Gidget (1959) Poster

(1959)

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The blonde and bubbly Sandra Dee at her most appealing!
verna5526 September 2000
All right, so it's not a masterpiece of moviemaking, but the film is still widely shown today and adored by most of those who see it. The slight, but very perceptive story concerns a plucky teenage girl nick-named Gidget(contractions of the words Girl and Midget) who mostly just wants to have fun in the sun. There's nothing wrong with that. But she's getting to that certain age where she's beginning to have deeper feelings, especially about the opposite sex. She begins to fall for a more "mature" surf bum(Cliff Robertson), but then finally settles for Moon-doggie(James Darren) who is closer to her own age. Some people might dismiss GIDGET as standard studio corn, but I beg to differ! It's not your typical sixties teen beach movie about surfing, sand, and sex. GIDGET actually has a story to tell. Maybe I'm being slightly sentimental, but to me GIDGET is a beautiful coming-of-age story that can still teach the teenagers of today a valuable lesson about first love. For those of you who didn't already know it, GIDGET was played by the beautiful young Sandra Dee who was a hot item in her day. Dee was seventeen and at her liveliest when she made this film. I would also say she was at her most appealing. She's on the screen for most of the film's 95minutes, and she's an absolute joy to watch for the film's entire running. Needless to say, I thought Dee was irresistably charming in this film. It's easy to see why she was so popular and such an idol to teenage girls in the sixties. She's blonde, beautiful, spirited, and has a terrific personality. It's a pity she doesn't make more films today. Having seen most of her films, I must say that in addition to being a pretty face, she is also a good actress. I could watch her for hours and hours. I may only be a simple 21-year-old boy from cincinnati, but I really enjoy and appreciate older films like this. They're fun and teach a lesson without being too preachy. If you're at the local video store one night and want something that's not too complex and is just good, clean fun, then GIDGET is highly recommended!!!!! And yes, this is the film that spawned the equally popular hit TV series starring another fresh and exciting talent, Sally Field.
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What It Meant to Her at 15 in the Theater in 1959
Plyncie29 November 2005
My grandmother, Mary, was 15 years old when she first saw the first Gidget (1959) movie with Sandra Dee and James Darren, in The New Bell Theatre in Bellflower California. She and her best friend Eunice saw a movie about growing up, discovering boys, and learning lessons. Francie is a 16 year old girl, blonde and pretty, but very young in appearance. She is recruited by her female Francie to begin a "man-hunt" on the beach where they live in sunny California, and Francie reluctantly follows. As they sit on the beach, Francie's friends try to lure the muscular tanned college men over, while the guys are referring to them as jailbait, and Francie urges the girls to join her swimming. It is not that she has no interest in boys, but as Francie told her mother, "when they start smoothing and pawing, UH doesn't it make you sick too mama?!" Mama assures her that she just needs to find the right man. So the search begins.

As we watched the movie, my grandmother pointed out things she had thought as a young adolescent girl, and also things that she thought of now that had been difficult to put into words at a young age. "That blue of the ocean, oh, even as a young girl, from then on it meant sexuality to me," my grandma confides, as she looks to see that no one else heard her. As Francie breaks away from her friends, she begins to find her self more and more, in the middle of a group of about eight very attractive, muscular, and tanned men, all older than she is, teaching her how to ride those big blue waves. The guys call her Gidget, a cross between Girl and Midget, which is a barrier to Francie in the beginning, because it shows that the guys only see her as a little girl.

My grandmother explained as we watched this film together, that this movie was what "made me look at those things in a different way. I had more interest in boys at the end of the movie!" It was the first teenage love story she had ever seen, and she seemed to almost regress to a teenager as we watched the movie together. "Oh, James Darren is such a hunk!" and "I had such a crush on him..."and "what cute clothes she wears!" She commented that after this movie she made it a point to make her wardrobe similar to Sandra Dee's. "Those shirts with the hood like you wear today, they were popular back then too." She went on to say that when girls wanted to get clothes like Gidget's, they shopped at Judy's, and that it was "the absolute place! And I got to shop there!" I could hear her begin to revert to the phrases she used as a teenager as she got excited about the fashions of her childhood.

