Perhaps you have seen some of these films before; perhaps you haven’t. Many there are some on this list that you don’t agree with you; others that you think should be on this list. (Although Star Wars opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 1977, it is still technically a “summer movie”). There are some classics here and there are some that might you have scratching your head wondering why I would include them on this list. Regardless of whether they are classic or not, there are a lot of cinematic gems here.
I started going to a lot of movies in 1975, probably because I had a car and a job at the time. Living in the Illinois Valley, we had a lot of movie theaters to choose from: in LaSalle there were the Majestic, the LaSalle, the Illinois Valley Twin Cinema (originally the Jerry Lewis Cinema) which showed adult films on one of its screens, and the Drive-in east of town. Peru, Mendota, Princeton, and Ottawa had movie theaters as well as the drive-in theatre in Earlville (which is still open today).
I went to a lot of movies in the summer of ’75. Jaws was the big movie of the summer, but other movies like Aloha Bobby and Rose and White Line Fever (both of which I saw at the LaSalle Drive-in) were summer favorites.
It was also the summer I started making plans to go into the Air Force after I graduated.
I have seen most of the movies on the list; many I have seen several times. How about you? How many of these films have you seen?
Fifty "Must See" Classic Summer Movies
Here are some "must see" classic summer movies of the 1970s. Some where blockbusters; some were not. How many of these have you seen?
Directed by Steven Spielberg. With Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary. When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
Directed by Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones. With Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam. King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles.
Directed by George Lucas. With Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith. A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.
Directed by George Lucas. With Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness. Luke Skywalker, a spirited farm boy, joins rebel forces to save Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader, and the galaxy from the Empire's planet-destroying Death Star.
Directed by Richard Attenborough. With Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier. A historic telling of the failed attempt to capture several bridges to Germany in World War II in a campaign called Operation Market-Garden.
Directed by John Landis. With Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, John Belushi, Karen Allen. At a 1962 College, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him.
Directed by Roman Polanski. With Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez. A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water.
Directed by Norman Jewison. With James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck. In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.
Directed by Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney. A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.
Directed by Hal Needham. With Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry. The Bandit is hired on to run a tractor trailer full of beer over county lines in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. With Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton. The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan. With Jan-Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones.
Directed by Robert Moore. With Eileen Brennan, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers. Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.
Directed by Richard Donner. With Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Stephens. An American ambassador learns to his horror that his son is actually the literal Antichrist.
Directed by William Friedkin. With Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou. A group of outcasts from different backgrounds/nationalities are forced by misfortune to work in a remote oil drilling operation in South America.
Directed by Hal Needham. With Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent, Sally Field, Brian Keith. Aging stuntman Sonney Hooper is still on top as one of the best stuntmen in the business. But up and coming Ski is starting to do bigger and better stunts.
Directed by Robert Clouse. With Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri. A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover.
Directed by Ted Post. With James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison. The sole survivor of an interplanetary rescue mission searches for the only survivor of the previous expedition. He discovers a planet ruled by apes and an underground city run by telekinetic humans.
Directed by Woody Allen. With Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Georges Adet, Frank Adu. In czarist Russia, a neurotic soldier and his distant cousin formulate a plot to assassinate Napoleon.
Directed by John Badham. With Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, Rico Dawson. Tired of the slave-like treatment of his team's owner, charismatic star Negro League pitcher Bingo Long takes to the road with his band of barnstormers through the small towns of the Midwest in the 1930's.
Abner Procane, top L.A. burglar, finds that somebody stole his plans for next ambitious heist. He hires Raymond St. Ives, crime books writer, to negotiate the return of those documents. Written by Dragan Antulov Taglines: He's clean. He's mean. He's the go-between. Release Date: 31 July 1976 (Japan) Also Known As: St.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert. With Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel. James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads with the help of a KGB agent whose lover he killed.
Directed by Steve Rash. With Gary Busey, Don Stroud, Charles Martin Smith, Conrad Janis. A film about the life and career of the early rock and roll star.
Directed by Warren Beatty, Buck Henry. With Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Jack Warden. A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an over-anxious angel before he was supposed to die, comes back to life in the body of a recently-murdered millionaire.
Directed by Colin Higgins. With Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Burgess Meredith, Rachel Roberts. A shy San Francisco librarian and a bumbling cop fall in love as they solve a crime involving albinos, dwarves, and the Catholic Church.