The original Muscle Beach, located south of the Santa Monica Pier, was constructed in 1934 by the Works Progress Administration with the intention of creating a park on a public beach. By the 1940s however, Muscle Beach frequently appeared as a standing joke in trade magazines and was often mentioned with innuendo in Hollywood gossip columns. For filmmaker Joseph Strick, however, the beach scene offered an opportunity to observe and document an emerging subculture of gymnasts, athletes, bodybuilders and exhibitionists. His 1948 short Muscle Beach, made with assistance from fellow filmmaker Irving Lerner, can be considered a carefree and wholesome portrait of a site that was then of questionable reputation. The film would be the first of Strick's early efforts to highlight documentary footage of Los Angeles counterculture.
Ulf Kjell Gür
Did You Know?
"Muscle Beach" was restored by the Academy Film Archive in 2009. See more