TCM/Running Press, 2021
When I first heard of Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics, I imagined a tribute to films like Gidget (1959) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), with maybe a few coming-of-age and summer camp comedies thrown in. There’s a lot more to the films author John Malahy has selected for this book though and more viewing suggestions than the thirty featured flicks.
Of course, Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo are both a blast and worthy of inclusion in any list of summer movies, but there are several less obvious, but equally apt entries included here. There are also films that evoke the feeling of summer, like Rear Window (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), and Do the Right Thing (1989), in addition to travelogues and tributes to summer vacation.
Summer movies often play on the passions, sense of adventure, and poor decisions that can come from blazing heat and lowered inhibitions. That free-wheeling spirit can unleash itself on the beach, at the fair, and during summer camp, but it can also be found on city streets, shut up in a hotel room, or in a stuffy apartment. The films collected here unfold in locations around the world, with a wide array of characters, and all with the common denominator that business as usual falls aside when temperatures soar.
I love that each entry has a double feature suggestion. While complementary, they are generally more adventurous films, offering a contrast to the more mainstream selections of the core list. This does much to increase the appeal of the book for more knowledgeable film fans.
Malahy clearly has a deep and diverse understanding of cinema, which makes this a more compelling read than the cheery cover might suggest. It’s a fun book, light enough for browsing on the beach, but substantial in detail and with thoughtful analysis.
Many thanks to TCM/Running Press for providing a copy of the book for review.