My First Surf Film
by Corky Carroll
Today I am going to continue with a second installment of my most memorable surf days series. These will probably be spread out at different times with other more time sensitive stuff thrown in as it falls. The following in a excerpt from my book, “NOT DONE YET.”
Something that had a profound effect on me was seeing my first surfing movie. There were a couple of brothers who lived down the street from us named Mike and Marc De Cheveroux. They were fellow air matt warriors with me and also were getting into surfing at the same time as I was. Their mom, Ruth, was a huge fan of the bullfights and would head down to Mexico all the time for that. She would also occasionally pile us all in the back of her station wagon and take us surfing down the coast to Doheny and San Onofre, excellent surf spots in the southern end of Orange County. One night she found out about a “surfing film” being shown at a little artsy kinda theater up in Hollywood and loaded us all up to go see it. The name of the movie was “Surf Safari.” It was filmed and narrated by a dude named John Severson, who would later go on to publish SURFER magazine. I will never forget the adrenaline rush I felt when the big wave sequence came on the screen. The music got cranked up. It was the Theme from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini. And the narration went, “On December 15th the biggest swell to hit the Hawaiian Islands in over 50 years came marching out of the North Pacific. And only a handful were there to meet the challenge.” My jaw dropped and I was totally swept away with the enormity of this. I was “STOKED” to the max. I had a full-blown case of surf fever (a later John Severson movie title).
That did it. From then on I went to see every surf film there was and collected every surf photo, surf poster, surf anything I could get my little hands on. All the walls in my room and the ceiling would eventually be filled with surf stuff. Surfing consumed my life. Yeah, I still played little league baseball and all that kinda stuff, but it was surfing that became my passion. Everything else took back seat to that.
In 1959 the movie “Gidget” hit theaters all around the country. It was based on a real chick who had hung out at Malibu during the summers and had become part of the surf pack there. Her father had written a book about her and the surf crew and it became a Hollywood movie. Like everything else that had anything to do with surfing I couldn’t wait to go see it. A lot of the local surfers thought it was not very realistic, but I loved it. Some of the big name surf stars did the surfing in it, like Mickey Dora. A dude named Mickey Munoz, who is a little guy himself, did some of the surfing for Sandra Dee (Gidget) wearing a girls two-piece bathing suit and a blonde wig. The rest was done by Linda Benson, the top female surfer in the world in those days. That movie had a HUGE impact on surfing. Before that the entire surfing population in the United States consisted of a few pockets of what were considered “beat-niks,” “bohemians” and “lunatics” along the west coast and in Hawaii. After the Gidget movie all surf-hell broke loose. Everybody wanted to be a surfer. America had this romantic notion that surfers were all free-spirited party loving nomads that didn’t work and spent all their time surfing and making out with hot chicks at beach parties and in the backs of their “woodys.” This was an image that I could definitely sink my teeth into and grasp it as a workable vision to ascend to. I was as stoked as a kid could be.