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Summer of '42
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Reviews & Ratings for
Summer of '42 More at IMDbPro »

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Index 76 reviews in total 

A truly beautiful movie

9/10
Author: Vincent Spletinckx from Belgium
14 January 2007

Based on Herman Raucher's script and personal life, Summer of '42 is a very touching movie about the coming of age of three young friends in New England at the outbreak of WWII. While his friends Oscy and Benjie are more interested in girls their age hoping to experience their first romantic adventure, Hermie rather falls for Dorothy, a young and beautiful woman (played by a radiant Jennifer O'Neill) who's husband has just been send to the European front. Light and amusing notes describing the various challenges the three teenagers are meeting in their quest are intermingled with the sober and pure relationship developing between Hermie and Dorothy as they become friends. The magical music theme of Michel Legrand brilliantly underscore the nostalgic tone of a film that beautifully captures Hermie's (but in an allegoric way, all of us) growth through friendship, love and lost of innocence. Truly one of the most moving and beautiful films I have ever seen.

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Summer of 42

9/10
Author: paddynair-1 from India
11 December 2006

Outstanding movie with sensitive portrayal.A pity that Jennifer O Neill did not really hit the big stage as she could have.Really does portray teen age adolescence in a very sensitive way without any vulgarity whatsoever.

Gary Grimes should have also got nominated.He also did not come up to the big time in the manner expected.The theme was outstanding and much of the credit for this must go to the author of the book Herman Raucher who is the real hero for the success of the movie.

A movie of genius played by actors who were putting on the show of their lives

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A beautiful film, interesting study...

9/10
Author: MarieGabrielle from United States
7 November 2006

of character. Gary Grimes as a young man becoming involved with his first "older woman", well-portrayed by Jennifer O'Neil.

This film was directed by Robert Mulligan who later directed "Clara's Heart", also a sensitive study of a young man (starring Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg).

Also his forte seems to be locations. The Mendocino coast in Northern California was used as a backdrop, the beach becomes metaphor for change, everything moves on, the fragile foundations people live with etc.

At the end of the film Hermie sees some of his friends going their separate ways after the summer. He realizes he has changed, he no longer sees things the same way. That is part of growing up, having sadness, realizing the aspirations you thought would make your life perfect when you were younger no longer are as crucial, everything has shifted with time. 9/10.

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A heart warming movie

9/10
Author: Gaurav Lamba from United States
23 September 2006

Summer of 42's story is simple yet the emotions being portrayed are really genuine ones that most of us undergo in the early years of life. Its easy to identify with the movie because of the friendly banter and the confusions and anxieties of stepping into adulthood. With the comic moments of three boys struggling through sexuality and growing up, we get to know the story of Hermie(Played by Gary Grimes). He has a thinking mind and a sensitive heart. He falls for the simple charms of gorgeous Dorothy(Played by Jennifer O'Neill). Dorothy's husband dies during the War, and Herbie, who's intrigued and mesmerized by her discovers a very sensitive woman in her.

Dorothy leaves the very next day leaving him a letter and an everlasting imprint on his heart. This story is believed to be an autobiography of the director Robert Mulligan. Overall, a very good film that you would love coming back to.

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A lyrical coming-of-age film that mirrors one's own growing up

8/10
Author: haroonr1 from Vancouver, BC
18 September 2006

That one lost love, that first kiss, or even the wish of having had either one is so very precious. And this movie captures one such association.

The novel on which it's based on is an absolute gem. I was 17 when I read that and I finished it in one sitting -- totally hypnotized. The movie does justice to the book though it falls in that typical 95% of population whereby the movie is not better than the book.

The lead actor is fine. But Jennifer O'Neill steals the show with her brief but absolutely lovely appearance. Just her smile is enough to traverse through the deepest corner of one's heart. She fits the role perfectly.

The love theme from this movie won the Oscar and deservedly so. The music alone will keep this movie alive in the record books but this is a very personal film. And for those who relate to it, it is a sublime movie watching experience that cannot be forgotten easily.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Captivating coming of age tale, but do note my disclaimer

6/10
Author: roghache from Canada
6 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie over 30 years ago when I was a young college student and loved it. However, my opinion of it has changed a bit over the years. I would still recommend this classic coming of age tale (both as an amusing glimpse into the hormones kicking in, so to speak, and also a young male adolescent's bittersweet experience of first love), but with a big disclaimer. Please don't anyone get their standards of appropriate adult behavior from it.

