Movie tickets are not something to which we give a lot of thought from an aesthetic point of view, and really why should we? They exist to be torn in half within minutes of purchase. The generic, bluish, thermally printed and perfectly utilitarian stubs we’re used to today were preceded in my youth by the classic red “ADMIT ONE” tabs that did the job just fine in the days when most cinemas had only one or two screens.
So it was a truly pleasant surprise to find The Gallery of Surf Classics’ trove of 1960s surf movie ticket stubs. Many are very plain, but some of the graphic tickets are marvelous. Now, apart from breakouts like Bruce Brown’s classic The Endless Summer, surf movies weren’t nearly as mainstream as the Frankie & Annette beach party movies that simplified the culture for America’s landlocked. (As a Cleveland kid and a great indoorsman who doesn’t tend to much get hung up on the whole So-Cal vibe, movies formed the basis of my knowledge of surf culture, to which I’m a consummate outsider.) These were essentially niche sports documentaries that screened in high school auditoria and civic rec centers, so I find it pretty amazing that anyone would have taken the time and expense to craft such elaborate tickets for these films.
The Endless Summer, 1964
Walt Phillips’ Once Upon a Wave, 1963
Grant Rohloff’s Too Hot To Handle, 1963
Peter Clifton/DES Films’ A Fluid Journey, 1969
MacGillivray Freeman Films moved on from surfer flicks in the ‘60s and ‘70s to retool as an IMax production company, whose body of work includes the massive success Everest, but their Five Summer Stories is a surf genre classic.
Five Summer Stories, 1972
Free and Easy, 1967
The Sunshine Sea, 1970
A Cool Wave of Color, 1964
The following stubs are quite special—they’re designed by director/artist/surfer John Severson. Severson began filming surf documentaries in 1957, founded Surfer magazine in 1959, and remains to this day a gifted graphic artist celebrating surf. His block prints are especially awesome, but all his artwork is worth a peek.
Surf Fever, 1960
Big Wednesday, 1961, related only by title to the 1978 Jan-Michael Vincent/Gary Busey surf film.
Going My Wave, 1962
The Angry Sea, 1963
I could hardly show you surf movie ticket art without showing you a surf movie, right? Here’s a fantastic looking and sounding upload of the Citizen Kane of surf movies, The Endless Summer. The premise is tantalizingly wishful—if one had the time and resources, one could continually travel the globe so as to always be in a part of the world where it’s summertime, and thus live a life of neverending surfing. It’s all at once a helpful primer about surf culture basics (as of 1964), a fantastic travelogue, and a collection of beautiful footage.