Our critics get out their buckets and spades and dig out their favourites In pictures: Waves of passion 50 Becket Two men meet on a blustery beach.
It's not so much a scene as a moment, a piece of history. Lots of smouldering, and Bamburgh Sands' finest screen moment. Wish you were here? Forget the gale and the medieval politics, this white sand makes you want to wrap up and enjoy a brisk walk.
SC 49 The Seventh Seal It's often a good idea to take games with you on a long journey, and luckily Max von Sydow's medieval knight has his travel chess with him as he returns from the Crusades only to run into Death Bengt Ekerot on a rocky Scandinavian shore. Thinking quickly, he challenges the Grim Reaper to a match on the understanding that if he wins, he lives.
No sand, no prom, no pier, no ice cream, no kiss-me-quick hats? An entomologist misses a bus after a trip collecting insects and is forced to lodge with a widow whose cottage lies at the bottom of a sandpit. Local villagers force him to stay there in order to extract water.
He begins a dark, erotic relationship with the widow. No film has ever made sand so scary or so sexy. SS 47 And God Created Woman Red-blooded male viewers of Roger Vadim's borderline exploitation film, featuring his year-old wife Brigitte Bardot, must have felt like scooting down to St Tropez to see if the beaches there had any other Juliets like the impossibly wilful and busty free spirit she played.
A critic once claimed the sight of her in a bikini was a reward for the austerities post-war Europeans were forced to undergo. Men will enjoy the moment when Bardot silently strokes a prone man's face with her sandy foot. SS 46 Gallipoli Peter Weir's tale of war and friendship in reaches a devastating finale in the clash between Australians and Turks on the shore of the Dardanelles.
Mel Gibson's race through the trenches with a crucial message - ignore the last order! Only if you have a loudhailer to help out poor old Mel. TR 45 Zorba the Greek Big-hearted Zorba Anthony Quinn can't resist rushing on to the beach and tearing his clothes off in joyful moments. This sun-baked cauldron is ideal for simmering Mediterranean passions.
ML 44 Beach Blanket Bingo In the fourth instalment of their beach-movie series, teen idols Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are hip to the beat in sun-kissed Malibu, where their adventures involve a singing starlet kidnapped by a motorcycle gang, sky-diving surfers, a mermaid - and even a brief appearance by the silent era's coolest daddio, Buster Keaton.
This is a shore where froth meets surf. A box full of mystery - something to do with America's atomic-energy programme? And the world turns white hot as Mike Hammer and his secretary stumble out towards the surf, looking over their shoulders in horror. Malibu's as hot a destination as ever, but that radioactive fallout may be off-putting. They're certainly better off than Tom Hanks, who has only a volleyball called Wilson as his Man Friday, and comes across as very short-tempered for a latter-day Crusoe.
Still, he'd win the contest of the wild-man beards, hands down. You'd need the right partner, preferably not one stitched together from synthetic leather.
TR 41 Miami Vice It's a trait of Mann's heroes - in Manhunter , Heat and The Insider - that they live in ludicrously desirable minimalist mansions right on the sea, an ever-present metaphor for careers on the edge. In his messy update of the s TV smash, the waves roll as Colin Farrell and Gong Li go in for the clinch, entire subplots left dangling. Wear designer shades, please, with plenty of synth-rock on your iPod. TR 40 Imitation of Life Douglas Sirk's majestic weepie begins with a vision of teeming daytrippers on the Coney Island waterfront - it's here that Lana Turner loses her daughter and finds her in the care of kindly African-American Juanita Moore.
It's a vivid postcard of an era - stripy trunks, hats and parasols as far as the eye can see, on a hot summer weekend with everyone out to play. It would be hard to find a spare patch of sand in all the bustling and sprawl. TR 39 Blue Hawaii Not long out of military service, a cheery and super-buff Elvis starred in the first and the best of his three Hawaii films, playing a pelvis-shaking, demobbed GI who just wants to hang out with his old beach-bumming friends and his girlfriend Joan Blackman on this sunny island paradise.
Who wouldn't want to be serenaded under palm trees by the King? SS 38 Splash After falling drunkenly out of a boat on an ill-advised trip to Cape Cod, Tom Hanks is found spreadeagled on a glorious stretch of sand, fully clothed and shouting "Ouch".
A naked Daryl Hannah appears from the bushes behind him, kisses him tenderly, then vanishes into the lapping waves. We see her tail; he does not. But it is an idyllic start to a goofy romance that introduced the directorial talents of Ron Howard.
How good can it get? Sun, sand, a kiss and a mermaid. SC 37A Star is Born Crashing waves punctuate the second and best telling of this old story wherein a successful movie star James Mason helps an aspiring starlet Judy Garland find fame as his own career flounders. They marry and live the idyllic life on the West Coast, the beach below their window.
But when he finds himself washed up and pulling her down with him, he walks out into that bitter sea, leaving her to tearfully renounce her stage name and announce: A dreamy Hollywood beach but best to stick to daytime swimming. SC 36 Point Break Kathryn Bigelow's wildly homoerotic daredevil thriller divides its time between bank raids, sky-diving and the edge of the Pacific - there's many a significant chat over a campfire as the sun goes down. Keanu Reeves knows where to find a fugitive Patrick Swayze when the tallest waves ever hit Bells Beach, Australia - and lets him vanish right into them.
For the ultimate surfing high, travel light, as you won't be coming back. TR 35 Nanook of the North On a booming, surf-battered stony Hudson Bay beach, an Eskimo crawls carefully towards a school of sleeping walruses - iviuk - that have hauled themselves out of the ferocious waves. At last, jumping to his feet, he harpoons the largest "bull" - starting a tremendous minute struggle.
