Yes, Woodstock, but last week also saw the 40th anniversary of LA’s darkest campfire tale. You probably know the story by now (and if you don’t, you can read about it here, or here), but the shorthand goes like this…
On the night of August 8, 1969, Charles Manson disciples Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian stormed the rented home of Roman Polanski on 10050 Cielo Drive. Once behind its gates, they brutally and systematically took the lives of 5 people—including the life of Polanski’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant girlfriend, actress Sharon Tate. Tate was the last to die, knived by Watson while she was pinned down by Atkins, who then took some of Tate’s blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on the porch wall. Manson had ordered her to leave behind a sign, “something witchy.”
The tragic events of that night, spilled into the following night and continued to ripple out through the decade(s) to come. Even today, the events of August ‘69 provided Pynchon with the darkly seismic backdrop to his new novel, Inherent Vice. The fallout was felt everywhere—even I had nightmares. Not about the events themselves (I was too young to remember those), but about Manson someday going free, and moving down the block.
After losing his wife and unborn child, Polanski was understandably devastated, and his life, eight years later, would go on to take another troubled turn. And Sharon Tate’s legacy? Beyond a still-loyal fanbase, all she left behind is a smattering of films and the promise of what might have been. And that promise, in my eyes, is at its most tangible in Tate’s American debut, Don’t Make Waves.
What’s it all about? Not much beyond The Byrds’ winning title track and Tony Curtis’ “Carlo Cofield” moving to Malibu and mixing it up with the town’s free-lovin’ oddballs. It was directed by Brit Alexander Mackendrick, a decade past his Sweet Smell of Success, and features one of my all-time favorite character actors, the criminally underappreciated Robert Webber. Curtis and Webber aside, though, it’s Tate who steals the show as the always-bikinied skydiver, “Malibu.” In fact, Tate made such a strong impression, she served as the inspiration for Mattel’s “Malibu Barbie.”
A physical copy of Waves is hard to come by. But you can still catch it for yourself, in its 10-part entirety, on YouTube. Part 1 starts right here. The trailer follows below.