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|Index||76 reviews in total|
"Summertime" is more of a mood piece than anything else. It captures
the loneliness of a traveler in a foreign land, in this case a spinster
who is hungry for love but too repressed to accept the love Rossano
Brazzi offers. It has a bittersweet ending, appropriate for a thin
story that sets the tone early on and never once makes us believe that
Hepburn is going to find her true love in Venice.
The photography is gorgeous and must have had everyone heading for the nearest travel bureau for a tour of Italy when the film was released. The performances are all excellent--but the film belongs to Hepburn. She creates one of her most moving and truthful portraits--sensitively showing us what this woman feels as she watches others pairing off for affairs, alone and unable to really connect. The sexual mores of the 1950s permeate the film--the sexual revolution was just over the horizon but not yet evident.
One of Hepburn's most subtle, yet affecting performances. With David Lean's sensitive direction, the gorgeous photography and the evocative background music, "Summertime" will put you under the spell of its fragile romance. Easy to see why Brazzi was the ultimate continental charmer.
A few weeks ago, I spent a summer day in Venice and was reminded of what a
beautiful, magical place it is (I'd spent a few days there on vacation
previously). I remember thinking at the time that no matter how many photos
I took, I would never be able to capture its essence--the twisting little
alleys shielded by towering brick walls, the staggeringly lovely
architecture scattered through piazzas, the feel of walking on water as
gondolas drift by below you--Venice is about life, living, love. It didn't
seem possible to me that all that could ever be effectively captured on
In filming SUMMERTIME, David Lean has come as close as anyone ever will to capturing the feel and atmosphere of the magical city. While watching the film for the first time, I felt almost as if I were walking through the streets of Venice myself, all the colour and noise and beauty intact. All the little things were there, the places visited, the things done (taking a water bus, or washing one's face in the springs to keep cool)... It helps that I can recognise the monuments from personal experience, of course, but the photography is so lush, and the attention to detail so great (there is one scene of several set in the Piazza San Marco in which an entire flock of pigeons take wing in the background--it is so breathtaking that one feels it must have been choreographed) that you really are taking Jane Hudson's journey with her. That, for a moment that lasts through the film, you are part of that world, part of David Lean's Venice. I only wish I had the opportunity to see this film on the big screen, to be able to experience the cinematography the way it was meant to be experienced.
The plot of the film is itself somewhat weak. Katharine Hepburn plays a lonely spinster, Jane Hudson, who has saved and saved all her life to finally make her dream trip come true. It turns out to be a dream trip in more ways than one, for she soon meets and falls in love with Renato di Rossi (Rossano Brazzi), a married shopkeeper with several children. They share a few dizzying, intimate days together, but Jane eventually has to make a choice between her heart and her mind.
A great part of the film is involved in setting up Jane as a desperately lonely figure, and therefore the love affair itself, though sweet, feels rushed through. (When intimacy *is* created, however, it is startlingly touching. Take for example the scene on the island of Burado, or when Renato buys Jane her first flower.) What makes the romance more tangible and believable to the viewer is the skill of the performers involved--you truly hurt from the aching loneliness Katharine Hepburn sneaks into every corner of her Jane Hudson, from the way she holds herself when she sits, to the slightly pained eyes and tightly crossed arms--her defences when she realises how alone she really is, even amidst the noise and bustle of the city. You feel sorry for her when she pretends that she is waiting for someone, positioning the chair just so and placing her own coffee before it, just to not appear entirely pathetic to her friends from the Penzione Fiorini. Hepburn manages to pull this off while also infusing Jane with an almost child-like desire to find a little magic for herself, a miracle in the form of a summer romance.
Rossano Brazzi too is excellent at walking that fine line between charm and smarm, because you never really know whether his intentions towards Jane are good or not-largely due to the revelation regarding his status as a family man. Perhaps for this reason the romance between Jane and Renato seems a bit forced for the purposes of finishing the tale David Lean set out to tell, but there is to be no denying that Hepburn and Brazzi do have great chemistry together.
SUMMERTIME isn't the kind of movie you'd recommend to *all* of your friends and constantly badger them until they've seen it and can talk to you about it. It's the kind of film you tell a select few people about, people you feel will appreciate it and understand it, and will connect with it like you do. That, perhaps, is its own special little magic.
