The actor George Raft palled around with Bugsy Siegel, and the Rat Pack certainly enjoyed its fair share of comped drinks with gangsters. But the most bizarre intersection of celebrity and the criminal element has to be the chumminess that developed in 1968 between Dennis Wilson, drummer of the fun-in-the-sun Beach Boys, and Charles Manson.
The dense one-hour documentary The Beach Boys and the Satan (first released in 1997, it’s available on DVD 9/30) charts the course of the entire sixties SoCal culture, from early blissful surf scenes to Tate-LaBianca murder photos. Wilson’s association with members of the Manson family, which preceded the killings by a year, was short-lived, but it stands in stunning contrast to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” optimism. Plenty of rare early footage pops up, along with interviews of Don Was, Kenneth Anger, and Brian Wilson — sitting at his home piano, still chasing the perfect melody.
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