Summertime

A part of this view­ing list: Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Spine #22: David Lean’s Sum­mer­time.

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I didn’t like this movie. Sure, David Lean, sure Katharine Hep­burn, sure Tech­ni­col­or, sure bor­ing. I think this is one of those films that doesn’t age well in terms of its acces­si­bil­i­ty to audi­ences. It plays pitch-per­fect to pre-sex­u­al rev­o­lu­tion moral­i­ty for the vast major­i­ty of the film; at times there are star­tling moments. The word sex is said! In 1955! And the lais­sez faire extra-mar­i­tal affair is also a bit strik­ing for the time. Per­haps there is a bit of pre­science to the film in this regard. How­ev­er, Hepburn’s char­ac­ter, Jane Hud­son is a prob­a­bly-vir­ginal spin­ster in her late 40s who has come to Venice, some­what sub­con­scious­ly, look­ing for a fling. She finds one, but her Akron, Ohio bred pru­di­ty, repres­sion of desire, and defen­sive­ness keep her from giv­ing in for quite a while. The first 40 min­utes or so of the film are filled with her look­ing alter­na­tive­ly wist­ful and fright­ened. There real­ly isn’t much plot apart from the sought-after gold­en year’s sex romp, although there is a tiny bit of pathos at the end when she must leave her Venet­ian shop­keep­er while she still can.

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Lean’s direc­tion appears to illus­trate an inde­ci­sion in regard to what kind of film he is mak­ing. Much of the film func­tions as a trav­el­ogue, almost too touristy, and some of the shots are delib­er­ate­ly filmed to reflect what Hep­burn is chron­i­cling on her lit­tle 8mm [that appar­ent­ly works in Tech­ni­col­or!]. Then there are bits of slap­stick with Hepburn’s char­ac­ter, she’s not good at com­e­dy, her mishaps all seem con­trived to be more about Hep­burn doing com­e­dy excla­ma­tion point, than inte­gral parts of the film. The romance seems to have the most focus, but apart from one awe­some scene where the Ital­ian dude scolds Hep­burn for being prude, it isn’t very roman­tic. It prob­a­bly seems so very roman­tic for Hepburn’s char­ac­ter though, since she’s so inex­pe­ri­enced. The dra­mat­ic episodes are pret­ty facile, too. All in all it seems like the whole pro­duc­tion was just hav­ing a good time film­ing in Venice and wasn’t too con­cerned with film­ing in Venice. The film is extra­or­di­nary in this regard. Tech­ni­col­or was well suit­ed as an homage to the city of Venice. Too bad the sto­ry itself wasn’t.

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