20th Century-Fox's Cinema Archives vault of hard-to-find cult and library titles has released Wild on the Beach, the 1965 Beach Party musical knock-off directed by Maury Dexter (his second, after The Young Swingers), and starring Frankie Randall, Sherry Jackson, Jackie & Gayle, Sonny & Cher (their first movie appearance), The Astronauts, Cindy Malone, and Sandy Nelson. Just like The Young Swingers, I doubt the low, low budget Wild on the Beach was shot in any kind of widescreen process, but by '65, pretty much anything showing up in theaters (not already shot in a widescreen process) was expected to be soft-matted off during projection to a minimum of 1.66:1, so, this fullscreen transfer is problematic, to say the least.
Now, I've reviewed other Cinema Archive fullscreen titles that used old altered-for-television prints--I seriously doubt they're the original open mattes...as Fox acknowledges right up front with their disclaimer--that looked okay cropped on my wide monitor (Dexter's Raiders from Beneath the Sea), and others that didn't cut it (Dexter's Surf Party). Unfortunately, Wild on the Beach falls in the latter category, with the resulting image looking too tight when cropped on a monitor: tops of heads crowded or cut off at the top of the frame, and information lost at the bottom--not to mention an unnecessarily grainy, blown-out image). Fox has been all over the map with these Cinema Archives releases in terms of correct screen ratios, with information on the web sketchy about which titles are botched. So, in an effort to help other fans like myself who want these movies presented correctly, and who don't want to waste their money on compromised product...skip this release of Wild on the Beach.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published movie and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.