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Summer Movies, Had Me a Blast

People equate all sorts of thing with summer: the shore, water ice, first romances, cheesy novels, fireworks, swimming pools and baseball, to name a few.

But don’t forget about movies.

During a recent Jewish Exponent staff meeting, the conversation morphed into a discussion about movies — specifically ones that reminded us of summer. We all came up with some pretty good selections (or so we thought) and present them for your consideration. No doubt there’s plenty of room for debate.

Liz Spikol, editor-in-chief
“Dirty Dancing” (1987)

No other summer movie so evocatively conjures a particular moment in Ashkenazi American life — when the Catskills and the Borscht Belt were king; when summer vacations were taken as a family, before the heyday of sending kids to overnight camp; when dating a non-Jewish blond-haired, blue-eyed boy felt like a fabulously illicit adventure.

Based on summers at the famed Jewish resort Kellerman’s, “Dirty Dancing” tells the story of a Jewish girl called Baby (Jennifer Grey) who finds love with a hunky non-Jewish dance instructor (Patrick Swayze), but not before they’re both drawn into a web of drama regarding secret abortions and class conflict. These days the film is mostly remembered for the culminating dance scene in which Swayze lifts a gossamer Grey into the air, and for being as cheesy as ’80s films could get. But it’s also a window into a vanished summer world.

Andy Gotlieb, managing editor
“Grease” (1978)
“Grease” remains the word more than 40 years after its initial release — I first saw it at sleepaway camp during its original release the summer of 1978.

The film screams summer, complete with its sing-along songs, hefty doses of nostalgia and eye candy in the form of Olivia Newtown-John

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