Eddy Crane (Tony Travis) is a down-on-his-luck kid in the late 50s/early 60s who, along with his FiveBadBand pack of hoodlums -- Mooney (Peter Breck), Red, DarkChick Iris and SatelliteCharacter Chuck -- lives only to rob convenience stores for petty cash and then lounge around. That is, until one day when talent scout Harry Bayliss happens upon Eddy singing ("You call that singin'? That was nothin'!" [[InformedAbility You can say that again...]]) and quickly tries to sign him to a big record deal. Eddy is at first bitter and reluctant but eventually agrees, on the stipulation that his hoodlum gang can stay with him.

Off to downtown L.A. where Eddy meets the Helen, Bayliss' secretary, setting up the inevitable LoveTriangle. As Helen begins grooming the rather rough (or so we're told) Eddy into a straight-laced star, he begins to see the futility of his Beatnik ways. His {{Poisonous Friend}}s, on the other hand, are bound and determined not to let him leave them behind in his rise to the top, and continue to create mischief and mayhem -- which culminates when AxCrazy Mooney shoots a barkeeper dead during an altercation, thus jeopardizing not only Eddy's career, but his entire future.

Tony Travis had a very brief film and television career, fizzling one year after his big break in this movie.

For the ''MysteryScienceTheater3000'' version, please go to the [[Recap/MysteryScienceTheater3000S04E15TheBeatniks episode recap page]].

!!This film contains examples of the following:
* AxCrazy: Mooney.
* BettyAndVeronica: Helen and Iris.
* DownerEnding: Eddy [[spoiler: sacrifices his career]] to atone for his past crimes.
* DrunkenMontage: After Eddy (briefly) drops out of show business and breaks up with Helen, he takes a Noir Walk through Los Angeles. As it turns out, though, he's not actually drunk (that we know of).
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Iris invokes this deliberately, just for kicks.
* HamToHamCombat: After Red gets shot, it's a toss-up between him and Mooney as to who's better at making their own gravy and splashing it up on film.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Mooney's threat to the hotel manager: "I'm gonna ''MOOOOOOON'' YOU!!"[[note]]'''[[MST3K Servo]]:''' You know, hang my butt out![[/note]]
* HeyItsThatGuy: Peter Breck as Mooney.
** Written and directed by ... [[ManofAThousandVoices Paul Frees]]? Yes, ''that'' Creator/PaulFrees.
* InformedAbility: Eddy's prozaic stage presence somehow sends teenage girls ([[EvenTheGuysWantHim and guys too]]) into screaming fits of [[Music/TheBeatles Beatle-esque]] hysteria.
-->'''Eddy:''' You call that singin'? That was nothin'!
** To be fair, Eddy's crooning still had some popularity - in TheFifties, not TheSixties.
* InformedAttractiveness: Helen. To be completely fair, of course, she's merely following the styles and trends of her day; but her too-huge eyes, tightly pulled back platinum hair and pancake makeup provide her with an unfortunate resemblance to a skull. The harsh lighting and the black-and-white film stock aren't doing her any favors either.
* LargeHam: Peter Breck, again, as Mooney.
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Mooney [[LargeHam KILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!]]
* NonIndicativeTitle: There are no beatniks in ''The Beatniks''.[[note]]The film seems to mean beat - as in ''music'' - niks.[[/note]]
* PoisonousFriend: Once again, Peter Breck as Mooney. He avoids being TheStarscream soley because he doesn't want to be a leader: "Leaders got too much on their ''minds'', man... I only got time for one thing --" [incomprehensible hand gesture; EvilLaugh]]
** The rest of Eddie's "friends" aren't much better; determined to keep Eddie in their circle of petty criminals.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: [[RunningGag I KILLED THAT FAT BARKEEP!]]
** In addition, the diner is on FAWTH STREET!
* SatelliteCharacter: Chuck the Fifth Beatnik.
* ShoppingMontage: Helen takes Eddy out on the town to get him cleaned up for his big break.
* SlasherSmile: [[OverlyLongGag Still again]], Peter Breck as Mooney.
* WordSaladLyrics: "Sideburns don't need your sympathy..." Well, I can see how WHAT???
* WorstNewsJudgmentEver: Mooney thinks the barkeep murder will make him as famous as Eddy.