End of Summer Movie Night

The end of summer may be drawing near, but for those us who want to hold onto that sweet summer fun just a bit longer, one of the best ways to do this is with a fun “Summer Movie Might.” Whether it be in the comfort of your own home, at a special screening in the park, on a television, or from a projector, these are some films that are perfect reflections and companions to the summer season, whether it be in the heart of it or in those sweet final days.

Classic

The Parent Trap (1961)

The original and superior film, this Disney classic starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara is a funny, sweet and naturalistic classic look at two girls who meet at summer camp and realize they are sisters, separated and each going with a different parent when they were just babies. That realization is quite sad when you examine it, but when they devise a plan to switch places in hopes of getting their parents back together, in turn it becomes a heartwarming and often hilarious film. Taking place in the summertime, the scenes at Camp Inch and at the father’s home in Monterey, California are rich with warmth, sunshine and sweetness of a more carefree era.

Gidget (1959)

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A slice of Americana, 50’s and 60’s era summer nostalgia, Gidget starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson is both adorable, light-hearted fun about the surfing craze and beach lifestyle of the time period, as well as a surprisingly poignant look at the complexities, confusion and pangs of being a teenager on the cusp of adulthood when it comes to love, sex, and what you want out of life. It’s simply seen with a lens that is less explicit than modern cinema, but still relatable. Of course at its core, the adventures of Gidget, Moondoggie and the Big Kahuna  are sweet summer fun.

Summer Magic (1963)

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Another oh so sweet lesser known Disney family film, is for those with a love for old fashioned sensibilities and way of life. Following a family who have fallen on hard times after the death of their father, they find happiness again in the Yellow House in the provincial town of Beluah, Maine where life is slow, and the people are friendly and generous. This may not be for everyone, but it’s rich with nostalgia of a bygone era. Taking place from summer all the way to Halloween, Summer Magic is a sweet showcase of overcoming loss and finding beauty in the little things from serenades on the front porch, to games of croquet and carving pumpkins.

Romance/Drama

Letters to Juliet (2010)

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Lovely little tale for the hopeless romantics, this film is not only beautiful in the sun-kissed splendor of Italy, but in the story of Sophie and the “Juliet” she helps to find her long lost love, while also finding a little romance of her own. What makes this film so lovely is that it showcases a love story that is about those who have lived a long life and yet their hearts still beat for each other after many years apart. A fine cast including Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave, this modern tale of love in Verona is the perfect romantic summer delight.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series (2005, 2008)

Touching, poignant, relatable interweaving stories of four best friends as they make the transition into young adulthood, going through the trails and tribulations of young love, the loss of loved ones, personal struggles, and insecurities, all while sharing a miraculous pair of jeans that somehow magically fits all of them. Over the course of two summers, these four young women discover so much about themselves and life and realize that their bond, their sisterhood is an unbreakable one, and that together, or apart, true friends will always be there to offer love, support and comfort as soft as a well worn pair of jeans.

Musical

La La Land (2016)

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City of Stars, are you shining just for me? A bittersweet love story, a nostalgic, colorful musical splendor, a love letter to the beauties of Los Angeles, La La Land is all that and more. If you are a lover of the old fashioned musical and a modern romantic story, then this is the perfect combination. It makes one want to head to LA and see all of its local treasures. It may be a bit of a fantasy, but it’s one wrapped in love, joy and the thrill of summer days and nights filled color and music. And who does not love the effervescent duo of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who shine as brightly as that city of stars.

Summer Stock (1950)

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland made three films together for MGM, and this one is by far the sweetest, funniest, and brightest of the bunch. A summer stock company led by Kelly descends on Garland’s farm, as her sister, often carefree and thoughtless, brings them to rehearse their upcoming production. Of course, mayhem ensues and well as the romantic entanglements that so often fill these type of musicals are presents, as well as lovely musical numbers, incredible dancing, the fantastic chemistry between Garland and Kelly, and just wondrous summertime fun for all.

Adventure

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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The first (and still the best) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a perfect, swashbuckling adventure. Filled with humor, romance, a creative story, incredible cast, and characters that have become so a part of our culture, The Curse of the Black Pearl is not only a great “popcorn” flick for a summer night, but ones that never seems to grow old, no matter how many times we watch and are transported to the exotic and beautiful Caribbean, frightening battles of moonlight crews of skeletons, romantic tension of young Elizabeth and Will, and hilarious, captivating Captain Jack Sparrow, the clever rapscallion we all adore.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The strength of the human spirit, the importance of love and family, and the admiration of ingenuity and bravery are what make this story of a family who are stranded on an island truly special. They must learn to adapt to this new world while encountering wild animals and fending off cutthroat pirates in this Disney classic based on the book of the same name. It’s a fun and touching family adventure film that remains a lovely, timeless classic.