Before the movie began, my Grandma thought about what she remembered most clearly about the movie. "I remember the dress she wore, and what color it was. It sticks in my mind to this day." During the scene where Gidget gets dressed to go to the luau, my grandmother interrupts the movie to tell me something else. "There's the dress! I don't even like orange, in fact, I hate the color orange...but that's a very special dress to me."

This movie was filmed in vibrant color and shot on the beach in Malibu. This alone drew many young people to the film. It was about discovering sex and growing up, and teenagers of the fifties were very interested. This movie was memorable to my grandma and to her friends of the fifties because of a combination longing to be on a beach surfing with hunky surf bums and the excitement for the beginning of love stories made especially for teens. Sandra Dee was the perfect teenage girl in the eyes of the youth in the fifties, because she was pretty, sweet, innocent, and smart, yet she still had the sense of adventure, rebellion, and need for sex in which the kids of the fifties were becoming more and more interested.
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7/10
Much More Relevant that the Television Series
aimless-4630 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The reputation of the original "Gidget" (1959) has eroded over the years thanks to two weak sequels and a truly dreadful television series. So if you have never seen the original don't dismiss it based on the extremely shallow content of the Gidget stuff that came later. While not a good double-feature match for "Rebel Without a Cause", it is dark and serious enough to still have some relevance

While presenting a rather tame portrait of California's surf and beatnik counterculture, it fits solidly with the better coming-of-age/generational revolution stuff of the 1950's and 60's.

Sixteen year-old Francis Lawrence (Sandra Dee at her most innocent) is the film's title character; girl plus midget equals Gidget. Dee managed to avoid the other two features and the television series but not fatal type casting. She would become more associated with "Tammy" than any other character. Although soon to be a teen idol, looking at her films it is probably difficult for today's audiences to understand her appeal. She was a talented actress with an especially good performance in "The Young and the Innocent" but was never able to transcend the teen idol stigma.

Francis and her more mature and boy hungry friends (watch for "Batgirl's" Yvonne Craig) start their summer vacation trolling the beach for excitement. Francis doesn't really like boys but she can see that they will inevitably become a big factor in her life. Rescued by a boy named Moondoggie (James Darren who was never much of an actor but would also develop into quite a teen idol), Francis is introduced to the surf culture (watch for "Billy Jack's" Tom Laughlin). She is both attracted and repelled by the hedonist freedom and the inherent hypocrisy of the culture's preoccupation with money. In no sense is she the ditzy Gidget later portrayed on television by Sally Fields.

There is a pervasive sexual undertone to the film with the possible loss of Gidget's virginity a unifying theme. But she is essentially a child, and the three main male characters are each protective of her in their own way. Along with Moondoggie are her clueless father (Arthur O'Connell) and The Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson).

Robertson is a combat veteran (Korea) who has basically dropped out and is living in a shack on the beach. Robertson does a good job in a challenging rol, as The Big Kahuna alternates between the seriousness he would soon bring to his portrayal of Jack Kennedy in "PT-109" and the manic qualities of a Dick Shawn character.

