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This movie captivated me beyond my expectations. Not being a movie-goer
or a TV-watcher, I had not yet seen (or read about) the movie, its
excerpts, the original book, or the cast, although I had heard
references to the summer of '42. After an intense work week, I had
tuned into the PBS channel on TV to watch 30 minutes of a business news
program, at the end of which, PBS showed that "The Summer of '42" was
next. I thought of watching it only for a few minutes - not really
being interested in seeing a story from 62 years ago in a movie made 33
years ago. PBS played the movie without a break, and I sat through all
of it - totally captivated. I don't think I can explain the reasons
with a typical technical analysis. I think it held me in a trance,
because it reflected my own coming of age. Even though I grew up in a
different era, country, culture and society, there were many parallels
to the drugstore episode, the furtive readings of the book, the
carrying of the grocery bags, the storing away of the boxes, and the
attempted "fooling around" inside the movie theater.
I like a production (movie; theater; music) that reflects the reality one experiences in life. This movie was one of those rare productions. I felt it was quite artistic in its balance - the way it assimilated simple elements from everyday living, with a simple, but enchanting, musical score. The movie did not need any dazzling stage effects - Jennifer O'Neill was enough; and, even in her, the art and beauty was in her being so natural.
In the end, I felt good about spending the time to see the movie.
This is truly a wonderful film and a classic. It has everything:
romance, comedy, sadness and the reminiscence of puberty and coming of
age. The dialog between Hermie and his two teenage buddies wile
exploring their emerging sexuality is a wonderful and hilarious, i.e.,
"Do you think I'm in love with Vera Michaels. I hope I'm not in love
with her. I hate her." Who couldn't relate to those things in our
Jennifer O'Neill, as Hermie's crush Dorothy, is gorgeous and well suited for her role. The scenes between her and Hermie go from funny and clever to sad and wondrous. One can only guess the emotions going on inside Dorothy's head when she finds out her husband has been killed in the war. I always felt she just wanted to experience closeness with someone during that time and Hermie just happened to be nearby. She also knew he cared about her and it was important for her to be needed . . . by someone.
A glorious film and one I can watch tons of times and discover something different each time. Highly recommended.
P.S. Michele LeGrand's musical score is beautiful. Just another plus for the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Summer of 42
By Tom Fowler
This film touched me in an odd way. Perhaps it is because I waited 30 years to view it and see so much of the young guy I used to be in Hermie that it is sort of frightening. One shouldn't look too deeply into a mirror of any kind. Most people reading this are going to be familiar with this old and well known story. Three young boys, all 15 years of age, are spending a boring summer on a vacation island in the summer of 1942. The lovely Dorothy, 22 years old and her husband away fighting the war, is hauntingly played by Jennifer O'Neill, fresh and very beautiful in the summer of 1972 when this film was enjoying it's impressive run in the nation's theaters. Dorothy lives alone and Hermie injects himself into her life, carrying groceries and performing odd jobs around her home. Director Robert Mulligan was wise not let us get to know Dorothy too well, as this allows us to feel the same mystique regarding her as Hermie feels, and it is through his eyes the key parts of this fine film are presented.
Hermie was smitten with Dorothy from the beginning, but we are never allowed to think the feelings were reciprocated, much to Mulligan's credit, for Summer of 42 could very easily have been turned into something sleazy without his skillful and understated direction. Throughout the film, we see a view of the world through 15 year old male eyes. Life and love are overwhelming mysteries at that age and we are somewhat comforted by the fact that it is not until deep into the film that Dorothy, shocked and grief stricken by the telegram informing of her soldier husband's death, succumbs to a temporary but very intense emotion and introduces Hermie to a world he has only dreamt about. Everything comes with cost and we see Hermie and his buddies, themselves introduced to the world of females and relationships during this long summer, at film's end retreating back, for the precious time they have left for it, into the safety of childhood and teenage concerns. Perhaps this film worked as well as it did because of the presence of Ms. O'Neill. Her personal problems and anguish are well documented, and one wonders if some of this did not show up onscreen at this very early time in her life? An element of sadness hangs over Summer of 42 to this day. Robert Mulligan could not sustain the promise of this film and The Others, a little known but wonderful film made during the same general time period,. Gary Grimes never had another Hermie role and certainly Ms. O'Neill never realized her vast potential nor ever again reached the excellence she did as Dorothy. Who knows, perhaps art did imitate life to come and that is what gives Summer of 42 its well deserved reputation.
Oh. My. God.
What a stunning piece of craftsmanship. A masterpiece. Such innocence. Such humanity. Such wisdom. Such truth. Such is the need to touch the soul of another, and such is the need to seek comfort. Yet tenderness risks so much. Oh to be tender again. Yet who could bear it again?
I remember when I was eight years old and I remember what a splash this movie made. I don't really recall that I was told or even understood why, and of course I wasn't taken to see it at that age, at that time, when it was common to keep children ignorant of much they are not today. I'm not sure now that it wasn't the craving of the parents to let themselves drown in the strangeness that is naivety prolonged too long for the sake of innocence itself rather than some strange desire to protect their children from things the children could already begin to feel within themselves but were not allowed to mention or ask about.
