Summertime is the silly season; it gets too damn hot to do any rational thinking, and people who aren't flocking to the beach are flocking to air-conditioned movie houses to watch silly movies . . . which are, fairly often, set on the beach. If you're in the mood to rent some goofy beach movie, you won't have trouble finding one, although if you're not careful, you could rent something that sounds like a beach movie and come away from the experience profoundly traumatized. The following guide is intended to spare you from this grisly fate. If you see any of these movies on the shelves of your local video store, do not rent them expecting frothy summertime fare!
On the Beach
The residents of Australia discover that a nuclear attack has wiped out much of humanity and those remaining will be dead in a few months. Gregory Peck is even more jaw-clenchingly earnest than usual in Stanley Kramer's apocalyptic nightmare; just about as far from How to Stuff a Wild Bikini as it gets.
Girls Wrestling on the Beach
This is not softcore porn! Repeat: this is not softcore porn! It is instead an 1897 oddity, made in the days when cinema was such a novelty that people would film some guy sneezing and call it Man Sneezing. This movie does deliver exactly what it promises, but, if we have not made this clear enough, it is not softcore porn!
Summer of '42
This bittersweet drama follows a teenager who enters into a relationship with an older woman whose husband is away fighting World War II. The film offers some laughs and some heartache, and it's kind of romantic and sexy in a creepy way, but it is not frothy, and it is not softcore porn, either.
Woman on the Beach
This is a 1947 art picture by Jean Renoir, precisely the kind of thing you want to avoid during the silly season! A woman blinds her artist husband, then seduces men with the approval of her sadistic hubby. What would Dr. Phil make of these two?
Action on the Beach
A documentary look at the special effects that went into creating the D-Day sequences of the 1964 drama The Americanization of Emily. So, no girls losing their bikini tops while playing volleyball, then.
Female on the Beach
Joan Crawford stars in a campy 1955 thriller about an aging, waspish woman and the dangerous beachcomber she is irresistibly drawn to. Rent only if you are a camp hound and/or you're very, very gay.
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Making Love on the Beach
Remember what we said about Girls Wrestling on the Beach? Like that, but more so. I'm starting to think filmmakers of the 1890s sat around deliberately thinking up titles that would screw with the heads of later generations.
Summer and Smoke
Go in expecting some movie about surfing and pot, and you'll find a Tennessee Williams drama that . . . well, actually, if you're trolling the video stores looking for movies about surfing and pot, you could probably watch any of these movies and mistake it for Beach Blanket Bingo. So what the heck; enjoy, stoner losers! Enjoy!