Ultimately some irony is introduced as "Moondoggie" turns out to be Jeffrey Mathews, the clean-cut boy Mr. Lawrence has been trying all summer to persuade his daughter to date. Their summer at the beach is just a transitional point on the road to a ranch house in Sherman Oaks.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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10/10
We girls all wanted Moondoggie for our own.
camibear718 May 2002
Gidget was a movie I saw when I was just going into high school. After I saw it I wanted to be Sandra Dee so badly. She was so perky and pretty, and just so naive. It was a great film set on the beach at Malibu. Young juniors in high school going to the beach to get the attention of the college men. Woo who! And all the antics that go with it. Including when Gidget meets James Darren and he is so very dreamy. He took my breath away. Wow that most handsomest man next to John Saxon. Yep I was taken with this young actor. Who was not only handsome, but he could sing too. That song Gidget I had on 45rpm as did all the girls after we all got a load of Sandra Dee and James Darren together. The story is not too complicated, girl likes boy, girl chases boy who is a surfer, girl learns to surf and tries to make boy jealous, boy pretends he is not interested, then comes unglued when she is with someone else. In the end the prettiest girl Gidget gets Moondoggie. This movie was legendary in 1959 and it made alot of girls want to be a surfer like Sandra Dee in the movie. She even shoots the curl with Moondoggie on his board with him. She tells him it is the ultimate! Cliff Robertson plays the Kahuna and the wisest of the group of surfers who sit on the beach all day sunning themselves and goofing off.

I liked this movie so much!
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1950s Retro
Lechuguilla16 March 2010
What a time capsule! A film that hearkens back to a cultural era of innocence, "Gidget" screams 1950s, with clothes, lingo, attitudes, and characters that now seem quaint. Gidget (Sandra Dee), that "pint size" sixteen-year-old who lives in Southern California, scampers down to the beach and takes an instant liking to surfing. In the process, she meets a fraternity of youthful, shirtless beach bums. Surfing, fun, and romantic complications ensue.

All fluffy and frothy in the first half, the film's plot and characters reek of bubble-gum shallowness, with dialogue to match. But the plot turns more dramatic in the second half, and characters show at least some degree of depth. Gidget comes across as smart, determined and, given her age, dubiously skilled at psychology, with words that make a big impression on The Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson), surfers' de facto leader. Ultimately, the film conveys the theme that events and people ... change.

Visuals feature bright, splashy colors and a photogenic cast. Rear-screen projection and cast doubles, for the surfing scenes, look hokey now, but were the norm in those days. Music trends romantic and lively. Naturalistic sound of ocean waves enhances a relaxed, carefree tone.

Although perhaps needed for story balance, plot sequences that involve Gidget's parents seem stodgy, and detract from the main focus on the relationship between Gidget and her beach pals.

Sandra Dee, despite her squeaky voice, gives a performance that was better than I had expected. James Darren and Cliff Robertson add competent support.

If ever there was a film that captures the carefree, innocent life of kids in the 1950s, this is surely it. Undeniably nostalgic to older viewers, and prehistoric to younger viewers, "Gidget" will continue to fascinate, emblematic of an era that will never return.
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5/10
"Honest to goodness it's the absolute ultimate!"
bensonmum21 April 2006
I don't think you can get much further away from the stuff I usually watch like Cannibal Holocaust or Zombi 2 than Sandra Dee and Gidget. It's impossible not to enjoy Dee's performance. She's bubbly, spunky, and cute. What's not to like? Overall, Gidget is a sweet little movie that, for the most part, is entertaining. On the downside, far too often the sweetness turns into sappiness - something I cannot stomach.

Gidget is definitely a product of another time. Incidents that would automatically mean "sex" in a film made today are quite innocent and harmless in Gidget. A girl telling her mother that she wants to feel like a woman only means that she wants to fall in love and have a boyfriend. And watching with jaded 21st Century eyes, it's hard to imagine The Big Kahuna not being brought up on charges.
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5/10
darker than you think
david-197631 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film for what seems like the very first time last night; in fact it may have been the very first time, even though I was probably 12 or 13 the first time it was on TV. Sally Fields's version of the character was on TV then, and it was generally a kind of ditsy role which would not move one to go back and watch the original, and the bulk of the surfer movies were so inane that focusing upon the movie that started it all was not high on my list of cinéaste priorities.

Now that I've watched it I have several things to say.

