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Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys (1990)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Music  |  29 April 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 273 users  
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Dramatization looks at the tumultuous relationship that existed between rock group The Beach Boy's Brian and Dennis Wilson and their father, Murry. It also examines their struggles with drugs and alcohol.



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Title: Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys (TV Movie 1990)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Greg Kean ...
Karen Lamm (as Linda Doná)
Carole Wilson
Marilyn Wilson (as Wendy Kaplan)
Dorothy Dells ...
Andrew Myler ...
Bill (as J. Bill Jones)
Billy Vera ...
Bruce Johnston (as Robert E. Lee)
Maya Lebenzon ...
Kelly Bratten ...


This biopic chronicles the continuing saga of the Beach Boys from 1961 to 1985. Mainly focuses on the Beach Boys resident wildman Dennis Wilson and in a slightly less capacity big brother Brian Wilson. Written by Paul Cartwright <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 April 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heroes and Villains  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A scene of topless women (not seen in the original TV broadcast) was added for the VHS video release. See more »


The film implies that under Murry Wilson's direction, the Beach Boys recorded "Barbara Ann" in a standard session in 1963 or 1964. In reality, the song was recorded "unplugged" in September 1965 after Dean Torrence (of Jan and Dean fame) visited the session for the Beach Boys' Party! album and suggested that they record it. By that time, Murry Wilson had long since been fired as the Beach Boys' manager. See more »


Edited into Cease to Exist (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Credible version of the band's story.
1 December 1999 | by (Marietta, GA, USA) – See all my reviews

Considering the natural constraints that are built into a TV-movie, this one does a pretty good job of telling the Beach Boys' story. One might almost call it admirable. The script is based on Steven Gaines book about the group, 'Heroes and Villains,' and for the most part it deals honestly and straightforwardly with the band's roller-coaster ride over a couple of decades, a ride which unfortunately had more than its share of steep declines. Main themes include the struggle for creative control of the band between head of the Wilson clan Murray and eldest son Brian, the struggle for Brian Wilson's sanity as he tries to handle the responsibility of being the band's leader, and Dennis Wilson's problems with drugs and relationships that prove self-destructive.

It was easier to depict Dennis' earthy lifestyle than to delve into Brian's complex psyche, I suppose, so this turns into more of the Dennis and Brian show than one might imagine. The other group members Mike Love, Carl Wilson and Alan Jardine accordingly clear the stage for the most part. The music proves a bit problematic, too. Apparently unable to use original Beach Boys material, the imitations are not so terrible, but any true fan of the group will immediately note the difference. Love's voice proves a lot easier to recreate than does Brian's falsetto. One good scene has the boys performing their first song, 'Surfin',' for Mr. Wilson. The best musical sequence is designed to show Brian's blossoming genius at composing and arranging, and this occurs when the band is seen recording 'God Only Knows.' They even correctly showed Carl doing the vocal! But it seems the movie's producers didn't have the nerve to try and take on the Beach Boys' biggest hit and Brian's most glorious creation, 'Good Vibrations.' It's nowhere to be heard in this film.

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