Although Tony Curtis’
character loses everything he owns — twice! — in this light comedy from
1967, he’s so distracted by the hubbub of swingin’ SoCal activity around
him, he doesn’t seem too terribly put out. And neither will you.
“Don’t Make Waves” is exactly the kind of film that made-on-demand outfits like Warner Archive are perfect for: a movie that may not be well remembered, if at all, but is worthy of rediscovery. It’s like a time capsule to an era that no longer exists, but director Alexander Mackendrick (“The Ladykillers”) captures its vibe so wonderfully, so effortlessly, that you can’t help but live vicariously through it.
As Carlo, Curtis pulls into town with all his belongings in a Volkswagen bug, and barely escapes with his life after it all goes literally over a cliff and up in flames. With nothing but the shirt on his back — or what’s left of it — he’s temporarily taken in by the va-va-voom Italian woman to blame, Laura (Claudia Cardinale), the hush-hush mistress of a very married pool company CEO (Robert Webber).
She’s stunningly beautiful, but so is Malibu (Sharon Tate), the sun-bronzed skydiver who hangs out on the beach with her bodybuilder beau (David Draper, then Mr. Universe). Carlo practically slobbers over the sight of her trampolining in the sand — and Mackendrick’s camera ogles her in near-gynecological angles — although you know from the start exactly who he’ll end up with by “THE END,” following a finale befitting of an Irwin Allen disaster film.
Admittedly thin on story, “Waves” is buoyant where it counts, resulting in a charming affair as frothy as the shoreline. Curtis plays it goofy and nimble, with Cardinale and Tate (a scant two years away from being murdered by the Manson family) providing a one-two punch of sex appeal rarely matched in the movies. The Byrds even chime in with a catchy theme song over animated credits. What’s not to love? —Rod Lott