Jane Hudson (Katherine Hepburn), a middle-aged American school teacher,
arrives in Venice, fulfilling a lifelong dream
On her first evening,
she has an encounter with Mauro, an enterprising little street child,
who becomes her unofficial escort
But in the evening, while seating in
a crowded café, she sees a handsome man in a gray flannel suit... Her
first instinctive reaction was to oppose, pay the bill, escape, and
keep out of sight...
The next evening, she sits alone to take a drink in the Piazza San Marco, but with a wandering eye As the violins begin playing 'Summertime in Venice', Jane would turn away in a heart beat to see Renato passing by To hide her anxiousness, she inclines the chair next to her, pretending that she is expecting a company... Jane has come to Venice to find a handsome, unmarried hero of her dreams... But she is furious and resentful... She really can't understand what she is doing...
The most advantageous thing about David Lean's 'Summertime' is its sensitive portrait of the loneliness that holds back the fancy secretary, a desperately single heroine whose search for romance and adventure is prevented less by cultural differences than by her own feeling defenses...
Hepburn is a pleasant tourist with great magnetism... Rossano Brazzi is too powerful, tempting and charming as Renato, the Venetian who couldn't catch a fallen white gardenia in one of the canals of his town
The mood is leisurly, the pace deliberate, and the look of Venice is shimmering and magical. This "brief encounter" of an American spinster on vacation falling for a married, though separated, man is David Lean as his best. It is also one of Katherine Hepburn's lovely performances. Having read about production problems with this film, it became all the more remarkable to watch. To name a few, Hepburn suffered severe eye damage from her spill in the stagnant canal (in a remarkable shot without use of a double) and the stench from the waters aggravated ailments left over from her previous "African Queen." Also her private life during the filming mirrored the quiet desparation of the heroine, due to personal circumstances. Yet all of this is amazingly hidden through the skill of Director Lean and his camera crew. It's a Hepburn "spinster" role she played many times ("Alice Adams," "The Rainmaker") and no one could do it as convincingly. "Summertime" is a kind of film they don't make any more--and for good reason: they couldn't top it. Nor is there a "Hepburn" today able to carry a full production like this on her shoulders as effectively as this legendary actress.
I've seen this movie quite a few times on televison, but during the 2003
60th Venice Film Festival I had the opportunity to see it on a big, big
screen in a brand new copy.
Well, miss Hepburn's acting is breath taking, one of the few times she incarnates a woman so vulnerable, and she does it to perfection. And the tone and mood of the entire pic, while a little bit too "touristic", are absolutely sweet and romantic. I live in Venice, and can surely say that seeing what's on screen, I'm sure David Lean did fall in love with this city
Only one minor (really minor) flair: some scenes were filmed in winter, not in summer, since the Moors of San Marco Square's clock only appear once a year, at Christmas time (and seeing the movie on a big screen, it was possible to notice that while the Moors were striking the hours, people on the back ground, although out of focus, were wearing coats and furs)..
Ms. Hepburn portrayed the many stages of love so convincingly that it is
difficult to remember it's just a movie.
One of the most appealing aspects of this film is that both she and her co-star are in their middle years. Their ability to show the blossom of new love and all the "ubbly, bubbly" feelings/emotions that go along with it are excellent examples of great acting.
These days, Hollywood seems to believe that only teen or pre-teen love stories have any box-office appeal. For the most part, the acting is secondary to the amount of skin they reveal throughout the flick.
If you haven't seen this movie in the past 10 years, it's definitely a film to check-out again.
As someone who has viewed Summertime 5 or 6 times a year for its beauty
alone, I can clear up a few questions: Jane Hudson has come to Venice for a
relatively short vacation for which "she has waited such a long time" and
"saved for so very long." She's a "fancy secretary" she says. It's easy to
surmise from the action of the film that she is spending somewhere between
one and two weeks in Venice. (They meet, she resists, she gives in, the go
off for a weekend on the isle of Burano.)She's not rich and neither is he.
As for Renato's attraction to the prim Jane: first it's her ankle and calf, when he spots her at the cafe in Piazza San Marco. Next, it's her awkward shyness when she catches him looking at her. He is absolutely ga-ga over her "innocence" and sets his sights on the conquest. (The two of them play this nearly wordless scene brilliantly. I'd think anybody with a soul and two eyes would get it.)Then, naturally, when his heat is turned onto her and she blooms, he can't get enough.
She was 48 and he 39 when the film was released.
What a gem of a film this is!
Katharine Hepburn, David Lean, 1950's fashion and Venice herself. A bitter-sweet romantic comedy this film has all the right ingredients and takes you back to a time when Hollywood was still making movies that were a joy to watch and showed the stars and directors at their best.