Sports

The Sandlot (1993)

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No matter if you love or play baseball, this coming of age story of kids learning about this sport and themselves is a hilarious and often sweet look at childhood, its pangs and its simple joys, is one we can all can find something to relate to. Nostalgic, funny and rich with a small town American vibe, the summer spent with these young boys changes their lives forever, and the film has become part of or culture. Forever we will quote it when we think of that summer classic treat s’mores. If you don’t know the line, “You’re killing me Smalls,” do yourself a favor and check out this hoot of a summertime family film.

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

Soccer, or as it is known in the UK where this film is set, Football, may not be a sport we all are familiar with. But the story of two young women who want so much to play while dealing with families who do not necessarily approve or understand is one that remains always relatable and poignant. Both dealing with cultural and gender issues, breaking free from the norms, and coming out triumphant and happy is a story that we should always delight in, celebrate and encourage to see more of. Bend it Like Beckham is a perfect film to end the summer with.

What are your favorite films to watch in the summer? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comments!!

 

Classic Film Favorites: TCM Spotlight on Van Johnson

Every year I look forward to the Turner Classic Movies “Summer Under the Stars” because each day a different actor from the classic era is highlighted. Although I may have missed one in the past, this year I am thrilled to finally see a day dedicated to one of my favorite actors: Van Johnson. He isn’t just Lucy’s dance partner from an episode of I Love Lucy– although that is one of my favorites, don’t you agree?

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Johnson was charming, handsome, so, so talented,  and one of those rare performers who seamlessly went from genre to genre in the 40s and 50s, something that many of this era did not– or at least successfully. But Johnson could do a light romantic comedy, a melodrama, a musical, or a war story amongst others and in each one he brought his own charisma and talent. This Thursday, August 25 is a day dedicated to him and the films that have been selected demonstrate just what an amazing and versatile actor he was. Here are my personal favorites:

10 am EST, 7 am PST
Duchess of Idaho
Also Starring: Esther Williams, John Lund, Paula Raymond
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard

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This is perhaps my favorite film for both Johnson and his leading lady Esther Williams. A breezy and funny delight, it’s the kind of silly, sweet romantic comedy escapades that so many long for. While Esther’s Christine Duncan is pretending to romance ladies man Douglas Morrison (to make him realize he’s really love with her best friend Ellen) she meets Van’s charming singer Dick Layn and the two are stubborn but clearly smitten with each other. And well things get complicated as they always do. Williams and Johnson made four films together and you can see why – they have an adorable and natural chemistry together. This film is just frothy fun from start to finish – the kind of movie that just makes you smile and feel good.

12 noon EST, 9 am PST
In the Good Old Summertime
Also Starring: Judy Garland, S.Z. Sakall, Spring Byington
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard

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One of the most remade stories ever, this musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner also stars Judy Garland and takes place at the turn-of-the-century in Chicago and it’s as lovely and sweet as the original. That’s right-before You’ve Got Mail and the other musical adaptation She Loves Me came this picturesque movie. The difference here is that rather than original songs, they use famous songs of the era as the two pen pals who unknowingly fall in love with each other work in a musical shop. The similarities are also wonderful with one of the most famous scenes being nearly word for word as the original and yet just as enjoyable. This is a truly charming film.

1:45 EST, 10:45 am PST
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Also Starring: Spencer Tracy, Robert Walker, Phyllis Thaxter
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy

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This engrossing World War II drama is based on that true story of B25 pilots who volunteered for a secret mission that became known as the “Doolittle Raid.” And while that is successful, complications and tragedy arises for the crews of this mission specifically those played by Johnson and Walker. For anyone who loves history or a compelling drama, this movie is not just about a mission from the war. It’s about the individuals who served bravely, those who helped them in immeasurable ways, and the families who are left behind. Don’t worry, it does have a happy ending –but bittersweet and touching and most especially moving to those wounded in the line of duty.

10 pm EST, 7 pm PST
Miracle in the Rain
Also Starring Jane Wyman
Directed by Rudolph Maté

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A melancholy drama about two very lonely souls who meet one rainy day in New York City and soon find a kindred love between them, this is quite the tearjerker. But for those who often feel alone and long for companionship you will most certainly relate. Spiritual aspects are also quite moving and poignant as we see that what with true love miracles can indeed happen.

4:30 am EST, 1:30 am PST
Invitation
Also Starring: Dorothy McGuire, Ruth Roman, Louis Calhern
Directed by Gottfried Reinhardt

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Melodramatic but romantic and hopeful ultimately, this film is about a happily married couple whose peaceful existence is threatened when the wife learns a devastating secret about her husband. Ellen had been ill and lonely all of her life, but when her lifelong friend suddenly shows her love and an offer marriage, she finds happiness she never thought possible. I won’t spoil any more, but regardless to say it may be dramatic but it’s also real in its emotions and restores your faith in people and that love can make you stronger.

If Turner Classic Movies is not available to you, all of these films are also available on DVD for your viewing enjoyment.

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