Ski Party is a 1965 American musical comedy film directed by Alan Rafkin and starring Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman. It was released by American International Pictures (AIP). Ski Party is considered as a beach party film spin-off, with a change of setting from the beach to the ski slopes – although the final scene places everyone back at the beach.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alan Rafkin|
|Produced by||Gene Corman|
|Written by||Robert Kaufman|
Robert Q. Lewis
|Music by||Guy Hemric|
|Cinematography||Arthur E. Arling|
|Edited by||Morton Tubor|
American International Pictures
|Distributed by||American International Pictures (1965, original)|
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment (2003 and 2007, DVD Video)
Todd Armstrong (Avalon) and Craig Gamble (Hickman) are California college undergraduates who unsuccessfully date co-eds Linda Hughes (Deborah Walley) and Barbara Norris (Yvonne Craig). Arrogant, handsome, athletic classmate Freddie (Aron Kincaid) has no such problems and chooses not to fight off all the women chasing after him. As president of the Ski Club, Freddie organizes a midterm vacation trip to ski country (in gorgeous Sawtooth National Forest) in Idaho. Although they know nothing about skiing, Todd and Craig follow Linda and Barbara on this bus trip, to try to learn "the secret of Freddie's technique".
Once at the rustic ski resort, Todd and Craig pose as frumpy, non-threatening, young English women, Jane and Nora, with terrible accents. When not interrupted by a mysterious ice skating, yodeling polar bear, or toying with psychologically-imbalanced and lederhosen-clad lodge manager Mr. Pevney (Robert Q. Lewis), they observe the girls in their group up close, to learn how to succeed with women, and figure out how they have gone wrong.
To make Linda jealous, Todd attracts the attention of gorgeous, curvy Swedish ski instructor Nita (Bobbi Shaw) when he's dressed as himself. But Freddie becomes obsessed with Craig when Craig is dressed as a woman, not accustomed to girls who play "hard to get". Nita persuades Todd, over Freddie's goading, to compete in a ski jump against Freddie. Todd's jump, featuring absurdly comical special effects, forces Craig to shoot him down, resulting in a broken leg.
Todd crawls through miles of deep snow, late at night, with his broken leg covered in a plaster cast, to Nita's house. Toting a bottle, he learns that Nita is not the exotic minx she pretends to be, but aspires to be treated like an "American girl", that is, with much "talk" and little "action".
Back at the lodge, Freddie, still obsessed with Craig's "female" character, Nora, tries to break down "Nora's" room door. Stuck inside, Todd and Craig contemplate their next move as they escape through a window. Somehow, they hail a taxi, and rack up an enormous fare to Santa Monica, California. Freddie follows on a moped piloted by fur-coated lodge manager Pevney. The rest of the group abruptly ends its spring break and follows behind on the bus.
Todd, Linda, Craig, and Barbara arrive, with the rest of the group and Pevney, at Todd's parents' beachfront house. There, the two couples share their true feelings and the boys surprise the girls with their ruse.
Delusional Freddie runs into the Pacific Ocean, calling to his beloved Nora, after Craig tells him that when she heard Freddie was coming, she started swimming: By now, she is "somewhere between here and Japan." Craig encourages Freddie to hurry; maybe he can catch her "somewhere near Guam".
"Pretty mean thing to do," Craig says to the audience, reassuring us that they will tell Freddie everything tomorrow, "If he comes back..."
- Annette Funicello contributes an opening cameo role as the boys' desirable but modestly dressed biology tutor, Professor Sonya Roberts.
- Avalon and Hickman appeared together again – after trading their character names with each other – in AIP's Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.
- Meredith MacRae appeared (uncredited) as the girl on the bus behind Lesley Gore.
In December 1964, AIP announced the film would follow Beach Blanket Bingo, then be followed by How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. James H. Nicholson and Sam Arkoff hired Gene Corman to produce after watching The Girls on the Beach. Corman hired the director, Alan Rafkin, and writer, Robert Kaufman, from television.
