HTF REVIEW: "Summer of '42"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 6, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Summer of '42

    This is another one of those moments where
    I had the opportunity to review a DVD that
    I would probably have passed up otherwise and
    walked away with such an appreciation for what
    I had just watched. Something old has been made
    new again.
    As I sat and watched Summer of '42, I
    couldn't help but think that this movie could
    perhaps be a autobiographic staple for just
    about any boy who has grown from boyhood into
    manhood. All of us can remember our first
    infatuation with an older woman or our first
    nervous visit to the drugstore to buy a condom.
    This movie takes those moments and turns them
    into a story that is nearly poetic.
    The story is of three teenage friends, Hermy
    (Gary Grimes), Oscy (Jerry Houser) and Benjie
    (Oliver Conant) who live on a Summer Island beach
    at a time when the nation is caught up in war.
    15-year-old Hermie is infatuated with 22-year-old
    Dorothy (Jennifer O'Neill), whose husband has left
    for the war. What ensues is the story of what
    happened to those boys that Summer -- a summer that
    will change one of them forever.
    For anyone that has not yet seen this film, I'll
    do my best not to give away the ending. All I can
    say is that I was held breathless by the film's most
    climatic moment, beautifully done with only the sound
    of a phonograph needle and crashing ocean waves in
    the distance. It's one of the most tender moments I
    have ever seen on screen.
    How is the transfer?
    The film is presented in a "matted" widescreen
    It's very difficult to say exactly how good
    this transfer is. Filmed entirely in the softest
    focus I have ever seen, the entire movie looks
    like one long dream sequence. I completely
    understand that this was probably the Director's
    intent to capture the essence of the period. The
    problem is, however, video looks somewhat grainy
    and there is sometimes a noticeable halo effect
    surrounding the actors. I would rather put the
    blame on the way the movie was filmed rather than
    Warner Brothers who has been doing rather exceptional
    transfers with recent catalog product. At the very
    least, the print is generally clean.
    The film's audio is MONO and sounds very strong
    across the front two speakers. Sometimes the dialogue
    comes across a bit "tinny" compared to the beautiful
    background score by Michel Legrand.
    Final Thoughts
    Whether you decide to purchase this film will
    most likely be based upon having seen it before
    and its lasting memories. It certainly ranks as
    one of the better coming-of-age stories, but alas,
    seems more dated.
    This is certainly worth a rental and who knows,
    it may eventually become a part of your permanent
    Release Date: NOW
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Damn, I'm getting old, I was 15 when this flick came out![​IMG]
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    I want this one big time. That "halo" effect, though: I remember this film being softly focused, but not quite so severely. But, hey, that was years (decades) ago. Memory's not that reliable after so long.
  4. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Dec 19, 1998
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    I've never seen a film that more perfectly captured the feelings experienced by an adolescent male as he awkwardly tries to deal with the sexual mystery, wonder, and terrifying power of women, and that first woman in particular...
  5. Roger Mathus

    Roger Mathus Supporting Actor

    Sep 1, 1997
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    Central Oregon
    Real Name:
    Roger Mathus
    I also am old enought to have seen this film when it was released. It is one of the few I vividly remember from that era. As I also recall, it was filmed very atmospherely but somehow the Warner DVD looks much worst than I expected. Is Warner giving the same treatment to these bargain multi-region releases as with more prominent catalog titles?

    Anyway, I am glad to have this memorable movie on DVD. I think that Ron has hit exactly on why it has such an impact.

    I have many personal memories of the awakening years.
  6. Brian O

    Brian O Second Unit

    Apr 27, 1999
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    Ron -

    Was this your first viewing of this film? It sounded like it might be.

    I saw this back in the early 70s. I was in my early teens and it really hit a chord. I hadnt seen it in years until the last year on TV, and once again, it struck home. Very funny, poignant moments in this movie. I would think most people would enjoy this movie quite a bit.

