Sunday, July 25, 2021

Book Review: Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics

This is an especially good summer reading season for classic film fans!

There are several new film books I'm reviewing this summer, and first up is SUMMER MOVIES: 30 SUN-DRENCHED CLASSICS by John Malahy.

Malahy works at Turner Classic Movies, which published this book along with Running Press. It also has a foreword by Leonard Maltin.

SUMMER MOVIES is a beautifully designed book, starting with the colorful "eye candy" cover and the "wave" design inside the covers. There are wonderful photos on most of the pages, many of which I'd never seen before, and it's also an interesting read.

As advertised, the book focuses on 30 films in particular, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it offers quite a bit more than that, connecting the 30 main films to additional "deeper cuts," titles which go beyond the basics.

The book immediately won me over with its first title, the wonderful silent film LONESOME (1928). (Seen here: stars Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon.) It's a movie which completely enchanted me on first discovery, and I'd love more people to discover it.

Other titles I especially enjoyed seeing included were MOON OVER MIAMI (1941), STATE FAIR (1945), and SUMMER STOCK (1950).

Additional films discussed in the book include REAR WINDOW (1954), SUMMERTIME (1955), PICNIC (1955), THE MUSIC MAN (1962), and JAWS (1975).

I liked that the author thought beyond typical "beach" movies, though titles like GIDGET (1959) and BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1965) are definitely included; the titles encompass films set at state fairs, summer camps, and vacation resorts as well as during during heat waves and summer vacation travels.

SUMMER MOVIES strikes a good balance between appealing to newer and established film fans. The photos and descriptions will provide those who haven't seen many of the films with a great list for future viewing, while more experienced movie viewers will enjoy the author's appreciation for favorites along with exploring his "deeper dives."

I especially liked Malahy's "Make It a Double Feature" recommendations, adding short write-ups on additional films which offer a similar vibe to his main topics.

Examples of double feature recommendations include the Andy Hardy film YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE (1938) being paired with another Mickey Rooney film, Rouben Mamoulian's SUMMER HOLIDAY (1948); Disney's Hayley Mills film THE PARENT TRAP (1961) is paired with Deanna Durbin's THREE SMART GIRLS (1936); DIRTY DANCING (1987) leads to Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (1938); and THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955) is matched with the relatively obscure but fun OUT OF THE BLUE (1947).

Intriguingly, the MGM musical SUMMER STOCK (1950) leads to a recommendation of a movie by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu which I haven't yet seen, FLOATING WEEDS (1959). The author's more "adventurous" double feature recommendations such as that one really appealed to me as a classic film fan, and FLOATING WEEDS immediately went on my "watch soon" list.

All in all, there's a pleasing amount of depth to this "summer read," which also has the glossy photos and interesting factoids which have become a hallmark of the film genre overview books published by TCM and Running Press. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.

SUMMER MOVIES is a relatively small hardcover book; for those familiar with Jeremy Arnold's book CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES from the same publisher, it's about the same size and weight. Also like the aforementioned Christmas book, SUMMER MOVIES features beautiful photographs printed on heavy paper. It's 200 pages including a bibliography and index.

Thanks to TCM and Running Press for providing a review copy of this book.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I agree with you Laura. I was absolutely delighted to see Lonesome as the first film featured in the book. I enjoyed your review and agree with you that it strikes a nice balance with design and information and is good for both established film fans and folks who are newer to these films.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for checking out my review, Raquel! I love that we share such a love for LONESOME -- I hope that the book will inspire more people to see it.

And thank you for all your work hosting the wonderful Summer Reading Challenge!!

Best wishes,

10:20 AM  

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