Robert Flaherty's great documentary captures Nanook's triumph as he captures 2,lb of muscle, blubber and tusk. This beach is a freezing, primitive battleground: PH 34 The Fog With a jolting snap, a fob watch in close-up snaps shut. Enough time for one more story. One more story before twelve.
Just to keep us warm…" So begins John Carpenter's chilling slasher-cum-ghost story, the scene set with typical brio. The sailor's tale is as spooky as hell, but you'd want to hear it first-hand. MM 33 Whisky Galore! The race is on to outwit the local Home Guard captain, who is determined the cargo won't fall into the wrong hands.
Raise a warming toddy to Todday's bleak, edge-of-the-world beauty. ML 32 Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Filmmakers so often choose to end their stories on the beach, indelibly here. We get the grotesque spectacle of Bette Davis building sandcastles and frolicking with ice creams while Joan Crawford lies dying, and the cops close in. When they accost her, a crowd gathers, and Bette's faded child star treats her first audience in decades to a loony little dance.
This is an appealing-looking California hot spot, with a must-see bit of creepy cabaret. Walter intones a sombre eulogy, including unfathomable and irrelevant references to the Vietnam War, before liberating Donny's remains, which the blustery wind delivers straight into the Dude's unamused face.
There are impressive panoramic views when not veiled by smog or small suspicious-looking clouds of dust. ML 30 Eight and a Half First, poor blocked film director Guido Marcello Mastroianni has a nightmare in which he flies over a beach as a human kite, but is yanked to earth and death by a malign producer.
Later, he recalls going with schoolmates to visit Saraghina on a beach - a scary nymphomaniac giantess with a screw loose whose lubricious dancing sends the youngsters into paroxysms. Fellini's masterpiece makes the Italian beach dazzling - but also disturbing.
PH 29 Bhaji on the Beach Three generations of Asian women from Birmingham decide to escape from their mundane lives by taking a day trip to the seaside at Blackpool. On the journey, they start to bond, and learn some truths about their lives, their relationships, their racial identity and - by the time they reach the pleasure beach - each others' secrets. It's too chilly to sunbathe, with a cold wind whipping off the Irish Sea that takes a vindaloo to stave off. DG 28 Climates The Turkish summer beach here - hot and dazzling and blissfully deserted - is shot and edited with intense, hallucinatory sharpness on high-definition video, and is the setting for the morose, unfaithful, existentially floundering hero played by the director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan to break up with his beautiful young girlfriend Ceylan's wife.
Sleeping, she dreams he's heaping sand on her - and wakes screaming. Sunblock won't stop you getting burnt in this emotional furnace. PH 27 Summer Holiday At the wheel of a red double-decker, Cliff Richard exports his fresh-faced, boyish charm all the way to Greece. En route, he and his three larky London Transport buddies chirrup merrily, pick up some girls in France, find a stowaway on board, and wind up lost in Yugoslavia before finally getting to dip a toe in the shimmering Med.
All aboard the magic bus, kids! ML 26 The Beach Lord of the Flies updated for the Lonely Planet generation, The Beach, Danny Boyle's adaptation of the bestselling novel by Alex Garland, follows American backpacker Leonardo DiCaprio as he searches for a semi-mythical Eden that turns out to be as hair-raisingly scary a place as it is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Just watch Leo's giddy, disbelieving joy when he first sees the beach. SS 25 The Blue Lagoon Long a staple of late-night television schedules, this well-intentioned adaptation of a novel stars Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins as two children shipwrecked on a South Pacific tropical island, modern-day Adam and Eves accidentally exiled in an ocean-locked Garden of Eden.
Pretty as the underwater scenes are, the sight of a barely legal and barely clad Shields is close to softcore porn. Idyllic, despite Atkins's comic appearance: SS 24 South Pacific Lush, tropical South Sea beaches provide the backdrop for much of the action and many of Rodgers and Hammerstein's terrific songs, as a band of frustrated sailors swagger around roaring "There is Nothin' Like a Dame" and wistfully contemplate the mystical nearby island of Bali Ha'i.
You might even forget there's a war on. The final, wordless scene, in which his old prison buddy Red Morgan Freeman tracks him down to the endless, empty shore where Andy is restoring a boat, is guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat. The perfect place to lie back and contemplate a happy-ever-after future. ML 22 Pauline at the Beach Delightful Eric Rohmer comedy set on the Normandy coast one summer when teenager Pauline is brought by her older cousin Marion to have a nice time.
It proves to be an education in the silliness and vanity of adults, as skimpily clothed Marion and her admirers tie themselves in romantic knots. The pale Atlantic skies and sand have rarely looked so bucolic. SS 21 Quadrophenia Brighton again, and this time there's blood on the shingle as parka-clad, pill-popping Mods arrive on their Vespas to engage in running battles on the beach with greasy-haired Rockers, in a violent struggle for youth culture supremacy.
Ordinary holidaymakers shrink into the background as the warring gangs turn the beach into a combat zone. Get caught up in the pitched battles, and you'll wish you were somewhere else. DG 20 Whale Rider In Niki Caro's Maori rites-of-passage story, the shore is a site of ancient ritual and modern regeneration, as Paikea the Oscar-nominated Keisha Castle-Hughes defies her grandpa's wishes and trains alongside the boys.
When she spurs a beached whale back to sea with her heels, in the film's most epic sequence, her status as the tribe's new leader is assured. This Kiwi beach is now behind a locked gate, to the annoyance of locals. Seconds later, they're both in the drink.