Top positive review
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Summer of '42 is a timeless, haunting love story........
on January 5, 2004
It is the summer after Pearl Harbor. The world is at war, and America is sending her best, strongest and healthiest men to fight overseas. Meanwhile, those too young, old, or physically disabled to serve stay behind, as well as wives and sweethearts. Among these are Hermie, Oscy, and Benjie (Gary Grimes, Jerry Houser and Oliver Conant). Together, this "terrible trio" raids the Coast Guard station, frolics on the beach on Packett Island, and sneaks looks at "dirty pictures" from a medical book.
But even as the three friends goof around on lazy summer days, the war's effects will soon touch the more serious and sensitive 15-year-old Hermie. He finds himself falling in love with the beautiful Dorothy (Jennifer O'Neill), who is seven years older and married. He worships her from afar, enduring both his friends' merciless teasing and his own confusion about his feelings.
But when Dorothy's husband Pete goes overseas to enter the fray, Hermie befriends Dorothy, helping her with chores such as carrying her groceries to her house on the beach and placing boxes in the attic.
At the same time, the more rambunctious Oscy (and Hermie's best friend) is trying very hard to pick up girls and lose his virginity, and he makes it his mission in life to help Hermie do the same. So he copies information from a medical book that Benjie says "belongs to the house" where he spends the summer. Oscy also attempts to set up a date for the "terrible trio" at the movies, but that almost falls apart when Benjie and the third girl don't want to go. I don't want to give away what happens next, but it's pretty funny.
But the heart of the movie revolves, as many reviewers have said, around Hermie's love for Dorothy, and how he comes to manhood unexpectedly when Dorothy finds out that her husband has been killed in action. It's a beautiful, discreet and bittersweet sequence, and will leave the viewer with indelible memories of a haunting, timeless experience.
I like Summer of '42 because it is sweet and gentle, hilarious at times, and always very touching. Michel Legrand's Oscar-winning score is simple yet evocative, and Herman Raucher's screenplay was later adapted by the writer into a best selling novel. I recommend this film to young and old alike as a fine example of what a coming-of-age movie should be like.