12 Classic Summer Movies

Summer is here, but it's too hot. Stay indoors and catch up on classic summer movies. Here's a list to get you started.
Sandra Dee in Gidget


Gidget (1959) - A kid finds a new beach hangout for the summer. It's Sandra Dee! She learns to surf and meets some cute guys in this classic coming-of-age story beach romp. Watch a Gidget clip here.

Life With Father (1947) - William Powell plays the bombastic father to four boys whose summer vacation at home is filled with surprises. Watch the preview here.
Life With Father

The Seven Year Itch (1955) - That iconic summer film about a guy who might lose his inhibitions when his wife and son go away for the summer. There's a blonde wearing a famous, lightweight halter top dress in this film. Now, what is her name...

Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) - Hired hand Paul Newman sets his heart on capturing his boss' daughter in this film adaptation of William Faulkner's dramatic short stories of Southern life. Love that theme song - dreamy and soothing. The trailer is here.

Rear Window

Rear Window (1954) - Films exclusively set in summer usually contain wide, expansive shots of the great outdoors. In this Hitchcock murder mystery, however, the claustrophobic indoor setting will have you sweating along the hero. Trailer here.

A Summer Place (1959) -If you're in the mood for a summer drama, this Sandra Dee-Troy Donahue vehicle about star-crossed lovers on vacation is your dish. The couple discovers there is more behind their parents' reluctance to their dating than mere propriety. Trailer here.

Summertime (1955) - Single and lonely Katharine Hepburn vacations in Venice. With Rozzano Brazzi around the corner, she might not be alone for long. Beautiful location shots.  Watch a clip of their meetcute here.


On An Island With You
Any Esther Williams picture, no matter the season, will have balmy weather since our million dollar mermaid must have a spectacular body of water in which to show off her champion swimming skills. One of my favorites is On An Island With You (1948), since the deliciously gorgeous Peter Lawford  gets goo-goo eyes for our star. Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse  share more than one fabulous dance number, like this one [click here].

Nice Girl?
Nice Girl?(1941) - Deanna Durbin gets the hots for her father's summer house guest, Franchot Tone, and ruins her reputation in this musical comedy. It also features Robert Stack as the cooky, often-shirtless boyfriend. Durbin sings a few tunes, including "Beneath the Lights of Home."

Oklahoma! (1955)- "It's summer and we're running out of ice," laments Gordan McCrae's cowboy Curly in this dramatic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of unrequited love, loneliness, humor and song all wrapped in a western. See trailer here.

Summer Stock

Summer Stock (1950) - When the heat rises, New York performer Gene Kelly puts on a show in Judy Garland's barn. Of course the barn is as big and as glamorous as a sound stage so that you can have performances like this one [click here].

Two Weeks With Love
Two Weeks With Love (1950) -  Young Jane Powell has eyes for Ricardo Montalban during the family's two week vacation in the Catskills. Watch for a cute subplot featuring Debbie Reynolds (as little sister Melba) and Carleton Carpenter.

Now go outside and get some fresh air!

What are your favorite, classic summer-themed films?


  1. A marvelous list! I especially enjoy the inclusion of one of my old favorites, TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE. :)

    Thanks for an enjoyable read,

  2. You've thought of everything necessary for a wonderful summer: the Big Kahuna, Clarence Day (and some trinkets from Tiffany's), snoopy nosed Jeffries, Curly (for some serenading) and the charms of Rosanno Brazzi and Ricardo Montalban.

    I can't wait to see what you have planned for fall!

  3. I also love to watch The Seven Year Itch (1955),
    Rear Window (1954), On An Island With You (1948), during the summer months. I would also like to add..

    Neptune's Daughter and Romance on the High Seas.

  4. Love this list!! I really want to see "Two Weeks with Love" but it's been hard to find. Great post! (P.S. Love all of the Ricardo Montalban films you've included!)

  5. Great list! I love the idea of summer recommendations for old movies. :)

  6. Java, I loved this list. Last week, I wrote my own "5 Best Movies to Watch on a Summer Day" (to be posted later this week). Guess what? Two of your movies are on my list, too! I did not include REAR WINDOW, whiich is a perfect choice. What a fun list!

