Good Summer Movies from the 70s and 80s

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

These good summer movies from the ’70s and ’80s depict people enjoying time off from school, studying pre-calculus, and even engaging in racial violence. While individual release dates may have ranged all over the calendar year, each film features crucial plot points taking place during the summer season. So kick back, put on some sunscreen, and enjoy these latest recommendations from Only Good Movies.

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Grease (1978) – After meeting and falling in love during summer vacation, a mismatched pair of high school students (John Travolta and Olivia Newton John) try to continue their relationship. Filled with singing and dancing, this classic musical co-stars Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway. Hits from the film include “Grease” by Frankie Valli and “Summer Nights” by Travolta and Newton John.

Summer School (1987) – When gym teacher Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon) is forced to lead a remedial English class during summer school, all manner of comical hijinks occur. His classroom of misfits includes a pregnant teen (Shawnee Smith), a male stripper (Ken Olandt), and a pair of horror fans known as Chainsaw (Dean Cameron) and Dave (Gary Riley). To complicate matters, Shoop falls for the teacher next door, Ms. Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley). Unfortunately, she’s dating the jackass vice-principal who forced him to teach summer school in the first place.

Caddyshack (1980) – Considered by many as the greatest “sports” movie ever made, Caddyshack tells the story of a young caddy trying to raise enough money to go to college. As he jockeys for a scholarship, he rubs elbows with the club’s eccentric members, including rich oddball Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) and the local asshole, Judge Smails (Ted Knight). Meanwhile, a loudmouth real estate tycoon (Rodney Dangerfield) rubs everyone the wrong way with hilarious results, and Bill Murray plays a deranged groundskeeper obsessed with killing a pesky gopher. The only downside is the presence of Kenny Loggins and his damnable rock and roll.

Meatballs (1979) – Speaking of Bill Murray, he gets his first major role in this Ivan Reitman comedy about a less-than-impressive summer camp and those who attend it. Whatever you do, stay away from the sequel featuring an alien nicknamed Meathead.

One Crazy Summer (1986) – An aspiring art student (John Cusack) tries to write and illustrate a love story while enjoying summer vacation on the isle of Nantucket with his pals. Demi Moore pops up as a rock singer and potential love interest, while a pair of rabbits (who later get blown up) bear a strong resemblance to film critics Siskel and Ebert. My favorite moment comes when co-star Bobcat Goldthwait gets stuck in a Godzilla costume and goes on a rampage.

Do the Right Thing (1989) – Surprisingly, Spike Lee focuses on race relations instead of his usual obsession with butterflies. Taking place during a summer heatwave, a New York neighborhood filled with various ethnicities threatens to boil over after the tragic death of a resident. You’d better like the song “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, as you’ll be hearing it over and over. The impressive cast of this critically acclaimed film includes Lee, Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Summer Rental (1985) – Watching a fat man stumble around in the summer heat is funny enough, but imagine if he had to match wits against Richard Crenna in a boat race. Now that’s a recipe for comedy, right there. Starring John Candy and directed by Carl Reiner.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – Chevy Chase stars as Clark W. Griswold, a family patriarch who leads his clan across the nation on a trip to a California theme park. They encounter one hilarious obstacle after another, including dying relatives, vicious pets, and a sexy mystery woman (Christie Brinkley) in a red sports car. Also starring Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, and Anthony Michael Hall, this Harold Ramis-directed comedy would spawn four sequels of varying quality.

Stand and Deliver (1988) – Based on a true story, Stand and Deliver revolves around Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos), a devoted match teacher working at an East Los Angeles school. Convinced that his students are capable of more than they’re given credit for, he arranges to teach them pre-calculus over the summer. Co-starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Andy Garcia. Olmos is wonderful as the proud and somewhat eccentric Escalante.

Say Anything… (1989) – Following high school graduation, a kickboxing enthusiast (John Cusack) begins a summer romance with the class valedictorian (Ione Skye). Directed by Cameron Crowe, the romantic comedy is best remembered for the scene in which Cusack holds a boom box over his head to demonstrate his affection.

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If this list has got you in the mood for additional light-hearted films, why not click on the following OGM links:

This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 3:04 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Good Summer Movies from the 70s and 80s”

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May 17, 2010

Ballard Andy White

Summer School with Mark Harmon is possibly the best of all good summer movies. In fact, it probably deserved an Oscar. But no, and now, Mark Harmon is no longer a movie star at all. It’s very sad.

Love Summer Rental too. That’s another good summer movie.

Here are a couple more good summer movies that I really like:

Blue Hawaii
Beach Blanket Bingo
The Seven-Year Itch


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