Tales From A Hungry Life

July 10, 2013

11 Cool Summer Movies

By Maria Schulz

Air. Blessed Air.

Air. Blessed Air.

It’s been so hot in my small corner of the world for the last couple of weeks that many of us around here have been spending a lot of time indoors. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to run from your car to your house, or into the department stores, or to my favorite place to of all cool off: the movies.

Growing up, there was no central air conditioning of any kind in the main part of our house. I was by far the luckiest inhabitant, because the family that lived there before us left the window unit behind in my room, and it only fit in that window.

My brothers spent many nights draped across the floor of my bedroom, trying to get in on the cold air and comfort. Otherwise, they had to sleep upstairs in the attic, where you were as likely to get a good night’s sleep as you were if you decided to go sleep in the oven.

Unfortunately, my father had adopted a strict “No Air Conditioner” policy during the day, and at night, the temperature could not fall below 80 degrees. I can remember sitting with my brothers at 9 pm, thermometer in hand, praying it would not fall below 81 (80 left too much room for error, ie: “that says 79! No A/C!”).

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

Humidity was never factored in, so even if it was 78 degrees and 80% humidity, you were assured a long night of tossing, turning, and having heat-induced daydreams about snowball fights in July.

My desire to avoid the heat and go somewhere as cold as Antarctica led me to the local movie houses. Yes, it sometimes took 2 connecting bus rides squished against other sweaty, smelly Queens natives, but by the time I arrived, it was all worth it.

Good, bad, or indifferent, the movies were a fun, two or more hour diversion (sometimes we’d see the double or triple feature) in a blissfully cold theater. I really had to restrain myself if I overheard an old lady saying something heretical to the manager like: “Can you turn down the Air Conditioning?”


Some of my favorite movies from way back long ago are still good to rent now, especially when it feels like you could fry an egg on your forehead. Watch them with a cold drink in your hand and the A/C vents blowing in your direction.

I know no one asked, but I thought I’d give you a list of some classics and some off-beat movies that I really enjoyed. Here are some that always give me a thrill, a rush, some romance, or just some laughs.

The. Best. Summer. Movie. Ever.

The. Best. Summer. Movie. Ever.


I wrote about this in my blog post, Summer Movies, a couple of years ago. The theme music still gets my heart pounding 35 years later, and I am not above singing DA DUM DA DUM DA DUM dum dum dum dum dum as I approach my husband while he lounges on the raft in our pool. He instantly knows that I intend to topple the raft, just like that poor kid Alex…oh never mind. Just watch this one. It’s the perfect movie to watch with your kids on a hot summer day, especially if you need to give them a reason to avoid the beach.

the muppet movie

THE MUPPET MOVIE (the original…from 1979)

Oh Kermie! Why ARE there so many songs about rainbows? And what’s on the other side? Corny jokes that still make me laugh, star cameos, rousing songs and the Muppets (including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal) make this one a fun time, even if you’re not 12 anymore.


Well, as long as you’re stuck inside, you might as well rent all three. Yes, I know they are now labeled something else entirely (Episodes IV, V, & VI) because they’ve released some movies since, but these are the three that bring me right back to those days hanging out at the movies.

I can remember sitting in a packed theater all three times, with the A/C blasting and the music blaring. I saw Star Wars in the Fresh Meadows Theater (before it was a twin theater), The Empire Strikes Back at the RKO Keiths and The Return of the Jedi at the Bayside Twin.

Still great.

Still great.

To this day, I wrap a kerchief around my head and say things like “Help me Obi Wan. You’re my only hope!” And “Luke! Luke!” My children had no idea what I was doing until I watched these movies with them, and then they said, “these special effects are boring.” Which I guess they are, compared to what my kids see in movies today. But back then…WOW!

Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3P0, R2D2, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jabba The Hut, Ewoks, Lando Calrissian and more Intergalactic weirdos came together to make this trilogy a winner. I even remember doing the Ewok dance whenever the hit theme song came on back in 1983. Sad, but true.


