While the official start of summer isn’t until June 21, why not get a jump on your summer fun by lining up some great summer films now? Movies are very subjective, and people don’t always agree on the best ones. Some people love only certain genres, be it horror, comedy or drama. And some, like everything. And as we all know, there are some that are deemed “classic” or “must-sees.” I have my own list of summer classics that I thought I’d share here.
My list is eclectic — from the serious to the downright stupid — but I think it offers something for everyone. The only criteria is that each actually feels like summer, whether it’s part of the setting or the plot. And since I am not a horror fan, it does not include those that often make other must-see summer lists.
These are some of my favorite summer movies that I look forward to viewing year-after-year. You might agree with only some — or none at all. I would love to hear what your favorites are, so please share them in the comments section.
The Seven Year Itch (1955) - Tom Ewell plays a hapless husband who stays behind in the city to work, while he sends his wife and kids off on a summer vacation. While home alone, he’s tempted by his new neighbor, model Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to dinner and really tests his fidelity. While completely dated today, the film still brings many smiles. It showcases Monroe at her ditziest and sexiest, and features the iconic image of her white dress flowing and her feeling the “delicious breeze from the subway.” It really offers a glimpse into what caused Marilyn-mania.
Summertime (1955) – This film is another “dated” one but is well worth viewing, either for true romantics, or those who appreciate scenery; it was filmed entirely on location in Venice and captured with beautiful cinematography. Katherine Hepburn stars as an unmarried, middle-aged school teacher who saves up to visit Venice during her summer break, hoping to find romance and get rid of her lonely life. She does end up meeting the charming and handsome Rossano Brazzi, but alas, he is married with children. The story is both heartbreaking and hopeful, and shows Hepburn’s depth as an actress.
Jaws (1975) – This movie tells the story of a man-eating, great white shark that terrorizes a summer resort town and the sheriff, shark hunter, and marine biologist who hunt it down. It was the first “blockbuster” film that set the standard for summer films to follow. Those of us who were kids in 1975 will never forget seeing the shocking opening scene of a young girl getting chomped on as she’s swimming, or how long many of us avoided going into the ocean after we did. And of course there’s the ominous theme music that people still use to indicate something bad is about to happen.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) - I always think of this as kind of an updated Seven Year Itch because Chevy Chase spends a good part of the film chasing after and fantasizing about super model Christie Brinkley while completely ignoring his wife and kids. It is the ultimate vacation from hell film. In it, Chase decides to travel across country from Chicago to California to take his family to Wally World. Not surprisingly, any and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Like Jaws, it also started an entire genre of films to follow
Bull Durham (1988) - This is my favorite baseball movie. I never get tired of watching it — it’s romantic, it’s smart and sexy, and it’s funny. Kevin Costner plays catcher “Crash” Davis for a minor-league team the Durham Bulls that never seems to improve. He’s asked to “coach” young and not-so-bright pitcher Calvin “Nuke” La Noosh (played by Tim Robbins). They both become smitten with team groupie Susan Sarandon who, each season, also chooses one player to “coach.”
Dazed and Confused (1993) – This one might surprise people since I call these “classic” summer movies. But as lowbrow as this film is, for those of us who attended high school in the 1970s, it is dead on accurate for its portrayal of how high school was. Set on the last day of school in 1976, we follow the adventures of an incoming freshman who’s trying to avoid getting beat up, or “hazed” by the incoming seniors. A young Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck are both memorable in the film.
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