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10 Best Beach-Themed Movies - Beaches, 1941 Skip to content

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Hit the Beach With These Movie Classics

Can’t make it to the shore? Check out our picks for the top films to take you there

  • Best Beach Movies, Beach Blanket Bingo
    Everett Collection

    Catch a Wave

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon classic Beach Blanket Bingo, we take a look at 10 other beach movies that have a lot more to offer than surfboards and bongos.

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  • Best Beach Movies, From Here to Eternity, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'From Here to Eternity' (1953)

    There are suds aplenty in this Hawaii-set drama about military and marital conflicts — but the waters really get churned up during Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr’s sand-tastic love scene on a remote beach.

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  • Best Beach Movies, Endless Summer, surfing
    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    'The Endless Summer' (1966)

    Bruce Brown’s visually stunning documentary follows two surfers who span the globe in search of the perfect wave. Changing forever the “beach-nik” stereotype, the film revealed surfing as a sport uniquely wedded to the beauty and power of nature.

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  • Best Beach Movies, Summer of '42
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Summer of ’42' (1971)

    Hermie (Gary Grimes) is a teen who’s determined to find romance during his family’s beach vacation. But his infatuation with an older woman (the tragically sweet Jennifer O’Neill) yields much more than a quick roll in the sand.

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  • Swept Away, Movies for Grownups
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Swept Away' (1974)

    An elitist socialite (Mariangela Melato) and a communist sailor (Giancarlo Giannini) find themselves shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island, where they argue, openly battle and fall (sort of) in love. Writer-director Lina Wertmuller desperately wants the film to be about class warfare, but her stars effectively hijack it, creating a classic battle of the sexes.

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  • A young caucasian couple enjoy a dinner outdoors with text that reads keep life fun and your calendar full.

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  • Best Beach Movies, 1941, John Belushi
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    '1941' (1979)

    In the days after Pearl Harbor, coastal Californians fret about a rumored enemy invasion. Comedy has never been Steven Spielberg’s strong suit, but any movie with John Belushi, Ned Beatty, Dan Aykroyd and John Candy is going to have its moments. And give Spielberg props for the first scene, a comic take on the opening of Jaws, in which a naked female swimmer finds herself sitting astride a Japanese sub.

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  • Best Beach Movies, Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Back to the Beach
    Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Back to the Beach' (1987)

    Two decades after their last ’60s beach movie, Annette and Frankie reunited for this nostalgic romp, playing their old characters all grown up and married — with a sand-and-surf-loving daughter. Musical highlight: Pee Wee Herman singing “Surfin’ Bird.”

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  • Best Beach Movies, Beaches, Bette Midler
    Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Beaches' (1988)

    Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey are lifelong pals whose friendship plays out on a variety of beaches, ranging from Atlantic City to Miami to California. If you’ve forgotten why the song “The Wind Beneath My Wings” always makes you cry, the last few scenes of Beaches will remind you.

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  • Best Beach Movies, Cast Away, Tom Hanks
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Cast Away' (2000)

    As the lone survivor of a FedEx cargo plane crash (not the best product placement strategy), Tom Hanks scrambles for food, learns to build a fire, pulls his own tooth and makes best buds with a volleyball named Wilson.

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  • Best Beach Movies, Nights in Rodanthe
    Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    'Nights in Rodanthe' (2008)

    Alone in an Outer Banks beach house, two beautiful strangers (Richard Gere and Diane Lane) try to reassemble their shattered lives in each other’s arms. It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, so you know that’s not sea spray you’re tasting — it’s your own tears.

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  • Best Beach Movies, The Descendants, George Clooney
    Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection

    'The Descendants' (2011)

    In this funny and sad Oscar winner, betrayed husband Matt (George Clooney) spends quite a bit of time on the beaches of Hawaii, mostly stalking the guy who had an affair with Matt’s now-comatose wife.

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  • Entertainment End-Slide
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