Here is the next chapter in my series on what went on behind the scenes leading to the incredible success of Bruce Brown’s legendary surf film “The Endless Summer” (TES). It is the story of R. Paul Allen and the part he played not only in the production of the film but also in the promotion and eventual national distribution.
The story is told in Paul’s own words, taken from his email to me for this exclusive story. We take up the story with Paul in Wichita, Kan., doing a test run of the movie in order to prove to the bigwigs in New York that it would be a success more than 10 miles from the beach. The first showing had a packed house despite a raging snowstorm and a projectionist union strike. To add some spice to the day a bomb threat was phoned in shortly before the start.
“My immediate response was to evacuate the theater, but the police considered it to be a hoax and suggested not to as it would shut me down for the rest of the union strike, however long that might be. The theater manager agreed, and they encouraged me to hold off until they thoroughly searched the theater. As I sweated anxiously in the lobby consumed with the thoughts of a bomb killing and injuring all of us, the two bomb experts and the manager proceeded to thoroughly search every room in the theater, including the auditorium seat by seat with their flashlights and whispering to any irritated person that they were just looking for a lost wallet.
“After completing their search, their conclusion was ‘we feel confident that it’s okay to continue the movie, but it’s your decision.’ They seemed certain and assured me that it was a hoax and that their search was thorough. Consumed with overwhelming anxiety and a horror show going on in my head, we waited together in the lobby until after the bomb was supposed to go off.
“To prevent another bomb scare being repeated during the strike, the police requested not revealing the bomb threat to anyone. So, at the time, no one…