“SHAG”— A Summer Party


A Summer  Party

Amos Lassen

During the summer of 1963, Carson (Phoebe Cates) is getting married to her boyfriend so her friends Melaina (Bridget Fonda), Pudge (Annabeth Gish) and Luanne (Page Hannah) take her to Myrtle Beach for one last irresponsible weekend in Zelda Barron’s “Shag”.


Set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we follow the adventures of four young women from Spartanburg who have been close friends through high school but who will be separated come fall by their different plans. Having told their parents they are on a tour of Confederate monuments, they secretly light out for the seaside resort of Myrtle Beach, where Luanne’s family has a summerhouse. By the end of their fling, half of Myrtle Beach has drunkenly trooped through the place, and almost everyone has been promisingly paired off.

The four teen-ager girls whose longing for adventure momentarily overcomes the caution instilled by sheltered upbringings. Luanne is a young woman who very reluctantly drops her defenses against the advances of Buzz (Robert Rusler), a charming lover boy. Melaina is intent on becoming a film star schemes to meet Jimmy Valentine (Jeff Yagher), a dumb teen-age singing idol who just happens to be one of the Sun Queen contest in which she delivers a speech from ”Gone With the Wind.” Pudge is shy and is with an equally shy future naval cadet named Chip (Scott Coffey), enters a dance contest. “Shag” is a nostalgic comedy of manners that makes fun of its teen-age innocent characters who are yearning for sophistication. Trouble starts at a party and continues through the rest of the film.

It is not surprising that over the weekend, one of the girls will fall in love, one will decide to go for her dream, one will decide not to marry the loser and the other finds out that she isn’t plain after all.

The actors in “Shag” are some of the best of the younger generation in Hollywood when the movie was made, and they treat their material with the humor and delicacy it deserves. Because we know what is going to happen in the time that the movie takes place is what I think makes it such an endearing film. In 1963, our president was assassinated, there was a war in Vietnam and the 60s were a time when we lost our innocence. Even so, life seemed very innocent back then. At one part in the girls innocently talk about erections and it comes across sweet. The characters aren’t deep here and those of us who lived through the 60s knew girls like those in the movies.

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