Thank goodness for And God Created Woman .
Not only did the 1956 film turn Brigitte Bardot into every male adolescent’s sexual fantasy, it also made the bikini a respectable piece of apparel in America. The devilish little two-piece was invented by the incongruous combination of a French engineer, Louis RA[c]ard, and fashion designer Jacques Heim in 1946, but immediately was banned in Portugal, Spain and Italy, and was later described as a “thoughtless act” by none other than the mermaidian Esther Williams.
These days, one hardly bats an eye at barely-there bikinis on beaches everywhere from Saint-Tropez (those French!) to Ipanema (those Brazilians!)not to mention the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. But its stature really is as much about the silver screen as the sandy shores. Think Ursula Andress in white in Dr. No; Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. (OK, so she wasn’t at the beach, but who cared?) and Phoebe Cates emerging from a swimming pool in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in her skimpy red number. More recently, there was Halle Berry reprising the Andress moment by stepping out of the Cuban waters in a bright orange bikini in the Bond flick Die Another Day, and Demi Moore’s grand entrance back into Hollywood with her bikini moment in Charlie’s Angels II: Full Throttle .
But face it, for all its impact on fashion, culture and the Sexual Revolution, there’s also always been a bit of silliness involved with the two-piece. Consider “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka DotBikini.” In that spirit, here are some of the wackiest films ever with “bikini” in the title.
Bikini Beach (1964): Just one of the Beach Party series directed by William Asher and released in the Sixties. The films featured hordes of swimsuit-clad boys and girls who always seemed to be doing The Twist to a record player on the beach and getting into madcap scrapes that had Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello falling in love, out of love and in love againeven into their 30s. Though Funicello didn’t sport a bikini for the filmsat the strict request of Walt Disneyshe did don a respectable, polka-dotted two-piece for the movie’s posters.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965): Vincent Price and Frankie Avalon star in this sci-fi/comedy in which mad scientist Dr. Goldfoot (Price) plans on taking over the world with beautiful female robotsclad in bikinis, no less. Secret agent Craig Gamble (Avalon) and millionaire Todd Armstrong (Dwayne Hickman) try to thwart his plans, but instead end up in the torture chamber. Hey, it could happen….
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965): No, not another sci-fi flickor one in the X-rated section of the DVD store. This 1965 film was yet another installment in Asher’s Beach Party series and was the final appearance for both Avalon and Funicello. This time around, Frankie (Avalon), on naval-reserve duty in Tahiti, doesn’t quite trust girlfriend Dee Dee (Funicello) to stay faithful, so he hires Bwana (Buster Keaton), a witch doctor, to keep an eye on things. Those crazy kids!
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966): Yet another in the Beach Party series, but without Frankie and Annette, who’d decided they’d had enough sun and sand and went off to make Fireball 500 . The only one of the series not to be set at the beach (raising questions as to why the ghost is in abikini in the first place), the film tells of recently deceased Hiram Stokley (Boris Karloff, no less), who learns he has 24 hours to execute one good deed in order to get into Heaven. He enlists the help of his very dead girlfriend, Cecily (obviously a ghost), in order to stop his greedy lawyer and henchmen from claiming his estate for themselves. And, yes, there is a real bikini moment, when the true heirsled by Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walleybring their beach-party friends to the mansion for a pool party. Alas, Tommy and Deborah were no Frankie and Annette and the movie was a flop.
Bikini Squad (1993): What’s more ridiculous than the TV show Baywatch ? A spoof on it. The synopsis: A director is hired to finish the season of Bikini Squad , a popular show about a bunch of lifeguards. Not surprisingly, the cast members have absolutely no talent and the shooting becomes one disaster after another. Waitis this a spoof, or is it just a really bad movie…or both? Ultimate trivia: One of its stars is Clayton Halsey, otherwise known as Go-fer on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard .
Bikini Drive-In (1994): This sexed-up film revolves around college gal Kim, who inherits a failing drive-in movie theater business from her grandfather. Like any intelligent, creative college kid, she drums up new business by hiring girls in bikinis who strut their stuff for local theatergoers. Cameos from horror film faves such as Conrad Brooks and Forrest J. Ackerman add some notability, although it borders on soft porn. But Ashlie Rhey, who played Kim, turned the bikini into a bit of a careershe went on to appear in films including Bikini Seasons 2 and Bikini Hoe-Down .
Bikini Bloodbath (2006): Does the title give too much away? Yes, it is about a bunch of hot chicks inbikinis getting hacked up by a bad man on the loose. The movie revolves around an all-girl slumber party (on the last day of high school) and a French chef, who shows up and starts laying into people with a meat cleaver. Think it sounds stupid? Well, the movie has already spawned two sequels BikiniBloodbath Christmas (honest) and Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash proving, once again, that you can never take the bikini too seriously.