Surfing in the Movies

A Critical History

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About the Book

Surfing has fascinated filmmakers since Thomas Edison shot footage of Waikiki beachboys in 1906. Before the 1950s surf craze, surfing showed up in travelogues or as exotic background for studio features.
The arrival of Gidget (1959) on the big screen swept the sport into popular culture, but surfer-filmmakers were already featuring the day’s best surfers in self-narrated two-reelers. Hollywood and independent filmmakers have produced about three dozen surf films in the last half-century, including the frothy Beach Party movies, Point Break (1991) and Chasing Mavericks (2012). From Bud Browne’s earliest efforts to The Endless Summer (1966), Riding Giants (2004) and today’s brilliant videos, over 1,000 surfing movies have celebrated the stoke. This first full-length study of surf movies gives critical attention to hundreds of the most important films.

About the Author(s)

John Engle is a professor of literature and film at the Université de Toulon. He has written extensively on modern literature, education, popular culture, and cinema. He lives in Southern France.

Bibliographic Details

John Engle
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9521-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2284-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

1. Shooting the Curl 5

2. Five Hundred Summer Stories: The Surf Movie and Documentary 24

3. In Hollywood’s Hands: The Feature Film Surfing Narrative 144

Conclusion: Zero Summer 207

Chapter Notes 223

Bibliography 226

Index 239

Book Reviews & Awards

“A fundamental surf book. It should be read by surfers, surf historians, surf journalists, and sociologists interested in surfings own ‘subculture’…you will feel an uncontrollable desire to watch the world’s best surf movies”—Surfer Today; “a great new book”—The Inertia; “offers an analytic approach to hundreds of entertainment and documentary films featuring surfing”—Communications Booknotes Quarterly.