The Daily Gamecock

Summer films that span the decades: Sunny favorites from all eras

Summer is the perfect time to sit down, relax and press play on your favorite film. Here are six warm weather films that span the decades from the 1960s to the 2010s and that are perfect for a summertime vacation movie night.

“The Graduate”

(1967, PG)

As infamous as it is classic, “The Graduate” follows the disillusioned Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) after he graduates from college and moves back to his parents’ home for the summer. Benjamin soons finds himself in hot water as he is seduced by his neighbor, an older woman, while he questions what to do next with his life. The film features cinematography by Robert Surtees that was cutting edge for its time and also includes fantastic performances by not only Hoffman, but also by Anne Bancroft and the rest of the cast. For college students or anyone else who is at a particularly transitional or angsty time in life, “The Graduate” is the perfect film with which to identify.


(1975, PG)

What would a summer film list be without this chilling classic? When “Jaws” first hit movie theaters in 1975, beach attendance dropped in reaction to the tale of a killer shark. Years later, the film’s murderous antagonist and sinister theme are still good for a scare. This film is as influential as it is classic, and is the quintessential summer adventure film. With the directing talent of Steven Spielberg and the acting talent of Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, “Jaws” is an exciting and action-packed drama that will bring a little ocean excitement to your TV screen this summer.

“Dirty Dancing”

(1987, PG-13)

“Dirty Dancing” is a film that is almost synonymous with summer and all that the season entails — the film tells the story of the forbidden romance between Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) that occurs at, of course, a summer resort. Although the movie suffers from a number of cliche one-liners, a rather unimaginative plot and a chemistry that lacks believability between Baby (Jennifer Grey) and her dance teacher Johnny (Patrick Swayze), the film boasts a fabulous mix of dance tunes from the 1960s through the 1980s, some of the best choreography ever seen onscreen and retro wardrobes that will make fashion-loving viewers swoon.

“Dazed and Confused”

(1993, R)

For a movie night that’s all about having fun and living like there’s no tomorrow, “Dazed and Confused” is the film to choose. Set in a hazy 1970s summer and following a cast of high school characters that are sure to make you laugh, “Dazed and Confused” tells the story of a group of rowdy Texan teenagers coming of age as school ends for the summer. The film includes many memorable moments and characterizations, perhaps most notably an unforgettable performance from a young, pre- "True Detective" Matthew McConaughey. “Dazed and Confused” combines high school humor, commentary on teenagers and high school relations and a late-night keg party when all the subcultures come together in the name of a good time to create a celebration of summer that is truly delightful.

“Almost Famous”

(2000, R)

“Almost Famous” is the coming-of-age tale of William, a budding music critic, as he travels the road with the fictional rock band Stillwater. The film, set in 1973, captures all the excitement of good music, performing, the groovy days of the 1970s and growing up. “Almost Famous” will make you laugh and cry with a perfectly balanced dialogue that alternates between humor and vulnerability. With excellent performances by Patrick Fugit and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, almost tangible chemistry between Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup, delicious 1970s costuming and a fantastic soundtrack, “Almost Famous” is a rock classic that is unforgettable and that fits the summertime mood like a glove.

“Moonrise Kingdom”

(2012, PG-13)

Directed by Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom” is the perfect film for sunny summer days. The film tells the story of Sam and Suzy, two children who fall in love and run away together into the idyllic Rhode Island summertime. As the viewers look on, Sam and Suzy fight menacing adults, island storms and other antagonists in order to stay together. With stirring performances by Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and the rest of the cast, heavenly scenery and setting, the wonderful style of Wes Anderson and all the charm of young romance, “Moonrise Kingdom” is a beautiful and emotional addition to any summer movie watch list.