August 8, 2003

Good summer movies - and more

Staff Writer

Here we are in August, the final month of a summer with more rainy days than sunny days and lots of indoor time looking us in the eye. It is a great time to catch up on movies.

You can hit the theaters, checking out the latest films - Seabiscuit, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lara Croft, The Terminator, Finding Nemo, JLo and Ben or even revisit 3-D with the Spy Kids.

But there are a lot of other great summer movies that you could rent or buy for viewing at home. We've taken the liberty to list some of the best for your convenience.

1-Jaws (1975)- This Steven Speilberg classic thriller set in a beach resort made swimming on the beach a challenge for a number of years. It stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw plus a shark that didn't always work. If you get the DVD, there is a great "behind the scenes" feature.
2-On Golden Pond (1981)- One of the greatest casts in movie history - Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda - spark this great generation gap story.
3-American Graffiti (1973)- George Lucas' story of the last night of summer includes Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams and even Harrison Ford facing changes in their lives, all set to a Wolfman Jack soundtrack.
4-Chariots of Fire (1981)- Academy Award winning film with strong performances by the entire cast. It's about English runners in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
5-Rear Window (1954)- Hitchcock's classic about wheelchair-bound photographer James Stewart figuring out a murder with help from girlfriend Grace Kelly and nurse Thelma Ritter. The killer is played by TV's Perry Mason, Raymond Burr.
6-Seven Year Itch (1955)- Marilyn Monroe in tight slacks and the famous scene where her skirt blows up while standing over a subway grate in a hot New York City summer. She is great but Tom Ewell, as her neighbor, is even greater.
7-Dirty Dancing (1987)- Jennifer Grey and her family spend summer in the Catskills and she discovers dancer Patrick Swayze. The song, "I've had the time of my life", won the Oscar and was the hottest song of the year.
8-Dog Day Afternoon (1975)- Al Pacino steals this one as a frustrated bank robber trapped in the sweltering heat of summer. Based on a true story.
9-Summer of '42 (1971)- The summer fantasies of three teenage boys at the beach center around beautiful Jennifer O'Neill.
10-O! Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)- George Clooney shows off his comedy skills as one of three escaped convicts in Depression-era Mississippi. Bluegrass soundtrack was a giant hit.
11-Marjorie Morningstar (1958)- Young Natalie Wood works in a summer theatre and falls for older Gene Kelly, the director.
12-Picnic (1955)- Drifter William Holden passes through town and steals the affections of beautiful Kim Novak. Great supporting cast.
13-Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)- You get Frankie and Annette, Linda Evans, Don Rickles and an all-to-brief vocal performance by the magnificent Donna Loren. Not to mention Buster Keaton spending most of the movie chasing after shapely Bobbi Shaw, a summer resident of Ocean City.
14-Eddie & The Cruisers (1983)- Not really set entirely during summers, this tells the story of the fictional band, including performances filmed at Tony Mart's in Somers Point. The stars are Tom Berenger, Michael Pare and Ellen Barkin.
15-Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)- Charlie, Snoopy and the gang spend the summer in the great outdoors.
16-Niagara (1952)- More Marilyn Monroe, this time in the movie that made her the biggest star in the land. Check it out and you'll see why. Also features Joseph Cotton and Jean Peters.
17-Shag: The Movie (1989)- Not to be confused with Shag The Dance. Phoebe Cates, Annabeth Gish, Bridget Fonda and Page Hannah spend part of their summer doing the dance in Myrtle Beach.
18-Endless Summer (1966)- If you like surfing, you'll like Bruce Brown's classic documentary. The narrative is a bit corny and dated, but still entertaining. Fabulous photography helps the film still hold up as the greatest surfing movie ever made.
19-A Summer Place (1959)- Teen idols Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee are in love and it complicates both of their families. The theme song was a No. 1 hit.
20-Summer Rental (1985)- If you like John Candy, you'll like this light comedy about a man on vacation with his family in Florida and the characters they run across. The late Richard Crenna plays his arrogant landlord.

If you are wondering why we didn't include a few baseball movies on the list, read on.

1-Bull Durham (1988)- The adventures of minor league players Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins, particularly concerning their relationships with Susan Sarandon.
2-The Natural (1984)- Robert Redford is an aging rookie who leads his team to the World Series. Also features Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger.
3-Field of Dreams (1989)- Costner, a year after Bull Durham, follows the instructions of a voice that tells him, "If you build it, they will come". So, he builds a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. Sure enough, they came.
4-61* (2001)- OK, its an HBO movie, not a theatrical release. But Billy Crystal's story about the 1961 home run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle is terrific.
5-A League Of Their Own (1992)- Tom Hanks is called in to manage the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls League. Among his players are Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell.
6-When It Was A Game (1991)- Fabulous documentary (another HBO effort) with never-before-seen home movies of the immortals from the sport's early years. Two sequels are also worth a watch.
7-Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)- Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty in the story of a catcher with Hodgkin's disease who wants to play one more season, and the teammate who helps him.
8-The Rookie (2002)- Dennis Quaid in the true-life story of a high school baseball coach who gives pro baseball one more try and makes it to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
9-Eight Men Out (1988)- The story of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, when Chicago players were accused of throwing the World Series. Stars John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney.
10-Fear Strikes Out (1957)- Anthony Perkins as Jim Piersall, a real major leaguer who suffered a nervous breakdown. Perkins is a bit awkward in the baseball scenes but he acts up a storm.
11-The Sandlot (1993)- It's about childhood friends, their sandlot games and the ferocious dog that lives over the leftfield fence.
12-The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars & Motor Kings (1976)- Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor are among the stars of this film about a traveling team of black players long before Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier. Good supporting cast.
13-The Pride Of The Yankees (1942)- Gary Cooper plays Lou Gehrig as he succeeds in baseball and then faces the disease that now bears his name. Babe Ruth plays himself in the film.
14-Major League (1989)- A comedy about the Cleveland Indians winning the pennant. It seemed silly at the time, but they actually did it twice in the mid-90s. Introduced the song "Wild Thing" to major league stadiums.
15-The Bad News Bears (1976)- Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal in a comedy about Little League baseball.

Finally, here are a few movies you could check out to remember the stars that have died over the past six months.
Hume Cronyn- Start with Shadow Of A Doubt in 1943, then Lifeboat, Gin Game, Cocoon and even Batteries Not Included.
Buddy Ebsen- He dances with Shirley Temple in 1936's Captain January and you'll also find him in Breakfast At Tiffany's and The Interns. But pick up a couple early episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies to see the Buddy Ebsen we all love and remember.
Katherine Hepburn- Start with Little Women from 1933, then it's The Philadelphia Story, Adam's Rib, The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, The Lion In Winter and On Golden Pond. In fact, you could make this your Hepburn Summer.
Bob Hope- He's with Bing Crosby in The Road To Singapore and six more "road" pictures. Also check out My Favorite Brunette, The Lemon Drop Kid, The Seven Little Foys and Bachelor in Paradise.
Gregory Peck- You'll love him in Twelve O'Clock High, Roman Holiday, The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, Cape Fear, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Omen.
Martha Scott- She was at her best in Our Town, Desperate Hours, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur.
Robert Stack- To Be Or Not To Be, Written On The Wind, Scarface Mob and Airplane! are some good films. But try to find a few episodes of TV's The Untouchables.
Lynne Thigpen- Check her out in Godspell, Lean On Me, The Paper, Tootsie and The Insider.

There you have it. A bunch of ideas for indoor entertainment during the last few weeks of summer. Lets hope you won't need too many of them.