1. THe "Big Kahuna" character played by Cliff Robertson is a gentle look at the beat generation. Disaffected after his return from the Korean War, the BK has decided to be a "surf bum," i.e., a beat. I'm not sure that we can see this character from that perspective today, but a couple of things should be explained: the BK had been an officer (as are all military pilots, by definition, today) and he was ironically aware of the pretense of his persona.

2. Gidget ("Francie") was an emotionally and physically underdeveloped girl, as symbolized by the fact that all of her girl "friends" are much more buxom than she. You will not find another girl with Sandra Dee's cup size in the entire picture. Her friend "BL," wearing a pixie cut, has been proposed to be a lesbian. but she has an active boy friend and has been "pinned" by him. Far from being symbolic of homosexuality, BL's haircut suggests that she is pehaps a bit more sophisticated than most of Francie's friends.

3. The razing of the kahuna's beach shack is symbolic of the ephemeral quality of the "culture" typified by the surfers and their friends. the fact that "Moondoggie" is also the boy Gidget's father has been trying to get her to meet and date all summer is a bitter irony: these boys and girls will become what they are "supposed" to become by the world in which they live.
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10/10
Surfer Girl Extraordinare!
Noirdame796 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It seems that while I was growing up, my best friend and I could not have a sleepover or a slumber party without watching "Gidget" and "Grease". We rented the former one day and we loved it instantly, slightly dated as it is. We totally identified with Gidget (the adorable Sandra Dee, God rest her soul), who summed up the innocence and longing of teenage love. Our favorite lines were, "Yeah, but what if the young man doesn't know you're alive?" and, " 'To be a real woman is to bring out the best in a man.' Tell that to the boys today." We, of course, couldn't help but remark, "More like today!" It's easy to see why this film inspired so many beach movies of the 60s. We found it particularly amusing how protective and neurotic Gidget's father (Arthur O'Connell) was, and how he wanted her to date suitable college boys. And James Darren was so great as Moondoggie, and he even got to croon a great love tune! It's priceless when Gidget gets one of the surf boys, Hot Shot, to help her make Moondoggie jealous, and Hot Shot backs out of their deal, and Moondoggie steps up to the plate, completely unaware that he was the intended target. Gidget then pretends that it's the Big Kahuna (a young, buff, and tanned Cliff Robertson) she's out to get, and ends up getting in a little deeper than she planned to.

Of course, it all works out in the end. But this movie is a treasure. Now that it's available on DVD, so many people can enjoy it. It takes you back to a simpler time, but at the same moment you can identify with the characters. You may even want to learn how to surf! Best of all, it is a great tribute to Sandra Dee, in her most famous role. "Gidget" is one in a million!

The DVD: While I'm glad I found these great movies in a DVD collection, the formats are no different than the pan and scan VHS tapes that have been in circulation for so long. The original film, in particular, suffers. At least TCM airs it in widescreen, and then the color looks crisp, clear and glorious. Columbia has done the same injustice to countless vintage gems, such as "The Trouble With Angels" and its sequel, "Where Angels Go Trouble Follows". Viewers had to clamor for "Tess" to be released in widescreen format, a special edition, but much of the film's condition had not been cleaned up - lines across the screen, hissy sound. Columbia also has an annoying habit for not including extras, except for some theatrical trailers; a few classic films (Gilda, The Lady From Shanghai, etc) are lucky to have a featurette or a commentary.

These movies and their stars deserve a much better reissuing and presentation on DVD than they have been given - film restoration is important in preserving film history. I am holding out hope that Sony will rerelease the Gidget films and some of the aforementioned in better quality conditions someday, but my hair might be grey by then. Here's a prayer that Sandra Dee's other great teen movie classic from 1959, "A Summer Place" (through Warner Brothers) due for a DVD release in a few days as of this writing, will be restored to widescreen, recapturing its theatrical glory that enchanted and captivated moviegoers way back when.
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10/10
Gidget is about a fun loving girl who gets involved with a group of surfers and has the summer of her life!
RnR4ever1232 March 2005
I have loved this movie ever since the first time I saw it years ago when I was a preteen. Although it is an old movie, it is still quite enjoyable. It was made in 1959 so of course it lacks the newer features which todays movies emit. However, I think the simple, sweet story of first love is a nice escape from the harsh realities of todays world. I always choose movies that provide something I cannot find in real life. I prefer escaping the norm. If I want to see sex and violence all I have to do is watch the news.

Gidget takes us all back to a simpler time and place where we can relive the memories of our youth or imagine how it might have been. I not only own the video but I also watch it on television whenever it airs. Having just finished watching again, I have to say that the idea that BL was a lesbian never entered my mind. They speak about how she has it made cause she wears her boyfriends pin. I always took that to mean that she was involved in a relationship with a guy who just happened to be away at college or working a lot. Just cause someone has short hair doesn't make them a lesbian in my mind and I think the person who made that comment was way off base and didn't really follow the conversations of the movie closely.

I love all of the Gidget movies, however to me Sandra Dee will always be the ultimate Gidget and I am sad that we have lost her recently.
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A very cute story
keelz18 September 2000
Gidget is a really cute story.It shows the teens of today like myself what the teen movies we love today were like as they were just getting popular...it shows what the teens enjoyed before American Pie,She's All that and Cruel Intentions etc. I saw this in class but i'm glad i did...its becoming one of my favorite movies...yea some of it is kind of cheesy since its from 1950's but if your a teen and you see it in Blockbuster one day...rent it! you'll enjoy it.
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5/10
Girl + midget = Gidget
moonspinner5515 April 2006
Squealing Sandra Dee is an underdeveloped sixteen-year-old in Southern California who is prodded by her friends into finding a man; she ingratiates herself to a bunch of good-hearted surfing boys, but only because she's genuinely interested in learning to surf (they soon realize she's different, but that doesn't stop romance from happening!). Ultra clean-cut growing pains comedy-drama, kept very light and lively, with poppy music and pretty, if repetitive, surfing footage. It is somewhat responsible for the string of surfing movies and TV shows which flooded the market in the 1960s...and yet, one hopes it will be better than it is. Sandra Dee doesn't really sparkle, and acts almost victimized when a guy comes onto her. Still, the picture was popular with similar girls and provides a soft, romantic sell to the fellas and to parents. It's as G-rated as can be. ** from ****
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'Gidget' - 'girl midget' - Sandra Dee was born to play this role.
TxMike4 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was made in 1959, when I was a teenager too. It was a simpler time, and this is a fresh movie, compared to all the forced sex and dirty language added to most 'teen' movies nowadays. Sandra Dee was 14, or maybe barely 15, when 'Gidget' was filmed, but she comes across as much more mature. In fact, my wife guessed incorrectly that she was around 22. She may not have had a long or productive career, but she was just perfect as the gidget befriending a group of surfer bums that memorable summer in California.

SPOILERS follow, don't read the rest, OK!?

Mom and dad want to fix their daughter up with this nice young man, a musician, son of an upstanding family. But she wants no part of her parents' plan, instead hanging out with her girl friends. One day at the beach, some somewhat older boys, and one 30-something beach bum, ignore the girls, but 'Moondoggie' goes out and saves 'Gidget' when she becomes entangled in seaweed. She gets hooked on surfing, buys a used board, by mid-summer is surfing as 'one of the guys.' She has fallen for 'Moondoggie' (James Darren, 23) but he just looks at her as a kid. When he eventually comes around, they find out that they are each the same two people that their parents' had tried to fix them up with at the start of the movie. And, 'Kahuna', the 30-something beach bum, was on his way to a new job, as a pilot, deciding to make something of his life. Not Earth-shaking, just a sweet, innocent movie, and so much fun to see Sandra Dee in it.
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10/10
Gidget is the girl for me
carmen311130 August 2002
I remember when I first received that movie. I fell in love with it right away. I could actually say the script word for word. "Keep your shirt on, she's coming!" Sandra was fun and exciting in this film. Her bubbling energy kept me laughing and glued to my seat. I recommend anyone to watch it for some innocent and old fashioned values. For example when Kim Novak was preparing dinner and she had salad and lemonade all sitting there before her family was home. Now, how many people have actually experienced that? It takes me to the time when life was innocent and we could use the word 'gay' to mean happy.
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7/10
Harmless Entertainment
dgz785 July 2006
Okay, no one will ever put this movie alongside The Godfather or Citizen Kane in the pantheon of great movies (at least I hope not). And maybe it wasn't even realistic about teen life in 1959. But as entertainment this is sure a lot better than scores of movies (think Waterworld or Ishtar) that believed they were a good way for people to spend a couple hours of their lives. Gidget may not aim high but it hit the exact spot it was aiming for.

With a daughter about to turn 21, I sure wish girls spent their teenage years interacting with boys the way Gidget did. Never worrying about drugs or alcohol, knowing not to let boys take advantage of her. Listening to the Four Preps instead of that damn rap music today.

Sandra Dee does a great job of playing a teenager (which shouldn't have been a stretch for her in 1959 unlike James Darren or the other surfers). She does a great job of acting like she's really on a real surfboard in those rear projection shots. I mean, I'm sure Gidget and Moondoggie could surf a few feet from each other all the while giving meaningful glances at each other. And while Arthur O'Connell does a good job as her father, I've never been able to picture him as anything other than a determined bachelor after his role in Picnic.

So if you have a couple of hours that you just want to veg out on the couch and give your brain a rest, you could do a lot worse than spend it with Gidget. RIP Sandra!
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6/10
Original Gidget A Pip
CitizenCaine16 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Gidget was noteworthy for being one of the first beach/surf movies. Sandra Dee is perfect as the original Gidget, a teenager trying to sort out her feelings about boys and being popular during the summer between her junior and senior years in high school. Dee exudes beauty, charm, determination, energy, and innocence as the peppy Gidget. James Darren is Moondoggie, the spoiled college beach bum who idolizes the carefree surfer's lifestyle illustrated by the big kahuna played by Cliff Robertson. Robertson hardly stretches his range as the big kahuna, a mentor to Gidget and the rest of the surfers.

Mary Laroche and Arthur O'Connell play Gidget's parents as strictly from squares-ville. O'Connell especially fits the mold of a typically overreacting parent, circa 1959, chasing after Gidget one night when he discovers that Gidget might be alone with a man, gasp! Laroche is more reserved and proper as Gidget's mother who dispenses no shortage of homespun advice about being a teenage girl to Gidget. Gidget's girlfriends play a much smaller role in this film than in the sequels that followed. There is also less music and dancing in this original version than in the films that follow it.

As the summer draws to a close, Moondoggie and the big kahuna face some tough decisions regarding their futures, and Gidget inadvertently plays a role in influencing both of them. The film balances the fun and innocence of being 1950's teenagers with the larger message of being responsible and patient about one's future. Although Moondoggie initially rescues Gidget from getting caught in some kelp, the film does a good job of making Gidget a well-rounded person instead of just another helpless female waiting to be rescued by her male co-star throughout the picture. Doug McClure and Tom Laughlin have bit roles as fellow surfer bums. The film was followed by two theatrical sequels, a television series, a few more made for television movies, and still another brief series in the mid 1980's. **1/2 of 4 stars.
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4/10
Gidget Gets Started
wes-connors2 September 2007
Sandra Dee gets to play the first "Gidget" (combining "Girl and Midget"). She's seems too made-up and beautiful for the role, but she acts the perkiness well. James Darren has a good role with "Moondoggie". Cliff Robertson is the "The Big Kahuna" of the beach. At different times, Ms. Dee's Gidget seems to want to: have fun, have sex, grow up, grow out, stay young, and/or learn to surf (which is not at all unusual). Most of all, Gidget wants a boyfriend.

This film seems much more significant in hindsight; since, the Gidget character proved to be so enduring, and filmmakers discovered an audience for teenagers in swimsuits was ready for action. As a film, "Gidget" only fair, and its story is standard. The most interesting part was Mr. Robertson's character - do you want him to "grow up" and leave the beach, or should he become an old beach bum? You do get an answer, at the end of the movie. Also interesting is how Robertson relates to the younger characters. The music is slight. Mr. Darren does the title song nicely (later on); and, the soundtrack often sounds like the melody to "Tammy" is about to begin.

**** Gidget (4/10/59) Paul Wendkos ~ Sandra Dee, James Darren, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell
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6/10
So-so
Jessica-65629 September 2008
I remember enjoying this movie when I saw it years ago on TV, so I decided to rent it on DVD, but it didn't register as well this time around. I believe this is the film that made Sandra Dee a big star, but her lack of acting skill really grated on me several times, especially when she was supposed to be bubbling over with enthusiasm, though several people here (not to mention contemporary fans) obviously thought she did a great job. On the other hand, she really was cute as a button, and the right age for her role (17), or perhaps even 2 years younger, if it's true about her birth date being falsified. I was surprised that Gidget's parents would be so concerned about her date not coming to her home to pick her up, but had no problem with their daughter spending all day, every day with an older, all-male crowd whom they never met! As for the movie itself, the obviously fake surfing shots annoyed me, and Gidget's first near-drowning made me think of the saying "When you're really drowning, you don't make much noise, because there's too much water coming in". I would have been more impressed with Moondoggie if he'd noticed something was wrong without a lot of fuss! Anyway, this film does have a bit more substance than some of the other "teen" movies of the time, and it's a pleasant way to spend 95 minutes.
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8/10
glossy pic of the California surf scene, but an important surfing movie
larlekool29 November 2006
the film had loads of late 50s surfing symbols which had a lot to do with the surfing explosion of the mid-60s on the east coast. it had a sun loving and easy going lifestyle feel which accurately summed up California attitudes of the day. yes, glossy and middle of the road, but a huge surfing film nonetheless. in addition, there are subtle references to booze and sex. for nostalgic value, there isn't a boomer around who wouldn't be immediately mesmerized by this swinging movie. for surfers, the long boards are of interest. car lovers will love the vintage cars. the concept of the surfing shack was something not present on east coast beaches, and one wonders if the the local beach patrol would have allowed such a building to be built and occupied on a public beach. maybe in hawaii, but not California. the beach is assumed to be the famous surfing beach, malibu; however reference is made to santa monica. whatever, we know the movie is taking place in southern cali. if one were to guess the year, one is tempted to say early 60s--say, 1962 or 63. but the film is significant because it documents a solid, burgeoning beach culture which had been in place since the years immediately following W.W. 2. this film is a rich summation of what transpired on the beaches of southern California in the 1950s.
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9/10
The unofficial start
RNMorton16 May 2004
Probably the genesis of the Grade-B surfing and Beach Blanket movies, no mean feat in my humble opinion. Dee is spunky teen (only 15 when this was filmed!) who gets in over her head, in more ways than one, hanging out with the older guy surfers. The boys don't know whether to take her seriously or not, until she ends up on "old-timer" Robertson's couch with the lights off and the fire roaring..... Light comedy/drama played straight by the actors to a pleasing finale. Kind of ahead of its time, it has more of an early-mid 60's than a 50's feel. There's only one real Gidget - this one - which was followed by several inferior movie and television productions, none involving Dee. Frankie Avalon stole Robertson's character name, the Big Kahuna, for his 1987 beach blanket reprise "Back to the Beach".
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9/10
Cool, retro edge
SurfBrahSC17 April 2006
"The Endless Summer" it ain't. Still "Gidget" has a cool quality about it, being the original. Though the movie is kinda cheesy in places (a little bit of that surf meets Hollywood thing going' on), but it's cool. Takes me back to the days of surfing L.A. beaches as a kid. If only one could still find a board for $25. And those surfers are definitely hot. Especially that Tom Loughlin dude. A very cool, hot Loverboy. Always thought he was a really good looking guy. That red swimsuit on him is definitely something. In my opinion, "Gidget" edges the "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" sequel. I think it is definitely better than the third one (in Rome) though.
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6/10
time capsules forever
lee_eisenberg25 October 2008
On the one hand, "Gidget" looks like an intelligence-challenged flick, as the cute teenage girl goes to the beach to possibly meet boys. But I think that there's more to it than just that. As far as I could tell, the movie also looked at her burgeoning sexuality and her uncertainty thereof. Plus, the girls wear pants; wouldn't that have looked a little tomboyish in the '50s? What I'm saying is that people need to watch this movie again. While it remains a 1950s time capsule, I got the sense that something - I don't know what exactly - hinted at the changes coming over the next decade. In case anybody chooses to call this movie stupid, I totally reject that. "Stupid" is the description that I would apply to Eddie Murphy's movies from the past few years, or any Steven Seagal movie. As for Sandra Dee herself, from what I've read about her it sounds as though she was a pretty intelligent person, having far more substance than her movie roles implied.

