I am adding this review from my perspective as a journalist who has devoted four decades to coverage of diversity issues. And I'm writing this in summer 2017 as the new Wonder Woman movie has debuted and touched off a surprising level of inspirational writing about the emergent roles of all the women involved in that comic-book-inspired movie. Sometimes ground-breaking diversity bursts into American culture in unexpected ways.
That's certainly true of the Gidget francise, which included at least four feature films that still are in circulation, plus the very popular Sally Fields TV series (the later TV revival series, at this point, isn't available). It's easy to look back nostalgically at the original novel (updated in a 2001 edition) [[ASIN:B001QTV4OU Gidget]], then to dismiss the whole franchise as cheesy and dated in terms of its attitudes.
And that is the eye-opening value of this documentary in which a range of women surfing professionals talk about the way Gidget broke open conceptual barriers for them—whether they knew there was a "real" Gidget or not. Also, Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman appears throughout this documentary and explains how, as the "real" Gidget, she discovered this idealistic experience on the beach, then translated these surfing stories to her father, author Frederick Kohner. Turns out, the surfer guys were real young men (although Kathy and her father felt free to recast the characters in various ways in the novel). As amazing as it sounds, Kathy was able to make her way as a kind of "little sister" to these guys and was able to break into the somewhat esoteric world of surfing culture.
This documentary really did open my eyes, as a journalist, to this boundary-breaking cultural milestone. Plus, it's just downright fun to see the historical photos from Kathy's life, from the various movie and TV productions—along with commentary on how the whole story evolved. Important history—and just plain enjoyable viewing.