Top 5 Surfing Movies

Posted by Wade Sheeler June 13, 2014 0 Comment 6644 views

There may still be a chill in the air where you are, but here in Cali where I call home, you can see ’em wearing’ their baggies, Huarachi sandals too. From documentaries to sexy, sandy action flicks, there may be miles of surf movies, but these Top 5 Surfing Movies are the very best.


1. Endless Summer (1964)


The film that started it all. Bruce Brown and sons were always dedicated to surfing, producing the films Slippery When Wet in ’58 and Surf Crazy in ’59, but it was a travel agent that gave Brown the idea and title to Endless Summer. As they were charting out the course for production, the agent mused they could chase summer all over the word by planning it right. With that objective in mind, Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they globe trot, searching for the best waves. His easy going energy and cinema verite style inspired a generation of sports documentarians, from Warren Miller on down.


2. Big Wednesday (1978)

William Katt, Jan Michael Vincent & Gary Busey dream of "Big Wednesday"

It’s not a good film, but John Milius did find a way to capture the vibe and cult of surfing in Malibu. Three surfers see their lives change as the world does around them. It was a huge flop upon its release, but like all films that realistically capture the essence of a subculture, the audience will find it.


3. Point Break (1991)

"Peace through superior firepower."

Surfing, sky diving, bank robbing, and Johnny Utah – it doesn’t get better than Kathryn Bigelow’s over-the-top adrenaline rush of a B-movie. The whole affair is an overwrought melodrama that satirizes exploitation films while at the same time reveling in their glory. And as a shout-out to Big Wednesday, features a scenery chewing Gary Busey, right before he went full-tilt bananas. The dialogue is epic in its quotability, the kinetic action and surf sequences, top notch. Or as Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi would say “Surfing’s the source, man. Swear to God.”


4. Blue Crush (2002)

Michelle Rodriguez, Kate Bosworth, Sanoe Lake in "Blue Crush"

Whoever says surfing’s for dudes has never seen Blue Crush. Melding gorgeous photography, gorgeous bodies, a gnar gnar soundtrack and some astounding CG to put Kate Bosworth’s face on a real surfing stunt woman, this age old story of a fallen hero who just needs to get back on the board and win the Breaking Away/Rocky style big Banzai Pipeline competition, delivers. Can you believe it also changed surfing? Before Blue Crush, there was no place for women’s competition, and three years later, the Banzai Pipeline opened to women.


5. Riding Giants (2004)


A superb and beautiful documentary about big wave surfing, the film captures not only modern tow-in, but ably documents the history of surfing, going back to the Polynesian “boarding”of the 1700s. Directed by skateboarder Stacy Peralta and featuring the biggest names in surfing like Greg Noll, Laird Hamilton and Peter Mel, Riding Giants is the heir apparent to Endless Summer’s lasting legacy.

About Wade Sheeler

TV Producer & Director, Writer, Frustrated lover of film and obscure music. I still make mixed tapes if I like you enough.

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