Everyone has had one of those fleeting, exciting summer romances at some point in their lives. Okay, I don’t. The closest I came to a summer romance was in 1973. I had a crush on Margaret Glatt in second grade because she had these really cool cat-eye glasses that were silver and blue and had spangly things across the top of the frames. Nothing came of it, of course, because I was a second grade doofus.
Cut to about ten years later. The summer before my senior year of high school and Margaret used to ride her bike past the schoolyard where my friends and I played baseball for hours on end. One day we were just lying on the grass speculating about how to hit blackbirds with bottle rockets when she pulled up on her bike and asked why we weren’t playing baseball. Margaret had traded in her cat-eye glasses for some smart, bookish black glasses. She was the picture of self-confidence.
“Hey,” she said to me. “You wanna go see a movie sometime?” I looked around to make sure she was talking to me, then agreed enthusiastically. She told me to call her and rode off on her bicycle. Lots of hooting ensued and I went home to look up her number in the local phone book (which was something you could do back then) and called her that night. She said she wanted to see Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972) at a drive-in.
Let’s see if I could come up with a better scenario for a date? Nope. Impossible. So there we were, sitting in a pale green 1967 Pontiac station wagon, watching that movie—which is the antithesis of sexy, by the way—and I finally decided to make a move and I put my arm around her. She flared back at me, moved my arm, and told me to cut it out. She wasn’t really interested in me. She just wanted to see the movie and couldn’t when it came out in theaters the year before, but had managed to convince her parents to let her go if I came with her. Because apparently, I had a reputation in the neighborhood as a safe boy to go out with. “Nothing’ll happen with that kid,” is what her dad told her when he agreed to let her have the car.
Sigh... Pretty deflating moment. Although we both liked the movie, especially the part where Gene Wilder falls in love with a sheep. And that was basically the entire summer romance I had with Margaret Glatt. Or anyone.
All of which makes summer romance movies so much more resonant for me—the thing I always wanted but didn’t have. Fortunately for all those romantics out there, a good batch of summer romance movies are available on DVD.com to provide you with all the summer romance you’ll ever want or need.
Instead of taking Margaret Glatt to see an unsexy Woody Allen sex comedy, I probably should have taken her to see this movie. This is the seminal summer romance movie. It’s a semi-autobiographical tale of a teenage boy who woos a lonely soldier’s wife one summer on Nantucket during World War II. It’s a doomed romance, of course. But those always make the best stories, anyway. Is this movie as fabulous as I thought it was back then? Uh, no. But is it still a wonderfully romantic movie? Absolutely! It was written by Herman Raucher and based on his life, and stars Jennifer O’Neill. I’ll tell you one thing: when I watched this movie again recently, she was still as beautiful as I remembered. I’m pretty sure also Margaret Glatt is still as cool as I remember her, even to this day. Which is a fundamental principle of any summer romance. Everyone remains as you remember them.
For Gen Xers, this is THE summer romance movie, much the way Summer of ‘42 is for Baby Boomers. Based on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s own childhood, it tells the melodramatic story of teenage romance and angst at a Catskills resort. It stars a luminous Jennifer Grey and a brooding Patrick Swayze. Plus, it has some of the sexiest ballroom dancing scenes ever. And, of course, this line: “No one puts Baby in a corner.” Every woman born after 1964 knows this movie, practically by heart. Be honest, how many years have you gone without forcing your husband/boyfriend/partner to watch this movie with you and it’s about time that you forced him to do it again. Am I right or am I right?
I worked on a terrible sitcom once (well, ok, several occasions), and the head writer used to have a saying whenever someone raised a logical question about a particular story or scene. “When skating on thin ice, our best strategy is to move quickly.” In other words, move quickly past the flaw in the story and get to the jokes. That certainly could apply to this chocolate truffle of a movie. The plot has so many holes in it, it would make poor netting for a shark fisherman. Who cares? It’s ABBA! Who cares if none of the male leads (particularly Pierce Brosnan) can sing? It’s ABBA! Who cares if critics hated this movie? It’s ABBA! Who doesn’t love ABBA? Jerks, that’s who. I love ABBA. I remember watching this movie with my three older daughters and whenever I pointed out a flaw in the movie they would loudly shush me. They were enchanted. This movie is stupid, poorly constructed, silly beyond words, and terribly acted and sung. Who cares? It’s ABBA. Relax and sing along.
I’m a big fan of Kristen Stewart, I don’t care what you say. To be fair, I completely ignored the Twilight movies and don’t blame her if they were terrible, as has been reported to me. I was won over with her performance in Panic Room (2002), and have enjoyed her performances ever since. She’s particularly strong in this story of summer romance among college students working at a cheesy amusement park in a small town in Pennsylvania. The best thing about this movie is the cast: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Reynolds, and the fabulous Wendie Malick. The best part of this movie is that the romance actually continues after summer ends. Director Greg Mottola wrote the script. It’s a funny, romantic, sharply written movie that has been overlooked by too many people. Your job? Correct that oversight and rent this movie!
This is a lovely and powerful story of two young men falling in love with each other almost against their wills during a languid summer together in Tuscany. Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, this movie perfectly encapsulates the ethos of a summer romance: an unlikely couple falls in love, spends their fleeting time together happily, but summer inevitably ends and so with it the love affair, leaving both lives unalterably changed. Sigh…
David Raether is a veteran TV writer and essayist. He worked for 12 years as a television sitcom writer/producer, including a 111-episode run on the ground-breaking ABC comedy “Roseanne.” His essays have been published by Salon.com, The Times of London, and Longforms.org, and have been lauded by The Atlantic Magazine and the BBC World Service. His memoir, Homeless: A Picaresque Memoir from Our Times, is awaiting publication.