News Column

A look at some great movies set in the summer [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]

June 2, 2013


A few weeks ago, I saw a great movie called "Mud." Starring Matthew McConaughey and a couple of talented teen actors, it's a cross between the film "Stand By Me" and the book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Much of it takes place along the Mississippi River during a sweltering summer in Arkansas. It got me to wondering, what are some of the best movies of the last 50 years that take place in the summer? Here are 25 I have seen:

"A League of Their Own" (1992): One of my Top 3 movies about baseball, it's not only great fun, but it also educates viewers on the short-lived women's professional league.

"American Graffiti" (1973): A late summer night on the strip in 1962 with great music and many up-and-coming stars.

"Caddyshack" (1980): One of the funniest movies ever to take place on a golf course.

"Deliverance" (1972): Things really get hot for a group of guys who start out on an innocent canoe trip in the backwoods.

"Dirty Dancing" (1987): Set in the Catskills a summer later than "American Graffiti," it also boasts great songs and lots of fun.

"Dog Day Afternoon" (1975): You almost literally sweat along with Al Pacino and John Cazale in that bank.

"Field of Dreams" (1989): My favorite baseball movie, it's so cool that it was filmed in our back yard.

"(500) Days of Summer" (2009): I enjoyed the unique approach and the acting of both young leads, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

"The Graduate" (1967): This great film about a college graduate and Mrs. Robinson kick-started Dustin Hoffman's career.

"Independence Day" (1996): As far as this genre goes, you could do worse as Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum add some character to it.

"Jaws" (1975): This sits at No. 1 on most lists I found that rank movies about summer. Tough to argue.

"In the Heat of the Night" (1967): Another one of those sweltering summer movies set in the South, Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger are riveting.

"Little Miss Sunshine" (2006): The trip the family takes to the beauty pageant is priceless, as is the portrayal of Olive, by Abigail Breslin.

"Meatballs" (1979): One of several silly films on this list that include former "Saturday Night Live" actors.

"Mud" (2013): McConaughey might get an Oscar nomination for his role as the mysterious drifter.

"National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983): No matter how bad any of our summer vacations turn out to be, they'll pale in comparison to the Griswold's trip to Wally World.

"On Golden Pond" (1981): It's tough to watch some of the tense family dynamics in this late summer/early fall film, but it has many heartwarming rewards.

"The Sandlot" (1993): One of my Top 3 baseball movies, it makes me yearn for those days of youth and innocence.

"Stand By Me" (1986): The other side of the tracks of the boys in "The Sandlot," this movie based on a Stephen King book is an eye- opener.

"Summer of '42" (1971): I saw this coming-of-age film when I was a teenager and it left an impact. Has a pretty theme song, as well.

"Summer Rental" (1985): John Candy is hilarious in this movie set along the sizzling Florida beaches.

"Super 8" (2011): This sci-fi thriller takes place in the summer of 1979 and was produced by Stev en Spielberg.

"Taking Woodstock" (2009): Not a great film, but it does transport you to that summer in the New York Catskills.

"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008): Set in Spain, this Woody Allen film follows an intriguing love triangle involving Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johannson and Penelope Cruz.

"What About Bob?" (1991): This movie seems to grow on me every time I see it, with hilarious portrayals by Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss.

You can email Jim at

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