Evening all! As you probably noticed, this blog is named after one of my all time favorite films Gidget, and her love for her one and only, Moondoggie. The delightfully corny and sweet film stars Sandra Dee, James Darren, and Cliff Robertson, and is loosely based on the best-selling book of the same title. Released in 1959, the film tells the story of a spunky SoCal teen who’s more tomboy than beauty, (except she’s Sandra Dee and of course she’s darling, just a late bloomer which is actually code for flat-chested!) and during the summer of her 16th year, she falls in the love with two things – Surfing and Moondoggie. She learns to surf thanks to her penchant for books and her own determination, but has to hatch a cunning plan to get Moondoggie to even notice her and the rest is just teen-beach-movie fun.
The film is endearing in the way it relies on euphemisms and naïvety to deal with Gidget’s burgeoning sexual interest. Though the bizarrely emphasized gender roles are a striking reminder of just how far women’s equality has come in this country (slowly but surely.) And it has an obvious undercurrent of cultural conformity played out through Moondoggie and the Kahuna’s ultimate decisions to sell out and keep working for the man (when they were so committed to living the surf-bum dream!) They also pin the “selling-out” (portrayed as a good thing) on Gidget’s influence… It takes a woman to keep men on the straight and narrow you know! (If you can’t sense my sarcasm, please do!) I personally find it all intriguing. It’s at once entertaining and somewhat anthropologic, like a time-capsule wrapped up in celluloid.
I guess that’s why I like classic films (or even old films that maybe only a few people would consider “classic.”) They can provide an enlightening view of our past cultural norms – good, bad, and sometimes enduring, while also being fun, moving or thrilling works of cinema. Gidget, and all the sequels, tv shows, and specials to follow, is just that for me. I adore it.
I adore the totally fake surfing scenes, where the actors are clearly pretending to surf in front of a film back drop. I adore that Gidget is the kind of girl who insists on being able to surf like the boys. I adore the clothes and the 50’s slang. I adore seeing Malibu in the 1950’s. I adore James Darren’s tendency to break out into song, even though I wouldn’t classify this as a musical. I adore the theme song. And I adore the story… I was just as silly a teen in the 90’s as Gidget is in the 50’s.
So there you have it. My Gidget complex.