TOP TEN FAVORITE SUMMER MOVIES
With the summer movie season now upon us, I thought I would take a look back at my favorite films released in the summer and some of the experiences that went along with them.
MY TOP TEN ALL TIME FAVORITE SUMMER MOVIES
10. BACK TO THE FUTURE- 1985. I saw this film in Staten Island, NY, in July of that summer and totally enjoyed every aspect of it. Michael J. Fox was born for the role of Marty McFly and the time travel storyline was as entertaining as it was thought provoking. The 80’s was still a decade where the moviegoer wasn’t pumped up by too much hype and films like this could still surprise as the story unfolded as you watched. Huey Lewis’s “The Power of Love” was a great song, adding to the experience.
9. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM- 1984. Rollercoaster rides don’t get any better than this second installment of the Indiana Jones movies. While some criticized it for being a little too dark, I loved everything about it. I still remember Kate Capshaw’s Willie Scott saying to Indiana Jones near the film’s last act “Lets get out of here” and Harrison Ford’s Jones reply, “Ya, all of us” as he goes back to save the enslaved children. That was a classic moment and what heroes are all about. A really thrilling film that I went back to see three more times.
8. E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL- 1982. Nowadays some might think its pace is a little too slow, but not me. This is a beautifully realized story about love and friendship that is timeless. E.T.’s resurrection scene both back then and now is incredibly moving. When it was over I couldn’t wait to see it again. I’m still not sure if the film is regarded as a classic in all circles but for me it clearly is.
7. STAR WARS- 1977. I remember walking 15 blocks from my house to the Avalon Theater in Brooklyn NY with my friend Neil on a hot summer day in July once the film went into a wide release (it officially opened in May). While I was very young I remember how much pure imagination the film contained. How could one not love R2D2. At the time, clearly groundbreaking stuff.
6. BATMAN- 1989 and THE DARK KNIGHT- 2008. Truly a tale of two Jokers. Tim Burton’s 1989 film will always hold a spot in my heart as I couldn’t wait for that film to be released. In a time pre-internet, I remember waking up early on that Friday morning in June and running to the newsstand to pick up the NY Daily News and The NY Post to read the reviews. The Post (David Edelstein) gave it four stars while the Daily News (Kathleen Carroll) gave it three and a half out of four. Despite its flaws I found it to be fascinating in many respects and wound up seeing it numerous times. Jack’s Joker dancing through the museum was the highlight for me – I love that scene. As for The Dark Knight, it truly was the definitive Batman film and I was totally blown away by Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. The film’s first two hours are as compelling as any summer movie ever unleashed.
5. DIE HARD- 1988. The greatest pure R-rated action film ever produced. I didn’t really know what to expect when I walked into the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, NY, on the film’s opening day as the only thing I knew about Bruce Willis was his starring role on the ABC hit TV show, Moonlighting. Boy, was I blown away. Very few times when I watch a film on a first viewing, do know I’m seeing an instant classic but, in this case, I knew it right away. I went back for five straight weekends where audiences continued to eat it up. A truly great audience participation film.
4. GREMLINS-1984. While he didn’t do much film work afterwards (Gremlins 2, Waxwork), Zach Galligan made the perfect everyman – Billy Peltzer whose life takes a crazy turn when his father brings home a new pet named Gizmo. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, Gremlins is one of the most inventive summer movies every produced. Dante was Tim Burton before Tim Burton. I love this film and saw it numerous times during that great summer movie season of 1984.
3. JAWS- 1975. This was one of the last films that I remember my parents taking me to see. In an era of pre-internet and little overall hype I remember seeing the rave reviews on the local stations (Pia Linstrom on channel 4 in NY comes to mind) the day it opened. Considering a wide release in those days was 400 theaters around the country, people were lining up around the block for weeks on end in order to see it. One could argue that it is Spielberg’s best and one of the greatest character driven blockbusters ever made. Brody, Hooper and Quint are as good as it gets. Brody’s (Roy Schneider) showdown with the shark at the end is one of the greatest climaxes in movie history. Yes, people were really scared to go to the beach that summer. It’s really a perfect movie and it coined the word blockbuster, being the first summer film to gross over $100 million dollars at the box-office.
2. INDEPENDENCE DAY- 1996. Another film I saw at the Ziegfeld Theater in NYC and the energy of the audience was nothing short of electrifying. This is a great popcorn film with an outstanding cast (Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum) and a totally entertaining ride. I remember the audience roaring with applause when the dog jumps from the car roof into the waiting arms of Vivica A. Fox‘s character and her young boy after the stories first act. Then the screen went black. A super fun event movie. Believe me there is nothing like a NYC audience. They were so into the movie that it sticks in my mind as a truly unique experience.
1. JURASSIC PARK- 1993. To this day my favorite movie-going experience as the adrenaline rush of seeing it at the famed Ziegfield Theater in NYC with my friend Mike and 1200 other people was an amazing experience. When the first dinosaur appeared on screen I couldn’t believe how real it looked. The film was extremely exciting with a great John Williams score. We stayed in the city and went back that night too see it again – an experience I’ll never forget.
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