In summary, this story, especially during the first half, revolves around the humorous, almost innocent sexual fantasies of three male adolescents (Hermie, Oscy, and Benjie) who get their thrills chortling over explicit reproductive pictures from medical journals and comparing notes about 'how far they got' (really, not very far!) with the young girls. Sadly, this would of course not make any story whatsoever today because sex is everywhere in the media and throughout society all the time.

Later the main and quite endearing character, Hermie, is smitten with an 'older' 20 something year old woman, Dorothy (played by the lovely Jennifer O'Neill), whose husband is off fighting World War II. The early scenes between them as he helps her with groceries and so on are quite amusingly and touchingly done. Viewers of both sexes would be sympathetic toward Hermie's awkwardness, his youthful emotions and passions. Like one of the other reviewers, I found it pretty funny when 15 year old Hermie tries to impress the mature object of his affections with his fondness for black coffee!

*** WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD ***

However, the finale to their relationship now gives me pause. One evening when Hermie visits Dorothy's beach house, he finds her quietly grief stricken, having just discovered that her husband has been killed in action oversees. He tries silently to comfort her, they begin slow dancing, one thing leads to another...and you can imagine the end result here. Hermie's conflicted emotions following his first sexual encounter are touching, as the two basically never see each other again.

Now, 30 years after my original viewing and having raised a son myself, I find myself questioning Dorothy's behavior. I have every sympathy for the young widow's pain and am perhaps judging her a little harshly, but I'd be pretty upset, grief stricken or not, drinking or not, if a woman her age had slept with my son when he was 15. Hermie, raging hormones notwithstanding, isn't the one who took advantage of Dorothy's fragile emotional state to satisfy his own physical needs; SHE'S the one who took advantage of HIM and his youthful feelings to comfort HER.

I was quite pleased to note that I'm not totally way out in left field here. Some reviewers seem positively livid and question whether Dorothy is a child molester or pedophile, and use phrases like statutory rape. I definitely wouldn't go that far, given her traumatized state, but make no mistake, it's not laudatory adult behavior. Using others (especially vulnerable adolescents) isn't right, so while it may be dramatic, let's not make this a rosy enchanting ending, please.

If Hermie wasn't permanently scarred by the encounter, great. The point is, boys aren't just hormones but have emotions, too. A few have rightly commented that the public would be outraged if the sex of these two characters had been reversed, with a young girl being taken advantage of by a recently bereaved man in his 20's. They're absolutely correct that it wouldn't have been called a 'nostalgic' tale in that case.

That being said and bear it in mind, it's an amusing and touching story all in all, and I suppose in a sense its sins are pretty minor (to say the least) when compared with the outrages on the screen today. You'll enjoy this movie and yes, you'll probably recall your own particular Summer of 42, whatever form it may have taken.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Atmospheric film, verging on paedo poetry

8/10
Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
7 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Robert Mulligan developed a wonderful style in the 1970s (best exhibited in "Summer of 42" and "The Other"), which utilised a roaming camera, ethereal images and a tone that might be described as poetic Gothicism. Many directors (Nicholas Roeg, Terrence Malick, Bob Rafelson etc) were adopting a similar style during this time, but Mulligan enjoyed marrying his aesthetic to coming of age tales and cute flicks about lost innocence ("The Man In The Moon", "The Other", "Summer of 42", "Up the Down Staircase").

"Summer of 42" revolves around fifteen year old Gary Grimes, a fresh-faced kid who's spending the summer of 1942 vacationing on Nantucket Island, off the coast of New England. The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbour and America is in turmoil, but Gary and his friends, Jerry and Benjie, are far removed from the harsh realities of war. In fact, they only have one thing on their minds: sex.

Mulligan's camera watches as the boys discuss sex, go on dates with girls, purchase condoms and leaf through sex-education books, each scene tinged with a mixture of adolescent awkwardness and nostalgia. But it's local woman Dorothy who really gets the boys excited. Wife to a young man recently sent off to serve in World War 2, the boys watch from afar, with rapt fascination, as this beautiful woman glides angelically around their island.

The rest of the film involves a fairly creepy sexual relationship between Dorothy and Gary, which eventually climaxes with the couple having sex. Why they copulate is given very little explanation, other than Gary being perpetually aroused, horny and anxious to enter manhood, and Dorothy being vulnerable because her husband has recently died abroad. The plot is so thin, the characters so cardboard and several scenes so lecherous (the camera focusing on Dorothy's butt, breasts, sunbathing body etc), that it's a surprise the film still works so well.

