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A Summer Place (1959)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  18 November 1959 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,977 users  
Reviews: 68 user | 17 critic

A self-made businessman rekindles a romance with a former flame while their two teenage children begin a romance of their own with drastic consequences for both couples.

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Title: A Summer Place (1959)

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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Egan ...
Ken Jorgenson
...
...
Molly Jorgenson
...
Bart Hunter
...
Johnny Hunter
Constance Ford ...
Helen Jorgenson
...
Mrs. Emily Hamilton Hamble
Jack Richardson ...
Claude Andrews
Martin Eric ...
Todd Harper, Handyman at Pine Island Inn
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Storyline

The Hunter family has long owned a mansion on Pine Island, a summer resort located off the Maine coast. Bart Hunter's now deceased father was able to open the mansion for free when Bart was younger, but current owner Bart, a drunkard and weak man, must now live there year round for financial survival with his wife Sylvia and their late teen-aged son Johnny, the family who are barely able to eke out a living with the mansion now as a year-round inn which is in an extreme state of disrepair. Bart and Sylvia are in a quietly unhappy marriage due largely to Bart's drinking. The Buffalo-based Jorgensons - husband Ken Jorgenson, his wife Helen Jorgenson and their late teen-aged daughter Molly Jorgenson - have rented rooms at the inn for the summer, while Ken looks for a summer house on the island. Ken lived on the island twenty years ago, he actually a working class lifeguard for Bart's father at that time. Ken is now a self-made millionaire as a research scientist, who had never been back ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Sommerinsel  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The house where Ken (Richard Egan) and Sylvia (Dorothy McGuire) lived toward the end of the film is an actual private residence that was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1948. It still stands today on Scenic Road in Carmel-by-the-Sea and is a prime feature in local tours. See more »

Goofs

When Ken and Sylvia meet for the first time at the boathouse, Ken is wearing a red shirt (in plain view even in the moonlight) when he closes the back doors. But when the camera cuts to him getting close to Sylvia, he is wearing a blue shirt. See more »

Quotes

Helen Jorgenson: You have to play a man like a fish.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Nanny: The Taxman Cometh (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Liebestraum
(uncredited)
Composed by Franz Liszt
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Sneaky Tub of Suds
28 November 2010 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

It's easy to mock this big tub of soap suds. What with the two baby-faced innocents and a ton of Dee's pouty close-ups, it's a generous slice of white bread, 50's style. But beneath all the teen-age angst and adult philandering lies a surprisingly subversive message for that uptight decade.

Because, once things get sorted out over the 130 minutes, we find out a number of social rules have not only been broken, but their violation justified. For example: the storyline implies that teen sex may be okay as long as the kids truly love each other— a violation of the teenage abstinence rule; that unwed teen pregnancy need not be punished— a challenge to Production Code insistence; and that adultery may be okay if the spouses are in impossible marriages—a further erosion of that seemingly sacred institution. The overall idea, is that no matter what, true love forgives all.

Now, this may seem pretty tame stuff 50-years later in our anything-goes era. But I guarantee, it was cutting edge Hollywood at the time, even if the messages were buried in a load of glossy make-believe. Responding to the slick package were lines of teens stretching around the block, and it wasn't just because of the catchy title tune. Then too, those folks curious about the breakdown of 50's conformity and the youth rebellion of the 60's should include this highly unexpected entry in their thinking.

At the same time, writer-director Daves seems an unlikely source for both the message and the genre, with his background in adult Westerns, such as the classic 3:10 to Yuma (1957). Here, he's very shrewd in his casting of Hollywood veterans. There's the likably masculine Egan (Ken) and the saintly maternal McGuire (Sylvia). Between them, they make infidelity seem not only permissible, but required. Then there's the affably tipsy Kennedy (Bart) and the assertively witchy Ford (Helen). Between them, they make cuckolding seem not only permissible, but also required. Taken together, it's almost perfect type casting. My only reservation is with Ford who seems too aggressively mean to make her marriage believable.

Daves is also a sneaky filmmaker since he wraps the controversial subtext in irresistible gloss. Few pictures of the era are as gorgeous as this one, and I'm not just talking about Donahue (who's even prettier than his co-star). Those Technicolor shots of the Carmel coastline are mesmerizing, along with the Lloyd Wright cliffside house. For visual contrast, compare this production with the thematically similar but dour-looking Blue Denim of the same year and also with two blonde innocents-- Brandon deWilde and Carol Lynley. The black&white Denim is the more earnest of the two, yet lacks the candy-box covering that giftwraps this production. Thus, for all its seriousness, Denim lacked the same teen drawing power and impact.

Anyway, as mentioned, mocking the film is easy, what with all the soapsuds and two Photoplay leads. However, I salute Daves for knowing how to get his humane message across to a popular audience, despite providing grist for generations of smirking critics. Happily, Daves proves here that there was more to his filmmaking than a fast gun, Glenn Ford, and a slow train to Yuma.


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