Top 5 patriotic and summer movies of the 1980s

Tampa Bay Times
Top 5 patriotic and summer movies of the 1980s
By Steve Spears, Times Correspondent
Thursday, July 2, 2015 3:33pm


Sometime this Fourth of July holiday weekend, you’re going to need some down time. Picnics, beaches, fireworks – it’s just too much. So start planning ahead for couch time with suitable movies for the occasion. Here are our top 5 favorite movies for a patriotic holiday and top 5 favorite movies for the summer in general. Oh, and of course, they’re all from the ’80s.


1 RED DAWN (1984): Accept no remake! The ’84 original featured the late Patrick Swayze as the leader of a gang of school kids left to fight off an invasion by Russia and Cuba. It’s patriotism on steroids, especially the final line, which is read off a monument. “In the early days of World War 3, guerrillas – mostly children – placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives, so that this nation should not perish from the earth.”

2 GLORY (1989): This Civil War tale of African-American troops being led into battle in the Deep South might feel more emotional these days given our current political climate. Matthew Broderick sheds Ferris Bueller to portray Col. Robert Gould Shaw, who led the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Denzel Washington would win an Oscar for best supporting actor for Glory, which also featured a haunting score by the late James Horner.

3 THE RIGHT STUFF (1983): We interrupt this stream of war movies to bring you the epic tale of America’s Mercury astronauts. Based on a bestseller from Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff is part history lesson, part action flick, but 100 percent adrenaline.

4 IRON EAGLE (1986): Hear me out on this one. Louis Gossett Jr. as “Chappy Sinclair” – classic – leading a teenager in a jet to the Middle East to rescue his father? Campy at best. But add Queen’s One Vision and Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It to the soundtrack and you have Masterpiece Theatre for the ’80s.

5 ROCKY IV (1985): A Soviet boxer kills Apollo Creed! Rocky travels to snowy Russia and beats him wearing Apollo’s old “stars and stripes!” And James Brown sings Living in America! Ding, ding. This fight is over.


1 NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION (1983): Before the remake comes out later this month and taints your memories, reacquaint yourselves with the original Griswolds and the pure misery that defines any cross-country family caravan. “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun.”

2 SUMMER RENTAL (1985): Filmed right here in St. Pete Beach, Summer Rental is the softer version of Vacation, featuring the late John Candy as the kind-hearted dad who just needs some peace and quiet this summer. Hard to believe both Summer Rental and Cocoon, another movie in which St. Petersburg stars, both came out the same year.

3 SUMMER SCHOOL (1987): Before becoming a special agent on NCIS, Mark Harmon was a chuckleheaded gym teacher who gets blackmailed into teaching remedial English to a gang of misfits. This summer flick definitely gets a passing grade.

4 MEATBALLS (1979): Bill Murray’s turn as a summer camp counselor is still an all-time classic. This Canadian flick barely missed the ’80s, but “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!”

5 BEACHES (1988): Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey meet on the boardwalk and become lifelong BFFs, until something tragic happens (sniff, sniff) and Bette sings an anthem we all know by heart. Oh don’t start crying yet; the song hasn’t even started playing! (Too late, isn’t it?)

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