Frankie & Annette MGM Movie Legends Collection

Frankie & Annette MGM Movie Legends Collection

The names Frankie and Annette probably aren’t the most recognisable ones to be added to the MGM Movie Legends Collection. Even if we were to mention their full names, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, the likelihood is that the average person on the street would respond with, at best, ambivalence, unless they particularly noted Frankie Avalon’s appearance in Grease. There are, however, some really good reasons to consider picking up the collection. Those reasons are most easily seen in the five included Beach Party films: Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Muscle Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. The Beach Party films are a remarkable example of the camp released in the ’60s to cash in on the then-exploding surfing craze and are wonderfully skewed documents of their time. Each film revolves around the on-again off-again relationship between Avalon and Funicello, while a wacky cast of characters spin off unlikely plots around them, usually featuring rich interlopers with plans for the stars, magical complications such as witch doctors and mermaids, and loads of diegetic music. The joys of the films include seeing footage of legendary musical acts taking part as guest stars, including the Kingsmen, Dick Dale and his Del Tones, and "Little” Stevie Wonder, and observing other symbols of the time, such as Rat Fink, hot rods and an aged Buster Keaton as seen through a Beach Party filter. The remaining three films, Ski Party, Fireball 500 and Thunder Alley, suffer from messing with the original Beach Party formula and feature only Avalon or Funicello, though they remain interesting. The only thing stopping this collection from being recommended without hesitation is the cheap presentation. Although the films are presented in nice, clean DVD transfers, they’re delivered on four plain, double-sided discs in flimsy plastic cases and lack any special features. At full price the set costs too much for merely kitsch value, but if you can find it for less it’s a must have. These are perfect films to waste a Sunday afternoon with. (MGM)