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Favorite summer movies

They take a lot of guff from snobby cinephiles and other people over the age of 12, but deep down everyone loves a good summer movie. So while we’re busy trashing “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” here’s a list of five of our favorites.

Summer of ’42 (1971)

  • Long ago, in the days before “Star Wars” and “Jaws” (both disqualified because they appeared in previous polls), summer movies targeted adult audiences. But adults weren’t the only ones who attended. “This was the first R-rated movie I saw,” writes reader Jo Bogart about this teary teen initiation drama. “We were underage and snuck in. It was the first time I saw sensuality on screen.”

ILM/Universal Studios

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

  • It seems like only yesterday that you couldn’t pass a store window without some “E.T.” merchandising staring at you with irresistible, blue, poached-egg eyes. Steven Spielberg’s tale of the title alien hidden by kids from cold-hearted adults delighted children of all ages even as it spun a bizarre, messianic fantasy.

RoboCop (1987)

  • While the recent remake demonstrated everything an action movie should not do (which may be why it was released in February and not in the summer), Paul Verhoeven’s original film about a cyborg cop caught up in the corporate corruption of a future, dystopic Detroit (i.e., Detroit today) is hilarious, thrilling, and ingeniously subversive.

Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)

  • Some summer movies are great not so much for their content, but for their context. Journalist Daniel Brockman has fond memories of this early entry in the Jim Varney oeuvre, “Me and a friend in middle school saw ‘Ernest Goes to Camp’ in a suburban Syracuse theater at a weekday screening. We were the only ones in the theater and we could yell at the screen all we wanted — that ruled.”

Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures

The Avengers (2012)

  • One way to guarantee a superhero summer hit is to combine all the superhero movies that hit pay dirt in the past into one giant extravaganza. Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America and such characters in search of a franchise as the Black Widow and Hawkeye team up to battle Norse god of mischief Loki. Sounds like a mismatch, but wait until the Chitauri pay a visit to New York City through the wormhole!


  • So much for summer movies. How about movies about summer? In honor of the solstice on June 21, tell us your favorites. And looking ahead: With a documentary about him opening on June 27 and a feature shooting in Boston, Whitey Bulger is the hottest gangster on the screen. What other movie mobsters could whack him? Cast your votes at

Peter Keough can be reached at
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