GenreList VII: Heatwave

Red and Orange Sunrise over Chicago Skyline
Source: timmo, Flickr

This time, on GenreList: It might be mild in Chicago, but in Hollywood summer is always a searing season of drama, pressure and conflict. Join us as tensions build, the temperature rises and summer builds to an explosive conclusion!

Few films capture the heat and pressure of a summer day like Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Set during the hottest day of the year, Do the Right Thing uses tint, bright lighting and fraying tempers to create the sort of oppressively hot day that's sure to bring bad things. Lee uses the common experience of a cloying summer day as a metaphor for urban racial tension that builds to violence. A thoroughly intense film with an ending that looms over the entire production, Do the Right Thing is certain to make you sweat.

A courtroom drama might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a blazing summer day, but 12 Angry Men will have you feeling the heat as soon as the opening titles stop rolling. Featuring an unforgettable performance by Henry Fonda as the unflappable Juror #8, 12 Angry Men is a study in tension. Taking place almost entirely in a single room during a sweltering summer afternoon, 12 Angry Men uses confined space and a palpable sense of heat to amplify the drama of clashing personalities and ideologies. Within the claustrophobic confines of the deliberation room, a purely verbal war is waged over a life in peril -- a drama that succeeds by virtue of a passionate cast that sweats over the decision they have to make.

Know a summer-scorcher I missed? Share your favorites in the comments below!