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Film: Catalina Caper

Catalina Caper (also known as Never Steal Anything Wet) is a campy 1967 musical comedy mystery film from Crown International Pictures starring Tommy Kirk. This is one of the last (if not the last) in the beach party film genre exemplified by Beach Blanket Bingo. This entry blends the beach format with a standard crime-caper comedy.

Tommy Kirk's other beach films include It's a Bikini World (1967), and two American International Pictures features, Pajama Party (1965) and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

This film was shot on location on and around Santa Catalina Island, California.

While about half the movie is just music numbers featuring teens dancing to music (at one point being serenaded by Little Richard), there is an actual plot that noses in from time to time. An ancient scroll is stolen from a museum in Los Angeles. The next day, teenager Don Pringle (Kirk) arrives on Catalina Island with his friend Charlie Moss (Brian Cutler), who is determined to teach the Arizona boy what the swingin' beach party scene is all about - and also hook him up with his sister, Tina. However, on the boat ride over, Don is taken by the exotic beauty of vaguely foreign Katrina Corelli (Ulla Strömstedt) - though she's on the island to accompany her fiance, the vaguely threatening Angelo. Meanwhile, another of Charlie's friends, Tad Duval, has arrived on the island along with his parents. Due to past history, he suspects they're up to something criminal. In reality, the parents have hired a burglar, Larry, to steal the scroll from the museum so they can craft a forgery and sell it to their rich foreign mark Dino Lakopolis. All the while, they're being trailed by the hapless insurance investigator, Fingers O'Toole, who just wants to recover the scroll for the museum and hopefully arrest the larcenous Duvals in the process. After one of Lakopolis' men attempts to steal the scroll from the Duvals, it winds up in the water - leading to not one, but two under water scuba diving knife fights in the film as the teens get wise to the scheme.

Will the scroll be recovered? Will Don get lucky with Katrina? Will Fingers have another pratfall that fails to garner any laughs?

The movie is largely obscure now, though it was featured in the second season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1990. For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, please go to the episode recap page.


This film provides examples of:

  • And Starring: Introducing Venita Wolf as 'Tina' ("Who's afraid of Venita Wolf, anyway?") and Brian Cutler as 'Charlie' ("Charlie, they cut off my thumbs!").
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Betty and Veronica: Tina and "Creepy Girl" Katrina.
    • There's also a Gender Flipped version, with Don and Angelo for Katrina.
  • Butt Monkey: Fingers is pretty much defined by his constant pratfalls. If there is even the slightest chance that he will trip, fall into the water, or create a scenario where someone slaps him, it will happen. After all of the abuse he suffers in the film, he finally can't even succeed at his original goal - arresting Arthur Duval for his numerous crimes - because his son Tad had secretly returned the scroll and thus left no evidence of Duval's crimes.
  • The Caper: Natch. Though much of the film ignores the scroll arc entirely as the caper is successfully pulled at the start of the film and the rest of it is how the parents intend to unload the scroll.
  • Chronic Villainy: Discussed; Tad says the scroll must be returned to its owners mainly because his amoral parents would be unable to resist the urge to commit some crime with it.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film ends, naturally, with every single character in the film that wasn't a villain rocking out to a song that was used earlier in the movie. Even Fingers, who amazingly doesn't get a pratfall.
  • Defective Detective: Fingers suffers from terrible luck.
  • Departmentof Redundancy Department: When telling about things to do on Catalina, Charlie mentions girls every other time.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Larry
  • Humans Are White: Little Richard is the only black person in the entire movie.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Katrina's pretty but somehow she manages to attract every single guy on the beach.
  • Loveable Rogue: Theoretically, Arthur Duval and Larry.
  • MacGuffin: The scroll really just exists to add some semblance of a plot.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Arthur Duval's voice and manner are clearly patterned after Jack Benny.
  • Only Sane Man: Tad is the only member of his family who is not involved in shadiness.
  • Pair the Spares: Don is immediately taken with Katrina, but Charlie sets him up with his sister Tina. Don almost immediately breaks off for Katrina when he finds her again on the beach. To get him jealous, Tina eventually grabs on to the unattached Tad, but ends up liking him better anyway.
  • Police Are Useless: The security at the museum utterly fails at keeping out intruders after hours. On top of that, he actually sees Tad right as he's put a high profile stolen art piece back and doesn't even notice until after Tad has left.
  • Romantic False Lead: Angelo
  • Scare 'Em Straight: In-Universe example; the kids conspire a Zany Scheme to not only recover the scroll, but scare the Duvals away from their life of crime.
  • Sexy Man, Instant Harem: Charlie
  • Stupid Crooks: Larry in particular is a terrible thief at the start of the film - making off with the scroll by sheer dumb luck while making a ton of noise and even knocking over priceless artifacts in the process. The parents aren't much better either, completely failing to even hang on to their valuable artifact. Finally, Lakopolis' minion ends up losing the scroll almost instantly by trying to make off with it when the parents were selling it to him in the first place.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The art museum housing priceless artifacts has just one idiot security guard. Two utter rookies break in and easily steal a valuable piece of art (and later return it!) without drawing any attention.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Never Steal Anything Wet", upgraded to Title Theme Tune in some re-releases.


The Castle Of Fu ManchuMystery Science Index 3000 Catching Trouble
Bonnie and ClydeFilms of the 1960sCool Hand Luke

alternative title(s): Catalina Caper
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