The Beach Party movie genre was a huge hit in the 1960s when times were politically, racially and territorially charged.

The Beach Party movie genre was a popular style of film peddled to teenagers in the 1960s. After the success of movies like Rebel Without a Cause, Hollywood clued in to the lucrative teen movie genre and began producing the popular sub-genre: the teen-centric beach movie.

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in their first beach film, Beach Party

These beach party-themed movies typically involved some guy trying to get the attention of some girl or vice versa. Adults are secondary and often moronic characters (except that one fun guy who owns the beach shack they hang out at!). Often, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon led a wholesome group of kids in a surfing competition while Elvis showed up to play a song or two.

So why were these vapid plots and sandy settings so popular in the 1960s? It was a time when teens feared getting shipped off to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement was reaching a fevered, violent pitch. It was a time when role models like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy were being assassinated one right after the next. Teenagers needed an escape; they needed a world without adults, without rules, where everything seemed simple and everyone had a good time.

Find out more about the rise and fall of the beach party movie genre in the video below: