Don’t Make Waves (1967): Fluffy Romantic Comedy, Starring Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Sharon Tate

Alexander Mackendrick directed Don’t Make Waves, a romantic sex comedy, starring Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Dave Draper and Sharon Tate.

Distributed by MGM the film is based on the 1959 novel Muscle Beach, by Ira Wallach, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

The film depicts romantic triangles between different groupings, set in such unique Southern California settings as swimming pools, bodybuilding, beach life, fantastic real estate, mudslides, metaphysical gurus.

Carlo Cofield, a tourist visiting California’s west coast, has not arranged lodging, when his car is smashed. The reckless driver is carefree, attractive Italian artist Laura Califatti (Cardinale), who offers her couch for Carlo for the night.

This arrangement displeases Rod Prescott, a wealthy swimming-pool builder as Laura is his mistress. After being kicked out of Laura’s, Carlo sleeps on the beach and nearly drowns. He is rescued by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from junior gorgeous surfer named Malibu, who Carlo pursues romantically.

After renting a house near the ocean, Carlo cons sweet but naïve bodybuilder Harry, Malibu’s boyfriend, that sex is harmful to his body. He also bribes the phony psychic “Madame Lavinia,” who is actually a man, to discourage Harry from seeing Malibu.

Rod decides to give the persistent Carlo a job as pool salesman. When the affair with Laura is discovered by Rod’s wife Diane, she demands divorce.

A quarrel develops, and a mudslide caused by a sudden storm, which makes Carlo’s house slide down a cliff.

By the end, all are not only saved, but pair off with the romantic partners they deserve.

The film was based on Ira Wallach’s novel Muscle Beach which was published in 1959.

The production atmosphere was tense, only made worse when an uncredited stuntman drowned when he parachuted into the Pacific Ocean.

The film was Sharon Tate’s third, but as it was the first to be released in cinemas, it is generally considered to be her debut.

MGM mounted an extensive publicity campaign upon its release that was based largely on Tate and her character Malibu. Life-sized cardboard cutouts of Tate wearing bikini were placed in cinema foyers.

It was also linked to a widespread advertising campaign by Coppertone which also featured Tate.

Dave Draper, who plays Malibu’s boyfriend Harry, was the 1965 IFBB Mr. America and the 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe.

1966 NABBA Mr. Universe bodybuilder Chester Yorton, who plays Ted Gunder, made one other film, 1964’s Muscle Beach Party, as the character called “Hulk.”

The score was composed by Vic Mizzy. Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman wrote the catchy title song, “Don’t Make Waves,” performed by The Byrds over the opening credits.

Upon its release on June 20, 1967, Don’t Make Waves received  mixed reviews. By the time the film was released, the popularity of beach films and films that related to California beach culture had begun to wane as had the popularity of Tony Curtis as a matinee idol.

In American Prince, his 2009 memoir, Tony Curtis wrote of making Don’t Make Waves, “The plot was utterly ridiculous, but I agreed to appear in the film because I got a percentage of the gross.”

Unfortunately, the film earned only $1.25 million at the box office.

Cast

Tony Curtis Carlo Cofield
Claudia Cardinale Laura Califatti
Sharon Tate Malibu
David Draper Harry Hollard
Joanna Barnes Diane Prescott
Robert Webber Rod Prescott
Reg Lewis Monster
Mort Sahl Sam Lingonberry
Edgar Bergen Madame Lavinia
Dub Taylor Electrician
Mary Grace Canfield Seamstress
Holly Haze Myrna
Sarah Selby Ethyl
Julie Payne Helen
Douglas Henderson Henderson
Chester Yorton Ted Gunder
Ann Elder Millie Gunder
Marc London Fred Barker
Paul Barselou Pilot as Paul Barselow
George Tyne Newspaperman
David Fresco Newspaperman
Gilbert Green Newspaperman as Gil Green
Eduardo Tirello Decorator
Jim Backus Himself uncredited
Henny Backus Herself uncredited
China Lee Topless swimmer uncredited
Joanne Hashimoto Female Gymnast uncredited
Bill Kennedy Reporter uncredited; final film

Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this comedy on June 26, 2022.