  7. Wonderful movies all! Two of my very favorite movies here (although they are all fun): The Long Hot Summer (hot is the word), and Oklahoma. I loved the line you quoted - always makes me laugh!

  8. Laura, I haven't seen TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE in a long time, but it remains a favorite of mine as well. Thanks for linking to this blog post.

    Caftan Woman, you're a hoot! :) I hadn't thought a of fall edition;you've given me a good idea.

    Dawn, yes! Fun films both! Neptune's Daughter was my favorite of the Montalban-Williams films for a long time because he's not playing second fiddle to someone else, and he's not bursting with fury. He's just calm, charming and bemused by the whole wacky situation.

    Of course, the two of them singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in sunny California is hilarious and sensual.

    Sally, yes TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE is hard to find. But Amazon sells it in a DVD package with another Jane Powell film, NANCY GOES TO RIO, for a whopping $35. You can browse around the used section of Amazon for a cheaper price.

    Hi Audrey. Thanks for stopping by.

    Rick! Classic movies fans think alike. :) I look forward to reading your list as soon as it comes out!

    ClassicBecky, I love movies that are deeply sensual without a torrid sex scene (both the films you mentioned have that). :)
    By the way, congratulations on becoming a CMBA Board member.

    -- JAVA

  9. Thanks for the congrats, Java! I couldn't agree with you more about sensual vs. openly sexual in movies. My two boys were coming into their teens in the MTV video era. I loved a lot of those, but they began to be more and more raw. So I had the boys watch with me some classic movie musical numbers that were extremely sensual, but also had fun and romance in them. One was Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in American in Paris, when they danced that beautiful sensual number on the fountain. Another was Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in Singing in the Rain, that great number in the speakeasy. Also Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse doing Dancing in the Dark. I just wanted them to experience the beauty, fun and romance of sex, not just the T&A stuff so prevalent now. Best of all, they loved them!

  10. Luv your list, Java...before I read it I thought about summer movies and a few that you included popped into my head: "A Summer Place, "Gidget" and "The Seven Year Itch." Your post reminded me of a movie I saw as a child at our local theater with my older cousin and his family - "Summer Magic," a Disney film with Dorothy McGuire, Hayley Mills, Burl Ives and Una Merkel. Very fond memories of the film and the night, a hot summer night, as I recall.

  11. Java,
    Just when I had enough to do this summer you come up with this list that makes me want to re-visit all of these films so thanks a lot!

    I swoon every time I think of Paul Newman in "The Long Hot Summer" My favorite on your list.

    I love the post!

  12. ClassicBecky, I'm so glad your sons like classic films! Continuing your list - Leslie Caron's rather sensuous modern dance in the tight-fitting, orange-red dress while Fred Astaire watches in DADDY LONG LEGS. I had no idea she's supposed to be a prostitute!

    My sister and I would burst out laughing every time we watched it. We called it "the itchy, scratchy dance" since the quick, jerky movements made cherub-faced Leslie appear to have a severe case of poison ivy.

    LADYEVE, Thank you! How could I have forgotten SUMMER MAGIC? I watched it once on the Disney Channel and couldn't forget it. It wasn't until last year that I bought the DVD and was enchanted all over again with Disney's 1960s live action films.

    I love Hayley Mills' Disney movies! My favorite of hers is IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS. Might include that one in my winter movie list.

    PAGE, thanks! Paul Newman's gaze and that lingering "bad boy" smirk makes me melt!

  13. For summer, I'd go low-brow with "Wet Hot American Summer" and a beach-blanket movie or two.

    "Endless Summer," for the surfing and the 60s vibe.

    A friend of mine appears briefly in "Jaws," running and shrieking on the beach, so I'd have to count that one.

    My daughter has 30 seconds in "Furry Vengeance." A vote for Furry.

    And finally, "Do the Right Thing" for the summer heat and the drama.


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About Java

"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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