directed its predecessor, “Beach Party” (1963). Dick Dale and the Del-Tones and 13-year-old Little Stevie Wonder (center) appear in musical numbers, the latter making his film debut. In the supporting cast are Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, and Peter Lorre, who died two days ago.

In the story, Frankie (Avalon), Dee Dee (Funicello), and the beach party gang hit Malibu Beach for another summer of surfing and no jobs — only to find their secret surfing spot threatened by a gang of bodybuilders led by the dim-witted coach Jack Fanny (Rickles). All the while, a bored Italian countess (Luciana Paluzzi) is trying to steal Frankie from Dee Dee and, much to everyone’s surprise, he seems more than happy to go along with it. The countess’s plan is to turn Frankie into a teen idol.


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