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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warning! Spoilers in this review. I was young and naive when I saw this film. About 15 years old I think. It truly both educated me, and changed my life. This was the first time I became aware that others had feelings comparable to the ones that I had. The scene where Hermie has to buy the rubbers is hilarious. The druggist was perfectly casted. It's hard to imagine nowadays that it used to be against the law to sell condoms to people under a certain age. Anyway, I strongly suggest reading the book before seeing the movie. It allows you to know what thoughts are going through Hermie's head throughout the film. For instance, there is one scene where he is holding the ladder as she puts items in the attic. In the film you simply see him smiling and appearing nervous. In the book there are probably two full pages of description of what he is thinking at that moment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You can argue forever about the morality/legality of what's portrayed
here. You can roll your eyes over the implausibility factor. But I'm
ready to set those aside to drink in a world of far greater simplicity
and time for reflection. Simplicity and reflection are anathema for a
teenager of today, but Summer of '42 suggests they could use more of
The combination of Mr Raucher's book and this movie re-creates a societal atmosphere that characterized American life for 200 years and was swept away in a couple of decades. Our lives today are never off the hook. From childhood to senescence we now exist in a whirlwind of activities and communications that go 24/7/365. There are more texts than we can answer, more entertainment than we can experience and more responsibilities than we can meet.
Hermie and his friends travel in a sphere that is hard to imagine for anyone under the age of 70. No television, far fewer phones, slow transportation. No computers, microwaves, air-conditioning, video games. The city streets weren't chock-a-block with McDonald's and the residential streets weren't jammed with McMansions. What they did have was time. And if you were young, you had lots and lots of time to be filled in on your own.
Hermie thinks a lot about a lot of things. He doesn't have much help to sort out the details of his adolescent angst and confusion, but he doesn't have many distractions either. He's experiencing the same pain and fear of growing up as we all do, but he's got the freedom and space to work through them at his own pace. He's very troubled and uncertain but he's not getting blasted with imagery and information that has little connection with the real world he is going to be facing.
Summer of '42 is schmaltzy, even cheesy, but to imagine a time when a quiet empty field, forest or beach was the norm rather than the exception is an experience to savor.
Ha!It was the best of times it was the worst of times? Dick Clark had not yet invented teenagers.This is about discovering love and death. It waits for all. In our expectations, secrets, fears ...and our romantic sense of self. Self image when none was present. A film that will catch you up with every baby boomer from the greatest to the least.
Hats off to writer Raucher and crew. They've managed to overcome a lack
of plot, action, and pizazz with a coming-of-age movie that's about as
sensitively told and captivating as any on record. Those coastal vistas
and wooden structures reach near poetic levels of time past. Having
been young in the late 1940's, there's a lot of nostalgia in the radio
programming and ads of the time. And I can certainly testify to the
restrictive sexual norms of the period. Going into a drugstore and
risking a dressing down was like a rite of passage for many teenage
boys. Otherwise, hope lay in some obliging gas station with a coin
operated dispenser in the men's room.
Grimes really registers as the sexually naïve Hermie, while O'Neill shines as any boy's dream girl. For Hermie, conflicting signals from his hormones, buddies, and society have left him achingly confused. (Here actor Grimes's subtle staring into the distance speaks volumes.) But instead of Hermie easing his way along with the plain-faced Aggie, he's obsessed with an older woman, Dorothy (O'Neill). Trouble is she's already emotionally wedded to her overseas army boyfriend. So he pines at the same time he manages a helpful relationship with her at her seaside cabin. Just what he's hoping for, we can't be sure. On top of that, his two buddies are no help to his dilemma. Seldom have older movies conveyed the foolish antics of teenage boys as effectively as this, as they push each other around both physically and mentally. More importantly, it's a realistic background on which to frame Hermie's sensitive instincts. At the same time, kudos should go to Houser and Conant as Hermie's unhelpful buddies.
I guess my only reservation's with the seduction scene. I can't figure out Dorothy's motivation coming on top of the heart-wrenching telegram. I would think sex with another guy would be furthest from her mind. But there we are. Maybe if they'd had her tipsy drunk that would have helped. But that would also have compromised the ambiguity of her act. Is she just using Hermie as a comfort object; is she tenderly inducting him into adulthood in a selfless act; or is she just escaping anguish in any way she can. Perhaps it's a mix of them all in some kind of foggy way. But, since the story's factually based, we have to assume the circumstances really happened in some private manner.
(Several minor points- Judging from poor plain Aggie, there's likely a story behind her dilemma as touching as Hermie's. Dorothy's long straight 1970's hair style is definitely not 1940's. Women coiffed their hair in those days. Note that the iconic old movies referenced are all Warner Bros. 40's features. Not surprising since this production is from the same studio.)
Anyway, the film remains a superbly wrought remembrance of a time gone by, as poignantly relevant now as it was then. A big salute to all involved.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As we get more and more past the WW2 generation, this film will become
a forgotten piece of trivia. It was popular when it was released
because of the memories of a time past were still fresh. In reality
this one is aging for some very distinct reasons.
It represents the apex of Jennifer O'Neill's career. It is without a doubt her best role. The rest of her career has been a futile pursuit of another role it's equal. So far that has never happened.
