'The Endless Summer' Was The First Real Surfing Movie

By Jacob Shelton
Left: A still shot from the production of The Endless Summer. Right: The treatment of the picture that was made famous on the poster. Source: IMDB

Before The Endless Summer, Bruce Brown's 1966 documentary, surfing films weren’t really films about surfing. They were beach party films that were less about catching waves and more about presenting a sanitized version of life in Southern California. Movies like Beach Blanket Bingo and Gidget could be fun to watch, thanks to so many frolicking scantily-clad young people. But they misrepresented surfing culture, ignoring the spiritual nature of grabbing a board and hitting the waves. Out of nowhere came Bruce Brown, a filmmaker who spent $50,000 on a riveting documentary that followed two surfers across the world as they tried to live the endless summer.

With only two surfers in tow, Mike Hynson and Robert August, Brown traveled to Australia, Ghana, Hawaii, New Zealand, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Southern California, and Tahiti. Brown documented everything on one camera and a couple of lenses. He just wanted to show the world a mythological representation of what he and his friends lived every day.