Chris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Joan Cusack, Ruth Gordon and Martin Mull star in this movie that still appeals to the little kid in me.

Bully, meet my enormous bodyguard

Bully, meet my enormous bodyguard

It came out the Summer before I started High School and had a storyline I could really identify with: Clifford Peache is about to start a new school; there’s a bully who is making everyone’s life miserable and is only too happy to make Clifford’s life miserable too; and there’s a big, strange kid in Clifford’s class who terrifies everyone.

Of course, along the way, Clifford learns a thing or two about the kid who everyone thinks is a ruthless killer, after he hires him to be his bodyguard.

It’s kind of funny to see a very young Matt Dillon and Joan Cusack in this movie. Of course, Ruth Gordon was wonderful as Clifford’s grandmother.

Rent it and watch it with your kids so they can see how bullies acted… and how the bullied coped with it.


Everyone needs a little romance

Everyone needs a little romance

A young French boy (Thelonius Bernard) meets a young American girl (Diane Lane) living in Paris for the Summer. They meet, fall in love, and befriend a retired pickpocket who can really tell a story (Sir Lawrence Olivier). The elderly man encourages their romance and never belittles the intensity of their feelings, even though they are just teenagers.

This was a sweet, charming movie that featured two very smart kids who were bright but never annoying or precocious. Their “little romance” was filled with adventure and gave hope to little old me that yes, even geeks could meet and fall in love.

Charming & Sweet. Academy-Award Winning Musical Score

Charming & Sweet. Academy-Award Winning Musical Score

Diane Lane made her screen debut in this film. She so impressed Olivier that he told a journalist that one day, Lane would be “the next Grace Kelly.”

Watch this one for beautiful acting, gorgeous settings, and a story of hope and love that will leave you smiling.


Chevy Chase stars in this last film directed by George Roy Hill (who also directed The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and yes, A Little Romance). It’s not one of the best movies you will ever see, but it did make me laugh and is one of my favorite comedies.

So funny

So funny

When Andy Farmer and his wife, Elizabeth, leave the hustle and bustle of the city for the peace and tranquility of the country, they get a lot more than just a beautiful home in a pastoral setting. In fact, they soon discover that:

  • Their neighbors are as congenial as they are congenitally insane.
  • Their mailman drives 100+ miles an hour every single day, and throws their mail out his car window.
  • The Chief of Police doesn’t know how to drive at all, and although he keeps trying, he always crashes the car he’s driving or almost runs people over. He is no help whatsoever, and whenever Andy and Elizabeth have a problem and give him a call, he just laughs at them…and resolves nothing.

Andy left behind a great job as a sportswriter to work on his novel, and his writing habits are particularly amusing to me. Instead of being more productive in his quiet new home, he finds himself constantly distracted by the crazy locals, the wildlife, his wife, his dog, and his hilarious attempts to fit in.

This is a good movie to curl up on the couch and watch when you just need a laugh.


My husband and I saw this one summer night when we actually had a babysitter. It was fun to be out amongst the living again. But the best part of all was that this movie was absolutely hysterical. We laughed so hard with the rest of the audience and had the happiest of date nights.

Great for date night

Great for date night

From the flashback to Prom Night to the wacky, orange neighbor named Magda, to Matt Dillon’s extremely un-PC take on Mary’s role in her disabled brother’s life, this movie from the Farrelly brothers still manages to crack me up.




Remember when Mel Gibson was popular? This is one of those very long action movies that didn’t sag in the middle for me. Yes, of course it’s historically inaccurate. So what? Look at Mel Gibson!!! There’s romance, heartbreak, outrage, rebellion, more romance, more heartbreak, more rebellion, tons of action scenes…what’s not to love?

Patrick McGoohan, the actor who plays King Edward I (Longshanks) is fantastic in this movie, and he pretty much steals every scene he’s in.

Now that's a King

Now that’s a King

There are enough surprises and action to keep an action movie lover happy, but not so much that a baby like me gets totally freaked out. That’s right: I hate blood and guts and have been known to pass out during movies that displayed broken bones (The Fly) or feet that have been shot (Dances With Wolves).