    Why did it seemed dated to you, especially being a period piece from the '40s. It seemed to capture what I envisioned the '40s to be like at that age. Sure, it is much more innocent than an American Pie, but I thought it captured the ideals of the early '40s very well.
  7. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

    Jun 5, 2000
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    Knocksville, TN
    Real Name:
    Rachael Bellomy
    I watched SUMMER OF 42 last night. This isn't Warner Brothers' best effort. There were 3 spots where the pic got very grainey momentarily. And, I mean grainey! The sound left alot to be desired. I don't have analog outputs hooked up to my DVD player. I wish I did. I would of tried them to see if the 1.0 soundtrack sounded any better. The dialog was clear enough when I turned it up alot. The beautiful theame music sounded dull and muted.
    This music won an Academy Award. The old LD sounds better and I always thought it was weak. I put it on momentarily to confirm this. The theame sounded magnificent in the theatre. I stille remember how moving it was. Every easy listenig band in the country covered the tune too, acts like Peter Nero, ect....
    Despite all this, this is a great movie and should be viewed! The older woman and young boy, forbidden love scene attracted beaucops of criticism from the right during it's theatrical run. The attention just helped the film in the end. I mean, it's not like the film "promotes" such conduct.
    The film came out during the Vietnam War and I think that really helped it at the time. It gave perspective to the heartbreak and damaging consequences of war. We could imagine something similar happening in the present. In fact, I personally knew of a very similar love affair that a Nam war widow had with a boy I knew. It lasted about a week longer than the film's one night affair.
    See this film but be warned it ain't reference material. I wish Warner would of put a little more effort into this personal fav!
  8. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

    May 19, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Bob Lindstrom

    "As I sat and watched Summer of '42, I

    couldn't help but think that this movie could

    be the autobiographic staple for just about any

    boy who has grown from boyhood into manhood."


    Yeah, I know what you mean, Ron. When I was in high school that damned Jennifer O'Neill just wouldn't keep her hands off me.
  9. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    I'm afraid to watch this movie again for fear of getting that haunting theme music stuck in my head! Great movie.
  10. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

    Sep 3, 1999
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    This movie is truly a classic. It's a shame WB couldn't give us a better transfer. I used to play softball with Jerry Houser every Sunday (he is good friend of my 2nd cousin) and he would occasionally talk about Summer of '42.

    Wouldn't it be cool if I could get him over to my house to do a personal commentary during the showing of the dvd?

    I'm going to have to attempt that for a future meet and make sure we get it on tape!
  11. Brian O

    Brian O Second Unit

    Apr 27, 1999
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    I finally found the DVD locally at a new Borders. I got their one and only copy for $15.
    The video is definately a soft focus but the movie was filmed that way, kind of a "dream state" for much of it. There was noticable grain on some scenes too.
    The DD 1.0 is quite shallow, but on my Denon 3300 I choose the stereo option and it was much fuller between my two main speakers instead of Center channel only. I recommend trying that.
    I recently on ESPN latenight radio heard an interview with Jerry Houser. It was primarily about Slapshot though. Nothing was said about Summer of '42. I would like to hear details about this movie.
    I cant think of anyone else in Hermie's role other than Gary Grimes. He really did a great job for the most part. A little overacting here and there but very solid in the tender moments and comedic ones too. He was looked on as a very promising actor following this role, but he didnt seem to work a whole lot after it.
    The sequel, Summer of '44, just didnt seem to have the same appeal to me from what I remember. Maybe because it was just missing Jennifer O'Neil.[​IMG]
  12. Gavin_L

    Gavin_L Second Unit

    Aug 24, 2001
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    thanks ron for that wonderful review. I recieved my copy that i ordered from amazon this week. I have never seen this film up intill wed night. I was looking forward to this movie. I've seen in other reviews, of how this movie was successful on many different levels. i really liked this film a lot and glad i bought it and added it to my collection. I really thought the cinematography in the film was beautiful and the artistic feature of how it was filmed made the movie much more real of taking it back to the 40's. The director did a wonderful job bring the world to life. The plot was another plus too, thought it was pretty well done, there were parts that were funny such as the condom buying experience but also some sad parts too. but i thought it was a pretty well written script that came from the book. The score was beautiful, but mysterious at times which made the movie even better. I can see why this movie got some oscars noms. I've seen other films of coming of age, but this movie did a truly great job of making all the points of cinema come together. For some reason coming of age films touch me, because at one time i was there. maybe not the same story, but still has some universal things that happens to a lot of boys. One of my other favorite movies was stealing home, another coming of age drama, i thought it was good flick. but anyways glad i found this film and took the time to sit down and watch it, it was worth the almost 2 hours and was successful of pulling me into a different time.

    a question that i have, i was looking at some info on yesterday and found out there was a sequal to this film, called class of '44, its suppose to take place at college a few years later, did anyone ever see it? was it good?

    does anyone else know any other good coming of age films?

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