Bruce’s Beauties

Timed to the advent of the 50th anniversary of the most popular surf movie ever made, a hidden archive of production stills and photos taken by the director has percolated up through the topsoil. Many have found their way onto Bruce Brown Films’ social feeds. Others have been high-graded into the recent nonesuch boxed-edition art volume, The Endless Summer. Page through and see if these don’t have you wanting to prick up your ear, listening for Wally Georis’ haunting melodica work with The Sandals as Mike and Robert cross datelines.

Light / Dark

Post developing tank, but pre final splice, Brown hunts through his stacks of acetate for a few feet from the proper reel.
Final gear check with TES dance partner, Bob Bagley.
Robert August’s light-footed beachbreak chops and smirking good nature made a production that was at times tense and grueling look decidedly otherwise.
Dated material: While lighthearted in their execution and spirit, some of the Africa segments from TES have been criticized for their overtones of neocolonialism and racism.
Here, Orange County subs in as Nigeria, with Brown’s wife, Patricia, prepping publicist R. Paul Allen in blackface for his scene playing a local warrior.
After being rejected by several movie distributors—and barnstorming the film himself for nearly two years—Brown and The Endless Summer eventually premiered in Hollywood at the Exeter Street Theater.
Brown and August, mid-production circa 1963, discuss their in-water shot list. “Trout for breakfast, trout for lunch, trout for dinner…” Hynson in New Zealand.
Over the course of his surf-film career, Brown recorded some of surfing’s most indelible moments—like Greg Noll falling from the sky on an absolute bomb.
Maili Beach, Oahu, circa 1962. Unknown trimmer.
Hynson, checking baggage at LAX on the outbound leg, 1963.
Cornerstone session: Robert August, Cape St. Francis.
Alternate images from this photo shoot, conducted by Bob Bagley, would become the source material for John Van Hamersveld’s iconic movie poster.
The director, among fans.

[Feature image: The auteur, strapped with Wayfarer crosshairs and a custom look-and-shoot water rig. Brown designed several hands-free action cameras throughout the 60s. With this setup, he found it difficult to consistently align the right subject—thus the sunglass-targeting system, which was specifically ranged to the lens above.]