Summer is (finally) here, and the long weekend is just around the corner. There’s no better time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some classic summer flicks that are pretty much timeless in our eyes. Film critic Radheyan Simonpillai stopped by Your Morning to share some movies that summer isn’t complete without (plus, we added some of our personal favourites, too!) So, get cozy, grab some popcorn and get ready to re-experience the movies that are essential during the summer months.
You can’t have a discussion about summer movies without Jaws, which for so many people has come to define what a summer movie is. Not only is it one of the most thrilling adventures, Jaws is the movie that gave birth to the idea of the summer blockbuster. This is the movie that flooded the theatres in 1975, broke box office records, and gave Hollywood their model of how to do business when kids are out of school. But what makes Jaws the classic summer movie goes beyond the idea that it defined the summer blockbuster – it’s literally a movie about rescuing the summer from a great white shark.
Double Indemnity is generally considered one of the greatest and most influential crime movies ever, and its celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It’s a summertime murder-thriller that begins on a sweltering day where an insurance salesman is making his rounds. He steps into the home of Phyllis Deitrichson, who serves him some lemonade and lures him into a plot to commit murder.
This movie brings the heat. Its got a snappy, scintillating script that puts today’s movies to shame. Its got these terrific performances from Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson and Barbara Stanwyck, who is here playing the most iconic femme fatale in what is considered the most iconic example of film noir.
Do the right thing
One of the great summer movies, Do the Right Thing takes place on a single day in Brooklyn during a heat wave. The characters in this movie are looking for ways to stay cool, but both the rising temperature and rising tensions in the neighbourhood get the best of them. This is Spike Lee’s masterpiece. It’s a dazzling, comic and tragic eruption of a movie about racial tensions that is as true today as it was 30 summers ago.
Rear Window is another heat wave movie, but this one from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Its summertime in New York City, and everyone is enjoying the outdoors – except for L.B. Jeffries, who has a broken leg and is stuck in his Greenwich Village apartment. The whole movie is about how Jeffries sits in his wheelchair looking out his window, watching his neighbours as they do their gardening or hosting parties, and then he spies a murder.
The thing that makes Rear Window extra special—beyond just being another great suspenseful thriller from Alfred Hitchcock—is that it’s a movie about watching movies. Jeffries is sitting there looking out his window and watching his neighbours like he’s watching a movie. And so when you’re watching this movie, you’re in his position, trying to solve a murder from the same vantage point as him. Within that setup, this movie says a lot about the act of watching a movie: about voyeurism, and gender roles in movies.
Some people might argue whether Adventureland has reached classic status yet (it’s only 10 years old, after all). It wasn’t a huge hit when it opened – but its great. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds, they play young adults who work a summer job at an amusement park. You know the drill – parties, sex, summer love and the awkwardness of growing up – all the things that really define summer for young people. Summer is a coming of age story, it’s about finding love, and sometimes it’s just a laugh out loud comedy. Adventureland ticks off all of those boxes.
There isn’t a bad time to watch Grease, but summer is arguably the best. Set in the 1950’s, it’s all about the friendships, romances, and adventures of a group of high school kids that, of course, sing and dance their way through everything. It’s the most successful movie musical of all time, and is pretty much guaranteed to hit you with all the summer vibes and the magic of a high school summer.
Ferris Bueller’s Day off
Technically this movie takes place during the school year, but it has the most summer vibes EVER. Ferris Bueller, a young man bestowed with the skill of skipping class and getting away with it, wants to do things one more time before graduation. He calls in sick, rides around in a ‘borrowed’ Ferrari, and basically goes on an epic high school adventure for one day in the streets of Chicago.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has, in many circles, reached legend status due to its carefree attitude and unforgettable quotables. It has a ton of heart, is a tried and true coming-of-age story, and taps in to deep-rooted nostalgia. Basically, the textbook summer movie.
A truly heartwarming story about the strength of friendship and teamwork, The Goonies follows a group of young kids who battle against a property development country who is looking to destroy their home to build a country club. When the team finds an old pirate map in an attic, they follow it into a mysterious cave in order to hopefully find hidden treasure to buy their home back from destruction.
A jubilant adventure as exciting as it is enthralling, The Goonies captures the fabled moment in childhood where it’s you and your friends against the world, and nothing can stop you. This glimpse into all of our pasts is powerful enough to conjure memories in anyone, and for that reason The Goonies is a must-watch during the summer months.
I know what you did last summer
If you’re looking more for some summer mystery and horror, I Know What You Did Last Summer has that in spades. The 1997 film follows Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who, a year after accidentally killing a fisherman and dumping his body, receives a letter saying that she and her group of friends were seen committing the crime. What follows is a gruesome scene as a killer with a hook tracks down the group, and, you know, does what killers do.
A blood-pumping slasher, the movie was very successful commercially, and pulls the viewer right in to its terrifying story. It’s best viewed late at night, with the lights off, volume up. Summer is all about fun, and what’s more fun than giving yourself a little scare?