The Living Curl
Classic Sixties Surf Film by Jamie Budge
Review by Balsa Bill [email_link]
The first time I ever met Jamie Budge was in 1965. I was working in Keller’s Surf Shop in Lavallette, N. J. It was just a couple of days before the Atlantic States Surfing Contest in Seaside Heights. Jamie wanted to enter the contest but I was given strict orders. The contest was full. The closing date had passed. No more entries.
Jamie pleaded. He had just come in from California. Couldn’t I make an exception? Well, I figured, what’s one more entry? I took his fee, and snuck his entry form into the stack back in the office. No one would know.
A couple of days later, Jamie won the contest. First place. Besides being an excellent surfer, we found out the following week, that he was a very talented filmmaker when he showed “The Living Curl” at the Seaside Heights American Legion Hall.
The Seaside Heights American Legion Hall was the most popular local venue for surf movies in the sixties. I was to find out why when I showed my film there a couple of years later. The hall rental fee was $25.
We all agreed that night, my friends and I, that “The Living Curl” may have been the best surf film that we’d seen up ’til then.
Of course we’d seen Bruce Brown’s soundtracked versions of Surfing Hollow Days, Barefoot Adventure and Waterlogged. We’d even seen “The Endless Summer” narrated in person by the man himself. It’s a classic of course with some great travel scenes. But for hard core surfing, we were more into Grant Rholoff , Dale Davis, Walt Phillips or Jim Freeman’s films.
Jamie, though had made a film that concentrated on the small glassy waves of California with the hottest of the hotdoggers. No Hawaii. No big waves. No survival stances. No travelogues. Just mostly small California point waves with the best performance surfing we’d seen up until then.
The film is heavy on Malibu, Jamie’s home break. What a great setting for a surf film in the early sixties. The perfect California point wave and the guys who invented hot dogging. All of the Malibu regulars are featured: Mickey (Miki) Chapin Dora (Mr Malibu, the Cat, Da Cat), Lance Carson, Johnny Fain, Dewey Weber, Bob “Porkchop” Baron, Dave Rochlen…in wave after wave of nose rides, cut backs, fives, tens and island pull outs.
The pan shot down the beach, at the opposite angle of what you normally see featuring the classic early sixties boards with laminated wood fin after laminated wood fin will make the collectors go absolutely crazy.
We get to meet young up and coming contest winners Corky Carroll, David Nuuiwa and Mark Martinson while they were still juniors and surfing the contest circuit: The Oceanside Invitational, The Laguna Masters (at Redondo Breakwater, named after the swimwear company not the beach town). We also get to see the legends of the day including Mike Hynson and Robert August battling it out at the Malibu Invitational.
A surfari up the coast features Secos (Arroyo Sequit) before it was Leo Carrillo State Park, California Street, Rincon, Santa Cruz, and for a break from all the perfect point breaks the Hollywood by the Sea sequence is a nice change of pace: bigger lefts in fast closing beach breaks.
The Stanley’s Diner sequence features filmaker Jamie himself surfing the glassiest waves ever. The spot no longer exists of course. Now it’s a freeway ramp. Too bad we didn’t have The Surfrider Foundation back in the Sixties.
For those of us that grew up surfing in the sixties, “The Living Curl” is like having Surfer Magazine circa 1961-1964 come alive.
I’ve been hoping for this to come out on DVD for quite a while now. Since getting my personal autographed copy a couple of days ago I’ve probably viewed the film 10 times since I’ve had it running constantly in my shop. I’m not tired of it yet. When you wait 43 years to see one of your favorite surf films the question is, will you be disappointed when it finally come out? I can say “The Living Curl” lived up to my memory and my expectations.
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