This one represented every teenage boys dream when lots of baby boomer's were teens. Attractive woman in early 20's, desperate for attention, offers herself to a 15 year old boy. In this story they are 2 ships passing in the night as they only have one encounter. In the real world, this boy would be like the Energizer Bunny if he scored a beauty like this one. In fact, with this level of maturity, if he did tire of this woman, he would try and introduce his friends to her.
The film has many moments of silence, drama, and the viewer is expected to think of these moments as yearning for another age of the past which no longer happens. Everyone back during the baby boom had these types of moments. Today, with all the distractions away from this kind of stuff, there would be little in common for most folks with what happens here.
One thing this film did glorify is the older woman surrendering to the younger boys physical charms. This movie might have helped create the current generation of women school teachers who have victimized their young male students. As the memories of this film and of the greatest generation fades, I have a feeling the next generation of teachers will have more of an attraction for electronic devices than they will for young boys.
The only interest they will have in young boys will be in finding ones who can master electronic devices at a younger age. The age of romance is over, and the summer of 42 and sequel class of 44 are long ago past.
Hermie (Gary Grimes) recalls the summer of 42 on Nantucket Island when
he was 15 with his family on summer holidays. His best friends are Oscy
and Benjie. The boys are sex obsessed and Dorothy (Jennifer O'Neill) is
Hermie's biggest obsession. New bride Dorothy sends her husband off to
war leaving her alone in the beach house. He helps her carry the
grocery home. Oscy picks up three girls at the movies. Oscy chooses the
pretty blonde Miriam and leaves Hermie with the mousy Aggie. Benjie
runs off and Gloria also leaves.
I think every guy has had an Oscy in his life during that age or maybe was the Oscy of the group himself. Oscy gives a nostalgic realism feel to this memory laden movie. Dorothy is a fantasy that is understandable by all men past the teenage years. The young guys fit their roles very well. Jennifer O'Neill is pretty. I wouldn't say anybody acted exceptionally well but they all do their parts. This has the condom buying scene plus other coming-of-age standards. There is a really slow climatic scene which feels odd for the subject matter in the modern sense.
This is such a touching film. It starts out as a kind of slice of life piece with a couple teenage boys goofing around and acting more worldly than they are. They are confined to a seashore that is their restricted place for this time. One is a sensitive kid; his buddy is brash and overbearing. They discuss sex and hope to have some kind of encounters with the girls they meet during their the summer. Hermie, the sensitive one, is dragged beyond his comfort level by Oscie who is ready for anything. They meet some girls and Hermie uncomfortably tries to put moves on one of them, but it is futile. Oscie is successful in a kind of sad, unfulfilled way. Things change when Hermie sees a beautiful young wife who lives on the beach. He is taken with her. She is married to a soldier (it is World War II). He begins to help her whenever he can. She is kind and grateful. She is also not portrayed as anything sordid. She is a young woman who lives on the beach. When Hermie finds her husband has died, he experiences an adult moment. The music and the cinematography are gentle and sentimental. This is a really nice movie.
In this 1971 Warner Brothers movie, set against the Nantucket Island backdrop of WWII, the nostalgia was great, strongly taking people back to the era of the early 40's. Nantucket was very appealing in this story, the coastal waters being very refreshing as well. As for the acting, Jennifer O'Neill portrayed so well the part of the lady with whom the young teenage boy became so taken. (Gary Grimes acted so well the part of the immature boy taken with her so strongly.) Jerry Houser was definitely an immature boy. But the storyline is not original. In their adolescent years, only a small number of boys do not find themselves fantasizing about some female they come upon and, as in this case, sometimes the women are too "old" for them; Grimes was a high school boy and O'Neill was somewhere in her middle 20's. In short, an adolescent boy meets an attractive older woman, he becomes strongly infatuated with her, and neither knows nor cares how the situation will resolve itself. The ending did and did not surprise me. To recapitulate, I was impressed with the nostalgia, the color and scenery were drawing, but the storyline was mediocre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 'boys to men' concept was a prevalent theme in the media during the
70's. Perhaps because that same era was the time of my own adolescence,
or perhaps because I saw far too many Happy Days episodes that,
initially, I didn't see anything particularly novel about the story. By
the end of the film, however, my impression had changed.
At first, Hermy and Oscy seem to be nothing more than playful kids. Throughout the story, however, they repeatedly demonstrate surprising maturity that one normally expects from older, wiser men. I am referring to a sensitivity and conscientiousness beyond the feigned eloquence and other tactics they used to score with the babes. This distinction is key focal point of the story, and what separates the film from others that explore how young men cope with their growing sexual needs.
The setting is all but perfect. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor and the country was in turmoil. Sheltered on a peaceful, lonely island, however, the boys were able to continue living out their youthful fantasies, far removed from the harsh realities that MEN had to face. It was as if, for them, time itself was suspended.
****Spoiler****There has been a lot of talk about the movie's funny moments. My favorite was when Hermy and Dorothy were slow dancing, and the record stopped playing. Neither one made a move to start the record again. Instead, they continued dancing in awkward silence, as if they couldn't bear to break their tender embrace. They wanted that special moment to last forever, but it couldn't. Just as the record had to end, so did young Hermy's joyful and innocent youth and, ultimately, so does life itself.
Facing these realities is what truly defined the moment when Hermy became a man, distinguishing himself from his best friend Oscy. From the beginning, Oscy was more knowledgeable and successful than Hermy in matters of sex, but by the story's end Oscy still could not look beyond yet another sexual conquest to see the painful heartbreak that comes with 'true' love.
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 the 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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