Surf Crazy (1959)

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Released 9-Apr-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Surfing None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 71:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bruce Brown

Warner Vision
Starring Joey Cabell
Donald Takayama
Mike Diffenderfer
Dick Thomas
Harry Nielson
John Richards
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Surf Crazy is the second movie from veteran surf film producer Bruce Brown. During this movie a group of surfers head down to numerous unsurfed spots in Mexico, some huge waves in Hawaii and some classic surf in California.

    This film follows a similar layout to the other surfing movies by Bruce Brown, with a number of surfing clips linked together with short comedy segments. These comedic interludes are limited in this film, with more action concentrated on surfing in comparison to his other movies.

    The first half of Surf Crazy is based around a surfing trip to Mexico by four surfers; Mike Diffenderfer, Dick Thomas, Harry Nielson and John Richards. On this trip, the group travels over seven thousand miles south, finishing at Acapulco. They venture to many surfing spots that had previously never been ridden, including Petatlan and Manzanillo.

   In the second half of Surf Crazy, the action moves to Hawaii where we are able to see some massive surf from the winter of 1959-60. Surfers are seen riding waves higher than twenty feet at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. At the time, this was some of the biggest surf ever ridden and still remains very impressive to this day.

    At the start of the film, Bruce Brown gives a short introduction where he describes some of the problems they had when travelling in Mexico and his memories of making the movie. He returns again during the intermission and gives a short history outlining what happened to many of the surfers featured in the film.

    Surf Crazy is another interesting and nostalgic look back at the early days of surfing. It features some huge waves and some very impressive surfing. If you have enjoyed other Bruce Brown films, then I am sure that you will find this just as interesting.

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Transfer Quality


    Film artefacts and damage to the original footage has been a constant problem during some of the other Bruce Brown films we have seen. Happily this transfer exhibits significantly less problems than we have seen in either Barefoot Adventure or Slippery When Wet, but it should still be remembered that this film is over forty years old.

    The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    As this film was shot on 16mm film the transfer is, as expected, never particularly sharp. This is not distracting at any stage, and just adds to the feeling that you are watching an old home movie. Shadow detail is rather poor during this transfer but this does not pose any real problem as all scenes are shot in brightly lit areas with the vast majority of the action taking place outdoors. There was no low level noise detectable during the transfer.

    The colours exhibited in the film are slightly muted as you would expect from a film of this type and age.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen at any stage during this film. Aliasing also poses no problem for the transfer with no occurrences during the feature.

   There is obvious film grain visible throughout the feature as you would expect from a movie shot on 16mm stock. This grain is easily ignored and is not distracting to the viewer. In addition to the grain there are constant film artefacts visible, and while their severity and frequency is reduced in comparison to other Bruce Brown films, they still are present throughout the transfer. Luckily these artefacts are easily ignored by the viewer and after a short time are not distracting. As seen in other Bruce Brown films, many scene changes show some damage at the points where the film is spliced. This results in a quick flash being visible at many of the edit points during the film but these are easily overlooked and are not distracting.

    A small number of NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts can be seen during the feature, with examples visible at 23:10 and 28:25. A couple of analogue tape errors can be seen during the introduction at 0:18 and 0:36 and occur for a single frame each. A brief example of dot crawl can be seen in a single scene at 2:54. All of these errors are not distracting to the viewer.

    Three subtitle tracks, French, German and Spanish, are included. These are displayed in a white font with a black outline and are easy to read at all times. I am unable to comment on the accuracy of these titles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The only audio track on this disc is the film's original mono soundtrack, presented as a Dolby Digital 1.0 192Kb/s track.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand during the film. As the film is narrated with a voice-over, dialogue sync was never a problem during the transfer. There were no audio dropouts at any stage.

    The score presented with this transfer is quite varied. It features numerous jazz and guitar numbers in addition to drawing influence from the Mexican locations. This score fits the action on screen quite well as is never distracting or overpowering.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not used at any stage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The themed menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has no accompanying audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both versions of this film appear to be identical and I therefore would have no preference for either version.


    Surf Crazy is another interesting addition to the Bruce Brown Golden Years of Surfing Collection. It shows impressive wave riding on huge swells from the early days of surfing.

   Both the video and audio presentation of this disc are quite adequate considering the nature of the source materials involved.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Monday, April 09, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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