Gidget Goes Hawaiian

Director: Paul Wendkos

Country: USA

Year: 1961

Duration: 101 min

Languages: English, subtitled in Finnish

Category: , , , ,

Up till the late 1950s, surfing was a sport done by self-styled outsiders who developed their very own culture, whose rules and rituals essentially still apply today. But then came k.u.k.-Austrian-born (screen)writer Friedrich Kohner’s 1957 novel Gidget, The Little Girl with Big Ideas, which turned riding the waves into a widely known sport.

Next step into the development was Paul Wendkos’ adaptation of the novel for the big screen two years on, which became a major box office hit – even if the critics who so far had hailed Wendkos’ auteurist genius suddenly turned sour on him for making a girls’ movie. Which, by the way, is the most remarkable aspect of the Gidget story: that surfing became a general cultural phenomenon by way of a female character – as surf culture at that point in time, for better or worse, was muy macho.

From here on, two different Gidget lines develop, as Kohner’s follow-up novels and Wendkos’ sequels had little to do with each other. The Gidget films became world cinema’s first surf movie (mini) franchise, with its second and finest entry, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, introducing the US’s (only recently admitted therefore still somewhat exotic) sole tropical state as the hotbed of this pastime.

Olaf Möller