Don't Make Waves

Don't Make Waves

original movie poster
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
Produced by John Calley
Martin Ransohoff
Ira Wallach
Written by George Kirgo
Maurice Richlin
Based on Muscle Beach
by Ira Wallach
Starring Tony Curtis
Claudia Cardinale
Sharon Tate
Robert Webber
Dave Draper
Music by Vic Mizzy
Cinematography Philip H. Lathrop
Edited by Rita Roland
Thomas Stanford
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1967, original) Warner Bros. (2011, DVD)
Release dates
Running time
97 min.
Box office $1,250,000 (US/ Canada)[1][2]

Don't Make Waves is a 1967 American sex farce (with elements of the beach party genre) starring Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Dave Draper and Sharon Tate. Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and is based on the 1959 novel Muscle Beach, by Ira Wallach, who also wrote the screenplay.

The film depicts a series of romantic triangles between different groupings of the principal cast and supporting players among several backdrops involving Southern California culture (swimming pools, bodybuilding, beach life, fantastic real estate, mudslides, metaphysical gurus, etc.).


Carlo Cofield, a tourist visiting California's west coast, has not even arranged lodging when his car is smashed by a reckless driver. She is carefree, attractive Laura Califatti, who offers him to sleep that night on her couch.

This displeases Rod Prescott, a wealthy swimming-pool builder, because Laura is his mistress. After being kicked out, Carlo tries to sleep on the beach and nearly drowns. He is rescued by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a gorgeous surfer who goes by the name "Malibu."

Carlo begins a romantic pursuit of the much-younger woman. After renting a house near the ocean, Carlo cons a sweet but naive bodybuilder, Harry, who is Malibu's boyfriend, that having sex is harmful to his body. He also bribes a phony psychic, "Madame Lavinia," who is actually a man, to discourage Harry from seeing Malibu anymore.

Rod decides to give the persistent Carlo a job as a pool salesman. The affair with Laura is discovered by Rod's wife, Diane, who demands a divorce. As a quarrel develops with everyone present, a mudslide caused by a sudden storm makes Carlo's house slide down a cliff. By the time everyone is saved, they pair off with the romantic partners they deserve.


Actors Characters info
Tony Curtis Carlo Cofield
Claudia Cardinale Laura Califatti
Sharon Tate Malibu
David Draper Harry Hollard
Joanna Barnes Diane Prescott
Robert Webber Rod Prescott
Reg Lewis Monster
Mort Sahl Sam Lingonberry
Edgar Bergen Madame Lavinia
Dub Taylor Electrician
Mary Grace Canfield Seamstress
Holly Haze Myrna
Sarah Selby Ethyl
Julie Payne Helen
Douglas Henderson Henderson
Chester Yorton Ted Gunder
Ann Elder Millie Gunder
Marc London Fred Barker
Paul Barselou Pilot as Paul Barselow
George Tyne Newspaperman
David Fresco Newspaperman
Gilbert Green Newspaperman as Gil Green
Eduardo Tirello Decorator
Jim Backus Himself uncredited
Henny Backus Herself uncredited
China Lee Topless swimmer uncredited
Joanne Hashimoto Female Gymnast uncredited

Production notes

Sharon Tate told her husband Roman Polanski that her experience working on this film was not particularly enjoyable. The production atmosphere was tense, and it was worsened when an uncredited stuntman drowned when he parachuted into the Pacific Ocean.[3]

The film was Tate's third to be produced, but as it was the first to be released in cinemas, it is generally considered to be her debut. MGM mounted an extensive publicity campaign upon its release that was based largely on Tate and her character, Malibu, and life-sized cardboard cutouts of Tate wearing a bikini were placed in cinema foyers throughout the United States. It was also linked to a widespread advertising campaign by Coppertone which also featured Tate.

Dave Draper, who plays Malibu's boyfriend Harry, was the 1965 IFBB Mr. America and the 1966 IFBB Mr. Universe.

1966 NABBA Mr. Universe bodybuilder Chester Yorton, who plays Ted Gunder, made one other film, 1964's Muscle Beach Party, in which he plays the character called "Hulk." Ann Elder, who portrays Millie Gunder, is the daughter of actress Anne Shirley and actor John Payne.


The score was composed by Vic Mizzy. Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman wrote the title song, "Don't Make Waves," performed by The Byrds over the opening credits.


Upon its release on June 20, 1967, Don't Make Waves received generally mixed reviews. By the time the film was released, the popularity of beach films and films that related to California beach culture had begun to wane as had the popularity of Tony Curtis as a matinee idol.[2] In American Prince, his 2009 autobiography, Tony Curtis wrote of making Don't Make Waves, "The plot was utterly ridiculous, but I agreed to appear in the film because I got a percentage of the gross."[4] The film would go on to earn $1.25 million at the box office.[2]

Don't Make Waves has since received more positive comments from reviewers, such as Leonard Maltin who describes it as "a gem", and makes note of the "good direction, funny performance by Sharon Tate and a catchy title song...".[5]


Don't Make Waves was released to DVD by Warner Home Video's Warner Archive on June 27, 2011 as a burn-on-demand Region 1 widescreen DVD.

See also


  1. "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. 1 2 3 Lisanti, Thomas (2005). Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969. McFarland. p. 324. ISBN 1-476-60142-9.
  3. Polanski, Roman (1984). Roman. New York: William Morrow & Company. p. 261. ISBN 0-688-02621-4.
  4. Curtis, Tony; Golenbock, Peter (2008). American Prince: A Memoir. Random House LLC. p. 264. ISBN 0-307-44946-7.
  5. Maltin, Leonard (2013). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin. p. 367. ISBN 1-101-60955-9.
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