Six Classic Summer Movies

I think my favorite type of movie might be a good summer movie. I love movies you can sink your teeth into; movies full of symbolism and meaning, but I also delight in a ridiculous comedic romp and old Hollywood really specialized in those! I don't think modern movie comedies compare (some of the movies on this list have been remade and often I think to poorer versions with a heavy reliance on dumb humor). But a good summer movie is not just a comedy to me, but also one with adventure--afterall if anything exciting is going to happen in your life don't you think it will happen in summer? Summer is a transformative time when we end one school year and attempt to mature/transform ourselves before the next year or at least try to cast off our burdens for a few brief weeks and live life to the fullest. However you see summer these films should keep you entertained some hot evening...
Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation (1962): This is perhaps my favorite summer comedy movie! It stars Jimmy Stewart as a beleagured dad (Jimmy is probably my favorite movie dad) just trying to have a good holiday with his family at their beach house but things keep going wrong. The house is dilapidated, the neighbors are nosy, his teenage children refuse to go outside, and unwelcome in-laws come to visit. Mr. Hobbs tries to solve each crisis sometimes to hilarious results, but unlike a lot of modern comedies made in the same vein Hobbs is endearing; it's clear how much he loves his family and wants what is best for them. A perfect flick for everyone who's survived a disaterous family vacation that ended up being one of their best/most memorable summers; afterall the worst trips make for the best stories and laughs later on.
Roman Holiday (1953): Audrey Hepburn's first film was undoubtedly one of her best, if only all of us could make an equally brillant entrance to the world! This film embraces all of the tenants of a good summer adventure as a wayward princess impulsively runs away from her guardians for a few days to have the week of her life running around Rome with a handsome and charming stranger. Gregory Peck is delightful as a reporter torn between his admiration for the young princess's audacity and his cynical side trying to capture her antics for his newspaper. I also recently learned that Hepburn was given her costumes in this film (which would look as chic today as they did in the 50s) at the end of filming, which really is the icing on the cake of this delightful movie that launched her career.
The Black Swan (1940s): Not to be confused with that Black Swan, this one is named after a pirate ship and was made in the 1940s. I have a weakness for cheesy pirate movies and The Black Swan is one of the best of that genre. All of the good swashbuckling goofy-romance of your favorite guilty pleasure chick-lit in visual form with fiery Maureen O'Hara as the damsel (not in distress) who gets kidnapped by pirates. A former pirate is made Govenor of Jamaica and given the task ridding the Carribean of other pirates; some like Captain Jamie Waring decide to go straight as well, while others refuse to give up the pirate lifestyle (because why would you?). It's a charming, silly, romantic-adventure film that perfectly suits this hazy season.
The Parent Trap (1961): Before the remake starring Lindsey Lohan there was this delightful film with 60s teen darling Hayley Mills. The plot is very similar to the remake, but there are distinct lines and scenes in the original that are too good to pass up even if you've seen the new one (the pranks!). My sister and I also used to practice the "Let's Get Together" duet. Either way both films start with one of the main staples of the American summer: summer camp. Summer camp movies could probably be a whole sub-genre (although the closest I ever got to one was choir camp)! Randomly, this is also the third film with Maureen O'Hara in it on this list! She is one of my favorite old Hollywood actresses...
Bonjour Tristesse (1958): Unlike the other films on this list, Bonjour Tristesse is not light-hearted or a comedy (as the title "Hello Sadness" might imply), but it is a summer film that gets under your skin and sizzles. Like so many summer films it's a coming of age story starring Jean Seberg as Cecile. Cecile previously used to an irresponsible and carefree father watches as a more mature relationship for him means growing up for her as well and she rebels to disasterous results. In between the drama enjoy scenes of the sun-soaked French Riveria and lifestyles of the wealthy and frivolous. The costuming is very covet worthy and might inspire your next holiday look.
Belles On Their Toes (1952): Belles On Their Toes is the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, the film based on the real-life of efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth and his twelve children with wife Lillian Gilbreth. While the first film is also fantastic and hilarious, the sequel might be my favorite as it follows the slightly older children through a transformative summer as they creatively struggle to make ends meet and find romance at the beach.


to top