Movie Maniac

June 9, 2013

A winter premiere of ‘Endless Summer’ transformed Wichita into Surf City

Surfing has a different meaning than it did in the 1960s. When someone says “surfing” today, we immediately think of the Internet.

Surfing has a different meaning than it did in the 1960s. When someone says “surfing” today, we immediately think of the Internet.

But in the ’60s, surfing was riding a giant, glassy wave of water over a glimmering ocean. And it was all the rage, driven by Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach-party movies.

Surfing wasn’t exactly synonymous with Wichita, which is smack dab in the middle of the country and about as far away from an ocean as you could get. Yet that is precisely why filmmaker Bruce Brown chose Wichita to premiere his surfing documentary “The Endless Summer.” He figured if the film was a hit here, it would be a hit anywhere.

And that’s precisely what happened. The film, which follows world-class surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they travel around the globe seeking the perfect wave, opened in Wichita at the now-defunct Sunset Theatre in February 1966 to sold-out crowds. Its one-week-only run was extended to two weeks. It then played in New York for a whole year.

Thanks to those two successful runs, Brown was able to snag a national theatrical distributor.

The film made waves, pun intended, becoming one of the most celebrated surfing movies ever. And now it’s coming back to where it all started.

The Wichita Art Museum and Tallgrass Film Association are partnering to present a special screening of the film with an event on Friday titled “Tunes + Tallgrass on the Terrace,” which inaugurates the museum’s new outside terrace.

It starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the museum with a performance from the Kansas City group Sundog Surf Band. Several of Wichita’s popular food trucks will be open for business near the terrace during this time. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

At dusk, around 9 p.m., will be the screening of “Endless Summer.” You are welcome to bring chairs and blankets.

Admission is free. The film is rated PG. For more information, go to

Mixing it up “Hey Bartender” is a documentary that played at the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in Austin in March. The film will have special screenings in Wichita at the Murdock Theatre, 536 N. Broadway, at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Friday and June 17. Tickets are $15.

The film follows two aspiring bartenders: one an injured Marine in New York City and the other a young man who leaves his white-collar job to buy the corner bar in his hometown. The film touts itself as “the story of the rebirth of the bartender and the comeback of the cocktail.”

For more information and to view a trailer, go to

Supes suits up — Just five more days until the opening of “Man of Steel” on Friday, and I’m almost giddy with anticipation. There are sure to be some notable changes to the Superman lore we’ve known until now.

One change is already obvious: Superman’s uniform doesn’t have the red undies. Maybe he’s wearing them underneath?

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