Though the latter is, even today, what is trumpeted about as the reason for shielding children from things they might not be ready for, I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't really the parents who are just protecting themselves, trying to squeeze out more childhood days from their children for the parents to enjoy before they must finally release their darling children into the fray that tides upon the whims of nature and destiny.
This movie came out in 1971. Tonight they played it late on our local PBS station here in Dallas. I'd never seen it and not thought about renting it and watching it in all these 33 years since then.
One might say it is simply about a couple of 15 year old boys coming of age. But it is more than that. So much more. In fact, without question, it is about the human condition itself.
This is a movie about sex, no doubt about that either. But a movie of a kind that I don't think I've ever seen before. Everyone should see this film. Everyone.
If you live alone, see it and feel your own soul's needs. If you live with someone, see it together and draw him or her close.
Above all, when it is over, you will find yourself remembering and feeling that rarest of all feelings, true tenderness.
The young men should have received acclaim for their performances , and without question so too should have the woman.
For she was woman, every woman.
I saw this film with my dad at the long-gone Surf Theater on 74th Street and Collins Avenue on Miami Beach as a sneak preview. The theater was packed and I was 13 years old and three girls in their early 20s sat next to us, and I was a little red-faced about the movie. But, what a truly beautiful and romantic film. I always thought that my "first" love would be like the Summer of 42. Unfortunately in my case it wasn't. I joined the Army and had my "first" experience with a B-girl(bar-girl) overseas. It wasn't until I was 25 that I think I really had the "love feelings" that were shown in this timeless classic. A great film with outstanding performances by all involved. Really a shame that Gary Grimes and Jerry Houser never achieved the super stardom they deserved. And Jennier O'Neal was so beautiful. She was all-natural, so fresh, so down-to-earth. The Summer of 42 is great.
I first saw this movie on TV as a teenager in the 70s. One or two of my
sisters may have been watching too, and it was somewhat embarrassing
when the intimate scene with Hermie and Dorothy came out, but I wasn't
about to turn my head as I enjoyed the movie as a whole. My parents
were never that strict on us so I didn't have that worry.
This movie tugs at the emotions. The impossible relationship with the beautiful older woman. The camaraderie with friends during that age. It's also interesting how 15 year old girls were made to appear so immature and unsexy, like when the 3 boys had dates and were standing in a movie line. Everything points to the thrill of that older woman relationship. I was just wanting that to happen for Herbie, and when it did... wow. Some of the situations were humorous, like when Herbie tries to buy rubbers at the dime store. Just all in all a great story, one I can watch again and again. I give it 8 out of 10 stars. This one is easily in my top 250.
Benjie was the nerd, Oscy was the tough guy, and Hermie was like most
of us guys - confused, inquisitive, and deep in thought about a love he
couldn't have. One of them was interested in a little rubber ball, one
owned a rubber and was dying to use it, and one was somewhere in
between. At least one of them would look back upon their adventures
during the summer of '42 and recall it with the vivid detail that many
of us have about our own childhood
For those adults who were once a fifteen-year-old boy or ever wanted to understand them, this is the movie that will touch you. To children who ever wanted to understand male adolescence before the digital world, this movie is a must. Other movies have come close but it remains my favorite flick and I am deeply grateful for Herman Raucher.
I have seen a classic that was indeed a keeper. Summer of '42 is a monster of a hit. Strong, gripping story of coming of age of three mischief makers wanting to know about love during the times of war. The setting was magnificent, Gary Grimes role of dreamer Hermie was outstanding, Jennifer O'Neal as Dorothy was fantastic! Lots of nostalgia, talking about sex was mainly the theme. But when it comes to love it all shows. I felt a lot of wonder and awe when Hermie spent a lot of time with Dorothy with each level: Comedy,it's when he helped store some items, and feeling her moves with every glance he made. Drama, when she lost her husband in the war; Romance, when Hermie got his wish. Losing your innocence is nothing to be ashamed of, when it's caused by curiosity. This one encounter I think that Hermie will NEVER forget in his lifetime. The other two would have to find out themselves about their buddy. Hermie was the risk taker, and it made its payoff. He has more maturity than the other two ruffians. I enjoyed the 10 minutes of silence between Hermie and Dorothy. If you like that try the sequel "Class of '44" and "Stealing Home". This movie gets the 100% grade of A+
"The Summer of '42" is an exceptional and touching film, one that holds a special place in American film history. It is not a film to be forgotten. And the musical score by Michel Legrand is easily one of the most beautiful ever produced. See this film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Hermie" plays the last 10 minutes of this movie in silence, as his
buddy Oscy talks to him about boy things like raiding the Coast Guard
Station, and then as he walks through the gathering late-summer wind to
the house where his first lover no longer waits. He finds her note,
walks away from the little clapboard house as the wind whips the long
grass around, reminding you that summer is all but over, and a
voice-over tells us that Hermie never saw her again or even heard about
her (until after the movie came out, when apparently she made contact:
She had remarried and lived a long, full life).
I can't think of another movie ending that I have found so touching, so evocative. What an artistic triumph.
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