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.
He was the man behind such softcore sleazefests as Girls for Rent (1974), The Naughty Stewardesses (1975) and Cinderella 2000 (1977). He was also the schlockmeister responsible for exploitation classics such as Satan’s Sadists (1969), Five Bloody Graves (1970) and the seriously deranged Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971). He would be the last person you’d expect to make a child-friendly movie but that’s exactly what he attempted with Carnival Magic, which was completed in 1981 but not released until 1983. The film is almost tame enough for a six year old kid but also a terrifically weird and strange experience for older audiences who have seen any of Adamson’s previous work. He’s marching to the beat of a different drummer here and that drummer just happens to be a talking chimpaneze named Alexander the Great. Continue reading