West Coast surfers in the late fifties knew Bruce Brown as a fellow surfer who started filming his surfing exploits with his buddies before Gidget became a best-selling novel in 1957. Hollywood bought the rights and turned it into a hit movie in 1959 starring Sandra Dee. For most movie audiences, it was their first exposure to the popular sport of surfing but Brown was already well known among California surfers before that due to his own surfing movies. He would shoot them without sound and travel around showing them to fellow surfers while narrating the footage in person; occasionally a yet-to-be-famous band called The Beach Boys provided musical accompaniment.. His first documentary effort Slippery When Wet appeared in 1958 and he followed it up with six more surfing features over the next seven years. It was in 1965 when Brown became a household name after the release of The Endless Summer, a surprise box office hit that inspired a whole new generation of surfers and ended up on the top ten list of many major film critics. In 2010 it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress which solidified its reputation as the holy grail of surfing documentaries.
If you are a dedicated fan of movie musicals, you have probably been tempted to venture beyond the realm of Hollywood’s golden era to explore classic musicals from other countries like France (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964), Germany (The 3 Penny Opera, 1931) or England (Evergreen, 1934). You would certainly have no trouble discovering top rated favorites from India which produces between 1,500 to 2,000 Bollywood movies a year, most of which include at least three to five musical numbers. It might be harder though to dig up a famous film musical from countries as diverse as…say, Sweden, Japan or Egypt…but they definitely exist and there are more than you would think. What you probably haven’t seen is a socialist musical from Russia or any of its satellite countries during the Communist regime. There’s a reason for that. Those films weren’t exported outside Iron Curtain countries during that era but you can experience a highly entertaining sampler of the genre in East Side Story, a documentary on Marxist musicals that premiered in U.S. theaters in 1997.