Dwayne Hickman made the film immediately after Cat Ballou and for the same salary. He later wrote "it may have seemed like a strange carer decision to go from a classic comedy Western like Cat Ballou to an AIP date movie like Ski Party but at the time Cat was really just a B movie for Columbia."
Hickman says he "hit it off immediately" with co star Avalon "and decided that we should play the characters like Hope and Crosby. Frankie would be the Crosby-like character, smart, in-charge and slick, while I would play the Hope role and be the bumbler. We added a lot of physical business which helped a not very imaginative script."
AIP wanted John Ashley to play Freddy, but Corman felt he looked too much like Avalon. The producer instead cast Aaron Kincaid, who had been in Corman's previous two beach films.
Los Angeles City College (a two-year institution in East Hollywood) was the location used for the unnamed university in the film. The outdoor snow scenes were filmed in and around Sun Valley, Idaho over three weeks, and the film gives screen credit to Idaho's Sawtooth National Forest. There were also some scenes shot at the beach.
In March 1965, one week into filming, AIP were so happy with the rushes that they announced Kaufman, Corman and Rafkin would make Cruise Party immediately afterwards.
James Brown said he "felt like [he] was in a straitjacket" during his appearance.
Hickman said making the film "was a totally enjoyable experience" and AIP soon offered him a lead role in How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. The studio would then reunite him and Avalon in Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.
Ski Party is punctuated with musical numbers by Lesley Gore, who sings Marvin Hamlisch's "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" on the bus, and James Brown & The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth, and Bobby Bennett) who sing and shimmy through "I Got You (I Feel Good)" in the lodge, having been humorously cast as the "white bread" resort's all-black ski patrol.
The Hondells sing two songs written by Gary Usher and Roger Christian – the title track, off-camera, then appearing in beach attire for the closing track, "The Gasser", on Sorrento Beach in Santa Monica.
Avalon sings the surf-rock "Lots, Lots More" (by Richie Adams and Larry Kusik), and is joined by Hickman, Walley and Craig for the Holiday-styled "Paintin' the Town" (written by Bob Gaudio of The Four Seasons).
Walley and Craig sing "We'll Never Change Them", a song by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner, originally written as "I'll Never Change Him" and sung by Annette Funicello in a scene cut from Beach Blanket Bingo.
The Los Angeles Times said the dialogue "seems awfully childish even for teenagers", but liked the musical acts.
Both Columbia Pictures and Universal Studios produced their versions of snowbound beach party films: Columbia's Winter a Go-Go was released four months later in October 1965, and Universal's Wild Wild Winter was released in January 1966.
Ski Party was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on April 15, 2003, as part of a double-sided disc, with Ski Party on side two of the disc; and also on July 10, 2007, as part of the box set The Frankie and Annette Collection, with Ski Party on the fourth disc.
- "Hitchcock Signs for Three at Universal." Los Angeles Times, 11 Dec. 1964: D17
- Lisanti p. 232
- Hickman p. 174
- Hickman p. 175
- Lisanto p. 233
- Hickman p. 175
- Martin, Betty. "Call Sheet: Ben Casey Deal." Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 1965: D13.
- Rose, Cynthia (1990). Living in America: The Soul Saga of James Brown. Serpent's Tail. p. 44.
- Hickman p. 178
- Harford, Margaret. "Humor in Ski Film Is an Uphill Battle All the Way." Los Angeles Times, 13 Aug. 1965: C9
- "Film Company Seeks a New Locale for Its Teen-Age Movies." New York Times, 6 Nov. 1965: 18.
- "Dell Movie Classic: Ski Party". Grand Comics Database.
- Dell Movie Classic: Ski Party at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- Hickman, Dwayne; Roberts, Joan (1994). Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman. Carol Pub. Group.
- Lisanti, Tom (2005). Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969. McFarland & Co.