Surfing has fascinated filmmakers since Thomas Edison shot footage of Waikiki beachboys in 1906. Before the 1950s surf craze, surfing showed up in travelogues or as exotic background for studio features. The arrival of Gidget (1959) on the big screen swept the sport into popular culture, but surfer-filmmakers were already featuring the day's best surfers in self-narrated two-reelers. Hollywood and independent filmmakers have produced about three dozen surf films in the last half-century, including the frothy Beach Party movies, Point Break (1991) and Chasing Mavericks (2012). From Bud Browne's earliest efforts to The Endless Summer (1966), Riding Giants (2004) and today's brilliant videos, over 1,000 surfing movies have celebrated the stoke. This first full-length study of surf movies gives critical attention to hundreds of the most important films.
John Engle is a professor of literature and film at the Universite de Toulon, France. He has written extensively on modern literature, education, popular culture, and cinema. He lives in Southern France.