12 ANGRY MEN (1957) - 12 jurors locked in a hot room trying to decide a murder case. Electric fan spins. Handkerchiefs wipe brows. Tempers flare as hot as the outside temperature.
1776 (1972) - This is exactly how the founding fathers came up with the Declaration of Independence. Yes, they really sang! And it's hot as hell in Philadel-phia!
THE BLOB (1958) - Could there be a more summery 50's monster flick with Steve McQueen (and, don't forget, a cast of exciting young people!) drag-racing at stoplights . . . backwards. Steve and Aneta (who couldn't STAND each other in real life) necking out under the summer stars. Oh yeah, and there's that carnivorous jelly falling from the sky inside a meteorite.
DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) - Technically this starts in the Spring since it depicts the last day of school. But the last day of school means SUMMER -- so what if it hasn't OFFICIALLY the summer solstice by the calendar. This movie really gets the feel of the beginning of summer vacation. Alice Cooper's "School's Out" blares on the soundtrack and I'm transported right back to 1976! That summer breeze makes me feel fine.
DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) - My perfect idea for a summer vacation: a trip down the Nile on a riverboat with Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the bodies piling up around me. Of course, the cocktails continue to flow. . .including that infamous drink The Crocodile. Barman! This crocodile's lost it's croc!!!
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005) - I can't think of many more movies that convey the sweltering heat better than this dry and dusty bloodfest from Rob Zombie which VASTLY improves on his previous House of 1000 Corpses. Truly unsettling enough to give you goosebumps in a heat wave!
DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965) - The perfect summer cinematic cotton candy from that quintessential summer party studio: American International Pictures. Vincent Price camps it up with Frankie Avalon and a bevy of bikini-wearing robots. This movie goes down as smooth as a soft serve ice cream cone -- with just the same amount of nutritional value!
THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970) - I'm not sure exactly WHAT time of year this movie is supposed to take place but it's not winter or fall and has always felt like summer to me. Particularly the end with the (what feels to me like) hot summer wind whipping through the trees as Wilbur Whateley's demonic (and invisible) half-brother terrorizes the local populace (as well as Sandra Dee). Listen for the whipporwills. . .
THE FLESH EATERS (1964) - This sleazy b&w horror takes places on a tropical desert island under the blazing sun. The island plays host to an ex-Nazi mad doctor (the ALWAYS Nazi-portraying Martin Kosleck) and swarms of. . .SOMETHING. . .that will eat the flesh right off of you.
THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW (1959) - Sure, I could have picked any number of AIP's Frankie & Annette Beach movies but that would've been too easy. Besides, this silly SILLY B&W bit of fluff has been more a favourite of mine for years and features kids out of school, hot rodding, beach-bumming, slumber-partying and sock-hopping! Why look any further than right here?
JAWS (1975) - OK, maybe too obvious but I remember vividly the furor caused by this book and movie the summer it came out. I was just a kid and didn't get in to the theater to see it. This was also the first summer blockbuster film.
JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY (1960) - Speaking of firsts, this was the very first concert film EVER and it depicts the Newport Jazz Festival of 1959 with stellar performances from Louis Armstrong, Anita O'Day, Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry and many more. All this interspersed with the summer activities going on around the festival in gorgeous technicolor.
KEY LARGO (1948) - What could be more summery than a group of people trapped by gangsters in a hotel in the Florida Keys during hurricane season? I mean. . .I ask you!
LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (1962) - My my but the air is stifling in here. Perfectly fitting for the single hot summer day depicted in this often harrowing (and brilliant) film version of Eugene O'Neill's play starring Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards and Dean Stockwell.
THE LOVE LETTER (1999) - Events take place around the 4th of July in the mythical New England town which is in reality filmed in my most beloved areas of Massachusetts. . .and THAT'S why I love watching this film. . .because I recognize each place in each scene. Oh and there's actors doing stuff in front of them apparently.
ROCK 'N' ROLL WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1964) - Summer isn't summer without a film starring Las Luchadoras -- those rockin' Wrestling Women who fight monsters in between bouts in the ring.
ON GOLDEN POND (1981) - The story of an aging couple's last summer on Golden Pond with enough skinny dipping, fishing, sailing and strawberry picking to make the summer feeling come alive.
THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) -- I also don't know precisely WHEN this movie is supposed to take place but the dust-storm dryness and heat say summer to me. Bette Davis working the counter of a "last chance" greasy spoon with drifter Leslie Howard and wanted criminal Humphrey Bogart (in the role that made him a star).
THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES (1955) - A new addition to my summer viewing list, this dopey grade-Z monster movie (where the monster is mostly an afterthought) takes place mostly at the beach and groups of beach houses. While there are other (and better) aquatic monster movies, I'm choosing this one over such candidates as Creature From the Black Lagoon or The Monster of Piedras Blancas because the summer vibe is stronger (at least for me) in this one.
REAR WINDOW (1954) - The perfect summer Hitchcock film. Ask me what the perfect Autumn Hitchcock film is when we get there.
SAY ANYTHING... (1989) - Yet another final day of school. However, unlike Dazed and Confused, the movie only STARTS on the last day of school and depicts the entire summer following. Oh, and kickboxing . . .the sport of the future.
THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955) - I try to watch this one EVERY summer. From the moment Marilyn Monroe gets her fan caught in the door, this is a hot one. This is also one of those films where you can practically FEEL the summer heat (as well as the deliciousness of air conditioning).
STAND BY ME (1986) - That nostalgic summer when a group of boys go looking for a corpse. If only MY boyhood summers were this good!
SUMMER STOCK (1950) - OK, I suppose I had to have a summery musical and this is it. It's summer and Gene Kelly convinces Judy Garland to put on a show in the barn. Come on, this is summery as lemonade, folks!
SUMMERTIME (1955) - OK, I guess this one WAS too obvious but the depiction of spinster Katharine Hepburn's summer trip to Venice is yet another perfect summer vacation.
THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED (1966) - The wet, southern summer comes alive in this favourite from my youth. . .but ALL the heat's not coming from the season. Natalie Wood and Robert Redford make things sizzle even more.
TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948) - That desert heat again. And that desert greed. Again, another classic "hot" movie that belongs in every summer movie marathon. Like this one.
TWISTER (1996) - I can't begin my summer without watching this craptacular cheesefest featuring a raging Bill Paxton. Dontcha just love tornado hunters?
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) - the perfect 50's summer science fiction invasion movie which begins on a warm summer's evening during a country square dance. For some reason, I always recall watching this on TV during the summer as a kid.
THE WARRIORS (1979) - A favourite of my parents, this one features the events (extremely WACKY events) of one summer's night where all the gang's come out for a meeting across town and the head gang guy is murdered. Our gang (the Warriors, natch) are framed and have to hightail it BACK to their own turf -- through all the other rival gang's turfs -- who are now out to kill them. Oh warriors.........come out to plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy. . .
WATTSTAX (1973) - The Black Woodstock indeed. This summer music festival to commemorate the anniversary of the Watts riots features a bevy of great 70's Stax artists including the Staples Singers, Rufus Thomas and Isaac Hayes.
THE WHALES OF AUGUST (1987) - Two elderly sisters (Bette Davis and Lillian Gish) spend the summer at their summer house waiting for the appearance of the whales and coming to terms with their own mortality. Ably assisted by a touching performance by Vincent Price and welcome appearances from Ann Sothern and Harry Carey, this is a gentle screen farewell from a quartet of movie greats.
So there you have it. Grab a nice cool drink and program some summer movies of your OWN into your DVD. Or better yet -- grab the extension cord and plop your TV on the hood of your car and pretend you're at a drive-in. It works every time!