Anyway, I recommend this movie. Also starring James Darren and Cliff Robertson. That means that Cliff Robertson is the only actor who has worked with Sandra Dee and Tobey Maguire (in "Spiderman").
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7/10
fresh waves
SnoopyStyle14 July 2019
Francie Lawrence (Sandra Dee) is sixteen going on seventeen. She follows her friends who are out manhunting at the beach. She gets in trouble while swimming and gets rescued by surfer Moondoggy (James Darren). Her father tries to set her up with a proper gentleman but all she wants to do is surf. She befriends The Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson) who follows the waves around the globe. The guys give her the nickname Gidget, girl plus midget.

I'm a little surprised by some of the rougher edges. I was expecting Frankie and Annette but this has a few aspects that are more interesting. The fact that she starts out more as a tomboy is interesting. The fact that she's surfing is outright ahead of its time. The Big Kahuna's globetrotting beach bum lifestyle is interesting. The guys taking in the little girl as one of their own is interesting. This does usher in the new genre of beach party movies. It's tiki torches and long wood surf boards. It does get into an uncomfortable age difference. It would have been great if Kahuna is simply joking around from the start. It is still struggling with some old fashion romantic entanglements. This is a very good teen movie and starting a new genre deserves some praise.
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6/10
Pleasant teen film
utgard1414 August 2017
Likable teenage soap about a tomboy (Sandra Dee) who falls for a beach bum (James Darren) while discovering her love for surfing. This is not at all a comedy and I'm not sure why it's listed that way, here and everywhere else you look. It doesn't even try to be funny outside of some of the surfer dudes' lines. It's a relic of its time and youth culture. Similar to the Frankie & Annette Beach Party movies, but without the singing and not as much fun. Sandra Dee's adorableness carries the whole movie. Inspired a later TV series starring Sally Field that I liked a lot as a kid.
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a classic summer story
Kirpianuscus23 June 2016
love, teenagers, beach, sun, ocean , surfing. and the love story. after the strange, vulgar, complicated films with/about teenagers from our time, Gidget represents a fresh air. because it propose a simple story. because all seems be result of a form of romanticism who defines , in same measure, existence of each teenager and his desires. and, sure, for Sandra Dee, who gives the expected image of next door girl neighbor. the need to be part of group. the emotion of first love. the choice. the charm of appearances. the fundamental lesson about life. the conflict, suspicion and disillusion. the acceptance of truth. all in the seductive, simple way. so, a nice experience.
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