Of course, swap the gender roles in this flick and audiences would be picketing cinemas and accusing it of promoting paedophilia (how many films are there where wounded grown men are seduced by 15 year old girls?), but Mulligan cons us into accepting this all as art, his poetic fades, gentle touch and relaxing camera work lending class to what is really one big male sex fantasy.

Incidentally, a segment from this film is featured in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". "The Shining", a film filled with "reflections", number games (42, 21, 12s etc pop up all over the place in Kubrick's film) and "mirrors", seems to reverse several scenes and gender roles in Mulligan's picture, and the oddly shaped mirror before which Dorothy and Gary make illicit love will itself appear in various forms in Kubrick's film, hinting at various dark, horrific avenues.

7.9/10 – Despite its awkward acting and thin, salacious plot, "Summer of 42" possess great atmosphere. A young Steven Spielberg would be heavily influenced by Mulligan, the predatory shark of "Jaws" modelled on Mulligan's "The Stalking Moon" and the lazy seaside atmosphere of Spielberg's coastal town building upon what Mulligan does here.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Complex

9/10
Author: bluejayfly-837-630026 from new york
5 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are a lot of people who responded positively to the movie which I believe is because it was well made. The manner in which it was filmed with its seaside scenes, the touching music, and the subject matter. Even the films flaws like the mediocre acting had an endearing charm which strengthened the theme of teen innocence. These qualities blend together so well that people overlook the films greatest weakness its controversial ending. A 22 yrs old adult who engages in sex with 15 yrs old child is a rapist by federal and state law. Aside from that revolting aspect if Herme was "mature enough" to have sex with a grown women then having it with a women who is that emotionally shattered is a problem. It is suppose to be comforting but seems opportunistic since she probably would not have slept with him otherwise. He seems more concerned with casting off his virginity than the damage it does to her which proves he is immature. For these reasons its a great college classroom movie because it explores a variety of controversial topics in a complex manner. As art it is good and as a movie it is ugly.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Casual, nostalgic coming of age story enhanced by music...

6/10
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
3 October 2006

Michel Legrand won an Oscar for his sweetly nostalgic background score for SUMMER OF '42, a coming of age story about a teen-ager in love with a young war bride. JENNIFER O'NEILL is the rapturously attractive young woman and GARRY GRIMES the boy who fantasizes about her until they do meet and have a brief bittersweet affair.

There's nothing special about the story except that it probably gave teen-age boys a fantasy they could easily relate to and in a way that would make a deep impression on them for the rest of their lives.

It's skillfully directed by Robert Mulligan who gets a lot of humor and tenderness out of the tale, while at the same time capturing the manners and morals of the 1940s with the proper atmosphere, costumes and settings.

A nice film that moves slowly but has some wonderful moments enhanced by Michel Legrand's easy to listen to kind of score. There's even some Max Steiner music from NOW VOYAGER mixed into the score.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Stultifying remembrances...

5/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
6 December 2010

Heavy petting on the home front. Coming-of-age tale has a 15-year-old boy vacationing with his family on Nantucket Island during wartime, becoming smitten with a solder's wife living by herself in a house on the beach. The youngster offers to carry the attractive woman's groceries, and later lugs her boxes up into attic, but what he really wants to do is master the twelve steps of coupling. Screenwriter Herman Raucher based his story on his own experiences as a sexually-curious juvenile, and received an Academy Award nomination for his work--rather surprising since the film (though popular at the box-office, for a variety of reasons) isn't very good. The dialogue throughout is so stilted and unremarkable, and the scenario so underpopulated and bland, that the sniggering charm of a vacuous boy hoping to ingratiate himself to an older woman is really all the picture has to offer. The Oscar-winning music by Michel Legrand gives the movie a touch of bittersweet nostalgia, but Robert Surtees' zoom-happy cinematography and Robert Mulligan's plodding direction just about kills any genuine interest in the characters. Newcomer Gary Grimes is over-directed; he's impossibly scrubbed-clean and galumphing one minute, and smiling like a naughty child the next. We first see Jennifer O'Neill romping with her husband in slow-motion, however the rest of her performance also feels a little slow. We never get to know this gorgeous lady; she's as overly-polite and blank as her junior-suitor. The finale is excruciatingly tasteful, dithering and dumb. There was no other place for the story to go but to the bedroom, but one can't help but thinking this was a bad idea. Audiences in 1971 surely hooted at the earnestness to which Grimes is initiated into manhood. Mulligan apparently wants us to feel a kinship with the boy, while the woman disappears into the sea-air like an evaporating question-mark. ** from ****

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