Slippery When Wet (1958) Poster

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8/10
Bruce Brown's First Film
john4films4 August 2002
Bruce Brown's first film, about surfing, of course. This film was 8 years before Endless Summer was a huge hit. This documentary follows five surfers who trek to Oahu, Hawaii, and live on the cheap. It has a jazz score, rather than surf guitar, like Endless Summer has. It has not bad cinematography for an amateur, at that time, Bruce Brown and a 16mm camera. Although there is not a lot of attention to the lighting of faces, as in dramas (for example, no fill light), that doesn't detract at all from the film, because it is about surfing, not faces or acting or drama, and it is a documentary. It is a fun exploration of the surfing culture of those times, which was a lot more friendly than the surf nazis and vehicle vandalism and localism and territorialism of recent times.

I was actually living on Oahu, Hawaii the entire summer of 1967, at the age of 18 and 19 when Endless Summer finally got national release. I saw it for the first time in Honolulu with a beautiful, blonde from Connecticut, or was it Massachusetts, who was fascinated by surfing and surfers. Lucky me. And I mean gorgeous! She had a previous boyfriend who had died surfing the Pipeline. I worked at the Dole Pineapple cannery on the graveyard shift from 11pm to 7am. I was home, showered and in bed by 7:30am. I got up about noon, had a quick lunch, and immediately went surfing, usually at Waikiki, because the North Shore is dead in the summer. I would surf until sunset. Then I'd eat dinner, and if I was really tired take a nap, otherwise we'd party until we went to work driving forklifts in the empty can storage department at the Dole cannery. I did this Monday through Friday. There were 4 of us from Arizona. Yeah! Arizona surfers! Then Saturdays, we'd go body surfing and skin diving at Sandy beach. On Sundays, we'd tourist the island and go scuba diving. We had our tanks with us over there, as well as longboards.

So this film and Endless Summer and other Bruce Brown films are beautiful memories to me. And they really do mirror the laid-back, fun, polite, kind and helpful (and partying) personality of the surf culture and surfers of that time. Today, some of this atmosphere still exists, but there are some really jerk, punk, rude *@#^&%*? surfers out there now, unfortunately.

So, here's to the early, pure, fun, friendly surf culture, before everyone thought they were a surfer, and surfing became primarily about marketing "surf" clothes, and the waves became so crowded with rude jerks, that it is worse than LA rush hour on the freeways.

Oh, God, that was a beautiful summer!!!
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Nostalgic Fun
ivan-225 August 2002
The good old days! Who doesn't believe in them? This exceedingly pleasant, happy documentary is a joy to watch. There is nothing really spectacular about it, it's the whole fun attitude presented in a visually and aurally pleasing manner. The voice of the narrator, his use of gentle humor, the wonderful jazz score (some may call it elevator music - though I have a very high opinion of elevator music!) all combine for a really satisfactory experience. I am not a surfing fan. Indeed, the sport looks rather hazardous. But it's nice to see surfing in the good old days, before it became a cliche, before the Beach Boys (whom I do like a lot), when things seemed less competitive or attitudinal. I have also enjoyed "Endless Summer", but this one is even better, because it's the first of the series and therefore of greater historic value.
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9/10
The Earl Miller of surf films begins his career.
geoff-884 August 2002
Bruce Brown, he of "The Endless Summer" fame, began his film career with this little gem. I've seen "The Endless Summer," and "On Any Sunday" many a time each, but only just saw this movie tonight.

It has an excellent jazz soundtrack by Bud Shank. "Jazz? For a surf film?" Well, yes. Keep in mind, this is 1958, and as Bruce himself acknowledged to TCM (Turner Classic Movies) host Robert Osborne, "The Beach Boys were still a couple of years away, and to surfers of the 1950's, jazz _was_ surf music."

A great historic look back at one of the great past-times of the last 50 years, this movie takes place primarily in Hawaii, and follows 5 Southern California surfers as they trek to Hawaii, looking for the classic Hawaiian surf.

A great reminisce of the 1950's, and with the entertaining, sometime goofy, narrative by Bruce Brown, this is a movie just about anyone will enjoy.

I give it a 9 out of a 10, if only because at times it appears a bit less polished than "The Endless Summer," but then again, not bad for a man never trained in movie making. Seek this one out!
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7/10
A bit rough around the edges, bur overall still enjoyable
Woodyanders25 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Five surfers embark on a dream trip to Hawaii, where they ride all kinds of waves and live on the North Shore of Oahu on only a hundred dollars a day. Bruce Brown's first surf documentary not only vividly captures the utterly engaging easy'n'breezy carefree nature of surfing in the pre-competitive innocent days of the 1950's, but also boasts plenty of gorgeous Hawaiian scenery and lots of nifty surfing footage. Moreover, this doc presents an evenly balanced depiction of surfing, with surfers either riding the waves to glory or wiping out something fierce. The succinct 72 minute running ensures that this likable affair never gets dull or overstays its welcome. Bud Shank's jaunty jazz score hits the right-on groovy spot. Brown's vibrant color cinematography looks quite sumptuous through. Although Brown's rather awkward narration does possess a certain endearingly cornball charm, his often forced attempts at humor nonetheless leave quite a bit to be desired. Lightweight fun.
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