When I saw this movie in the theaters, I had to go to the lobby for about 20 minutes so I could miss some of the more graphic scenes. But I’ve since watched the entire movie, I think a really hot day would be the perfect time to watch it again.

I may fast forward through some parts though, if I’m feeling woozy.


You didn’t really think I was going to get through this list without mentioning James Garner, now did you?

How can you not admire Hendley, The Scrounger? The prisoners planning a break out need a camera to make phony IDs…he gets them one. They need to see real documents so they can make fake ones and travel through Nazi Germany…and he gets his hands on them. The Forger (Donald Pleasance) is losing his sight and might not be allowed to break out…so Hendley promises to help him escape.

Great movie

Great movie

Sure, some people like The Cooler King (Steve McQueen), The Tunnel King (Charles Bronson) or Bartlett (Richard Attenborough), and I do too. But nobody puts The Scrounger in the corner! Oh wait, sorry….wrong movie. (Dirty Dancing is also a great one to rent, for very different reasons).

I used to watch this one on Channel 7’s 4:30 movie. You really had to be dedicated to this movie, since between all the commercials and the 1 ½ hour time slot, you had to watch it over the course of a couple of days.

Yes, I own it on Blu Ray and I’ve seen it at least a million times. I always hope that this time, things will be different.

Rent it, buy it, or search for it on American Movie Classics. You won’t be sorry!


Healthy & Delicious

Healthy & Delicious

Now that we’re watching movies, we’ll need popcorn. Here are 6 Creative Popcorn Recipes for you to choose from:


So Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite Summer movie? What movie would you recommend? Why? Leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. Hi Maria, we only had an air conditioner in the den and one in my parents bedroom. My mother always used to yell if someone left the den door all the way open. We had to leave it open a little bit just in case the phone rang. If not she would yell,”didn’t you girls hear the phone ring! I was standing outside Waldbaums in this heat calling over and over again!” Oops this is not about mothers yelling, maybe next Wednesday. I remember one hot night sleeping over my cousins and being told that baby powder cools you off when you are trying to sleep. By the way, it doesn’t. It just takes forever to come out of your hair.
    Okay an Officer and a Gentleman was my favorite back then and of course Grease. Saw them both about 11 times. I think I just always wanted to be thin enough for a sailor to carry me and wouldn’t it be great to wear spandex pants while he was doing it.

    But the top of my list will always be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Can’t wait for next Wednesday!

    Comment by Suzanne Tavel — July 10, 2013 @ 9:52 am | Reply

    • I also loved Grease and An Officer & A Gentleman. However, I never considered a world where someone could lift me like that (and I certainly wouldn’t be in Spandex).

      Suzanne, I hate to admit this, bit I’ve never seen Seven Brides For Seven Brothers! Can I come over and watch it?

      I think your Mom and my Dad would’ve understood each other. My Dad yelled a lot when no one answered the phone…but I will save that story for another Wednesday!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 10, 2013 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  2. The Terminator was the best. It had adventure, actions, a hot girl – Linda Hamilton,(although if you see her now you’d question my comment), humanoid robots, a love story, and the fate of the world in the balance. It is one of the few movies I can sit through to the end over and over again. I remember coming out of the movie theatre at night and leaving the cool feel of the AC to the humid, hot darkness that would end at going home to that attic you mentioned in the blog. Thank the lord for central air conditioning!!!

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — July 10, 2013 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  3. First of all let me say that AC just wasn’t even a consideration for me when I was your age or your brothers’. When I was a kid we didn’t even have fans and we only bathed once a week, scrub washed when our mothers’ made us. And we couldn’t afford Movies at the drop of a hat after all they cost around 25 cents to maybe a half or one dollar for grown-ups. Things were expensive in those days so we sat on the steps of our stoops, sipped sodas, maybe had an ice cream soda home made with vanilla or chocolate ice cream and cream soda. Does anyone sit on stoops now-a-days. Loved the blog. Loved “Mary”, Jaws, but who is this Garner guy that keeps cropping up in your blogs? If I was your husband I’d be…. well I’d be!. .