Katharine Hepburn is glorious here. Forget all the Tracy/Hepburn wise-cracking comedies. Here she is allowed to shine. Here we see the comedy of "Bringing up Baby" honed down to a look here, a gesture there - but we also see what was to become the legendary vulnerability. She was 48 when she made this film but she never looked lovelier and Lean photographs her in glorious Technicolour so that her freckled face and auburn hair radiate off the screen. These, together with her spunky personality capture the eye (and heart!) of Renato di Rossi (well played by Rossano Brazzi - eleven years KH's junior) and they play so well together. She as the lonely spinster experiencing love for the first time. He the married man flirting the holiday romance. Or is he?
The minor characters are a foil to the main action (rather like those in Brief Encounter) and work well.
A touching story. Well played, beautifully shot and still a tear-jerker some fifty five years after its release. Hepburn was nominated but missed out on the Oscar for this to Anna Magnini (who she?) for The Rose Tattoo(remember that? - thought not!) but hey, who needs an the Academy vote when you've got a team like this?
Highly recommended but have your Kleenex ready.
David Lean's film version of the Arthur Laurents play, THE TIME OF THE
CUCKOO, which starred Shirley Booth, is a shimmering and beautiful
valentine set in Venice, but one with a touch of realism.
Katharine Hepburn stars as a mousy secretary from Akron who saves for years to have an adventure. She's a spunky and self-sufficient gal who yearns to find love. She arrives in Venice and is immediately under the city's spell even though she's always running into the crass couple from Illinois. As she wanders the city, she's befriended by a tough little boy who is savvy in the way of tourists and thievery.
She spots a man (Rossano Brazzi) several times in San Marco plaza and one day wanders into his shop to buy a red goblet. She is stunned that the owner is the same man. He pursues her but her puritanical streak flares up when she discovers he is married.
As the weeks pass she discovers all sorts of seamy thing about the owner of the pensione (Isa Miranda) and other guests (Darren McGavin, Mari Aldon) and even herself and what's she's willing to settle for.
The ending at the train station is beautifully shot and justifiably famous. Indeed the entire film is an eyeful of beauty, and Venice, with its canals, bridges, and ancient towers is breathtaking. The film also contains the famous scene where Hepburn falls into the canal. In Kevin Brownlow's biography of Lean, the director admits that there were nets in the water to prevent Hepburn from sinking to the bottom of the canal which was full of garbage.
This is a stunningly beautiful film with a slim story that nevertheless boasts great performances from Hepburn and Brazzi. The supporting cast is also very good, including Jane Rose and MacDonald Parke as the tourists, Jeremy Spencer as Brazzi's son, Andre Morell as the man on the train, and Gaetano Autiero as the street kid.
Hepburn won an Oscar nomination.
The picture deals with a attractive spinster secretary (Katherine
Hepburn) from Ohio who goes to holiday and has ultimately made it to
Venice , for her long-awaited dream . Never-married , likable
middle-aged Jane is a self-described "independent type" who's content ,
or so she claims , to go it mostly solitary , wielding her movie camera
throughout the city when she meets a antiques merchant (Rossano Brazzi)
. Jane soon discovers that even in a town as marvelous and riveting as
Venice , going it alone can still leave one feeling unfortunately alone
. She's trapped in an idyllic romance until that's realised of the
reality . She also befriends a helpful beggar boy who pursues her
The film plot is plain and simple but abounds the surprises . The various highlights movie include : the spectacular downfall of Hepburn into the Venice canal or when the lovers watch how the flower dropped to water is going away and of course the sensitive and exciting final in the train and station . Impressive and breathtaking cinematography by Jack Hyldyard ; David Lean , in fact , had only used four photographers throughout his career . The other cameramen have been Guy Green , Ronald Neame and Freddie Young , everybody notorious color specialists . Katherine Hepburn's interpretation is top notch , she's sympathetic , romantic , attractive , memorable but also sad and vulnerable . Rossano Brazzi as a Latin lover is awesome . The support cast although relatively known -Darren McGavin, Isa Miranda , Marie Aldon- is very secondary , the film is principally interpreted by the excellent pair : Hepburn and Brazzi . Production set by Vincent Korda is spectacular , Korda is considered the greatest British designer . The motion picture is well directed by David Lean , author of many cinema classics . The picture will appeal to romantic movies fans . Rating : Above average . Well worth seeing .
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