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Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973)

PG | | Drama | 30 August 1974 (Ireland)
Rita, a middle aged New York City homemaker, finds herself in an emotional crisis which forces her to re-examine her life, as well as her relationships with her mother, her eye doctor ... See full summary »


Gilbert Cates


Stewart Stern

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joanne Woodward ... Rita Walden
Martin Balsam ... Dr. Harry Walden
Sylvia Sidney ... Mrs. Pritchard - Rita's Mother
Tresa Hughes ... Betty Goody
Dori Brenner Dori Brenner ... Anna
Ron Rickards Ron Rickards ... Bobby Walden
Win Forman Win Forman ... Fred Goody
Peter Marklin Peter Marklin ... Joel
Nancy Andrews Nancy Andrews ... Mrs. Pat Hungerford (voice)
Minerva Pious Minerva Pious ... Woman in Theatre
Sol Frieder Sol Frieder ... Man in Theatre
Helen Ludlam Helen Ludlam ... Rita's Grandmother
Grant Code Grant Code ... Rita's Grandfather
Gaetano Lisi Gaetano Lisi ... Student in Theatre
Lee Jackson Lee Jackson ... Carl Hurlcutt


Rita, a middle aged New York City homemaker, finds herself in an emotional crisis which forces her to re-examine her life, as well as her relationships with her mother, her eye doctor husband, her alienated daughter and estranged son. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Beautiful. Frigid. She is called a Snow Queen. See more »




PG | See all certifications »





English | French

Release Date:

30 August 1974 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Carnival See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Features Sylvia Sidney's only Oscar nominated performance. See more »


Mrs. Pritchard - Rita's Mother: I thought I was having a heart attack.
See more »


Featured in Oscars, Actors and The Exorcist (1974) See more »


It's April Again
(Moulin Rouge)
Music by Georges Auric
French lyrics by Jacques Larue
English lyrics by William Engvick
See more »

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User Reviews

29 January 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams casts Joanne Woodward as a woman going through mid-life crisis in her forties, realizing that she's settled and not selected in her choice of husband and life.

Not that husband Martin Balsam is not a good man, he's a decent enough fellow, an optometrist and back in my parents generation such a guy would have had their mothers pushing their daughters toward him. But Joanne's true love was killed in World War II and Balsam was a guy she settled for.

What brings all her anxieties to a head is the sudden death of her mother Sylvia Sidney while both women were having an afternoon of lunch and a movie. Life seemed a lot more simple back growing up on Sylvia's Connecticut farm. With a second choice husband, a daughter Dori Brenner who's not on the best of terms, a son played by Ron Richards who is gay and living in Amsterdam with another man and only seen in dream sequences, it seems like life is closing in on her. Balsam's sees what's happening to his wife and maybe this optometrist's convention in London is a great excuse for a tax deductible European trip where maybe things can be rekindled.

This film is short on plot, but long and deep on characterization with some great women's roles for actresses who've past their ingénue days. Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams got Joanne Woodward an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and for movie veteran Sylvia Sidney for Best Supporting Actress. Joanne lost to Glenda Jackson for A Touch of Class, both of those women were going for a second Oscar and Jackson lucked out.

What was a real shame was Sylvia Sidney not winning and losing to Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon. Those supporting categories have become a really good place to honor veterans like her who have moved on to character parts. Don Ameche's award for Cocoon is a great example and I wish Sylvia had gotten this one, for her great performance here and the work of a lifetime.

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams is a poignant film. The best scenes in it are dealing with Sidney's surviving family and how Joanne wants to hold on to the family homestead when all the rest want to sell. She can't articulate to her family why she feels she could cling to her childhood as embodied in that farm, but we the audience feels what she feels, especially those of who've had a similar experience. For me it was nothing like Woodward's in the film, but I had to face selling our family home in Brooklyn in 1997. The only survivors of my family were my brother and myself and I had my pangs as Joanne did. Three family members of mine died in that same home. What she was able to convey is the mark of a great actress.

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams gives lie to the idea that they don't write some great parts for the female gender.

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