    Comment by Bglou — July 10, 2013 @ 11:21 am | Reply

    • If you were my husband…well that would be illegal and super weird. My husband is not the least bit concerned about that “Garner guy.” So if James Garner calls, tell him I’m taken!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 10, 2013 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  4. You’re right on by saying Jaws is the best Summer Movie ever. And you forgot to mention it’s the 50th Anniversary of The Great Escape this year! (was released July 4, 1963). Of course, I have to finish (meaning start) my blog post about the Blu-ray, but well all in due time I guess….Another great post, missy!

    Comment by turafish — July 11, 2013 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  5. Summertime was about piling into the back of the family car and going to the local Drive-In in pajamas, with my sister, my pillow, and when I was older to hang out with friends outside the snackbar on the patio. The ritual of going to the Drive-In was way more important and fun than watching the movie itself. Movies to consider for a summer afternoon, or if you’re lucky enough to find a Drive-In, for a summer night: Summer of 42; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! any original James Bond movie, ET, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Bye, A Walk On The Moon; and Bye, Bye Birdie.

    Comment by Emmi — July 11, 2013 @ 1:02 am | Reply

    • Oh the drive-in…are there any around here anymore? The last movie I saw in a drive-in movie theater was Ishtar…definitely not one to rent! Your movie suggestions are great! I loved, loved, loved ET and wrote about it in my other post, Summer Movies. I LOVED It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and will definitely watch that one again, as well as A Walk on the Moon. I never saw Summer of ’42–but I will check it out. Thanks for commenting and always reading!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — July 14, 2013 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  6. Dirty Dancing!! My favorite cool summer movie! Also, I think you have an entire article on the 4:30 movie — between that and The World At War series I learned all I ever needed to know about bad boys and bad guys. And again, you had an air conditioner, what a life!! My brother and I had to share The Fan between our two rooms – we’d push the heat from his side of the attic to mine (or vice a versa!).

    Comment by Caroline Bock — July 15, 2013 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

  7. I know this post is two months late, but I’m trying to catch up…

    Air conditioning? Nothing but fan! I remember them as if it was yesterday… The retro blue GE with the steel wires and blades. The three button speed with the super cool blue acrylic blades. And the 20 inch cyclone. We had them em all growing up I think.

    As to Summer movies, Jaws will always be my favorite. It was the first movie I saw thanks to Tommy(who I looked up to as an older brother) who lived across the street and convinced my Mom to let me see it with him. My friend Pat was supposed to come along too (he convinced his Mom too), but Pat’s Mom saw a review on the 10pm news the night before and changed her mind the following day. Something about not being appropriate for children. Good thing Mom didn’t watch the 10pm news.

    A week or two prior, Danielle who lived a few houses down, was the first to see it on our block. I remember how we sat on the curb listening to her every word–especially the Ben’s Gardner’s boat scene. Yeah, that scene especially stuck in my mind. It would be years later that I actually saw that scene in the comfort of my own home on TV. As I sat in the theater and realized the moment was approaching, I closed my eyes tight as everyone screamed!

    I like to add a few Summer favorites… Weekend at Bernies and Porky’s (technically not a summer release, but close enough I think)

    Comment by George Palaszewski — August 12, 2013 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

    • George, you were luckier than me — the first time Jaws was released, I had to sit in the back of our station wagon and watch my brothers go off to the Quartet to enjoy the show without ME. I saw it when it was re-released later in the 70s and yes, I’m still afraid of the water!!! Thanks so much for commenting–it was great to hear from you.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — August 14, 2013 @ 6:23 am | Reply

  8. […] 11 Cool Summer Movies […]

    Pingback by Let’s Eat, Part V | Tales From A Hungry Life — April 9, 2014 @ 7:02 am | Reply

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