It was definitely nostalgia country when I went into the video store and took out Robert Mulligan’s ‘Summer of ’42’. This was a film that I originally watched in its original cinema release in my final school year many years ago.
Some two decades later this film still holds up strongly. For its coming of age romance genre this 1971 film is quite simply a classic.
The film tells the story of Hermie, a young American teenager on summer vacation on Nantucket island in 1942 who falls in love with Dorothy, a young married woman whose husband has left on war duty and is never to return. The film is based on the autobiograhical reminiscences growing up of writer Hermann Raucher.
So how to describe the ‘Summer of ’42’ experience?!
Ok here goes for what it is worth! It features quite exquisitely direction by Robert
Mulligan. The famous Michele Legrand score gives the film its dreamy, other world feeling.
There’s a genuine authenticity about its characters. What it is really great at was in capturing was the young boys world of Hermie and his mates, Oscar and Benjie.
The film didn’t miss a beat in this regard…the boys mulling over their parents books on sex to try and work things out…the fighting with over protective parents…the constant wrestling and squabbling with each other…the differences between the boys with Oscar being so extroverted and macho and Benji being such a dumpy kid.
It all rang so true as did the comic but also angst ridden scene when Hermie tries to purchase a box of condoms from the straightlaced local chemist who gives him a terribly hard time before he relents and gives them to him.
As did the scene when the boys take some girls to the movies and try to make out with them with mixed results.
Yes, it would be a fair description of this film to say that it was very attuned to the male psyche! And with Jennifer O’Neill as the leading lady it works like a dream!
The seduction scene at the film’s climax still gives tingles up the spine and is one of the most tender, erotic scenes ever captured on celluloid.
It does justice to the lyricism of Legrand’s wonderful score.
Wrapping up, ‘Summer of ’42’ still has classic status atleast as far as this punter goes!