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Summertime (The Criterion Collection) (1955)

Katharine Hepburn , Rossano Brazzi , David Lean  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

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Summertime (The Criterion Collection) + Three Coins In the Fountain + Roman Holiday
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Product Details

  • Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Isa Miranda, Darren McGavin, Mari Aldon
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 1998
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305094934
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,211 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Summertime (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

There was a time before Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago when David Lean made smaller, more effortlessly picturesque movies, and this splendid Venetian travelogue and love story is one of them--the last, actually, before the epic onslaught started with the Oscar-winning The Bridge on the River Kwai in 1957. "Sometimes I think a schedule in Venice is just, well, all wrong," observes a bewitched tourist to Katharine Hepburn's vacationing spinster near the beginning of Summertime, which is based on Arthur Laurents's play The Time of the Cuckoo. Before the end, however, Jane will have thrown her idealized romantic notions into the canals and embarked on a passionate affair with a married art dealer (Rossano Brazzi). More blissful than Lean's adulterous fable Brief Encounter 10 years prior, but not entirely guilt- or pain-free, this deceptively simple romance is an often-fascinating glimpse at a time when sexual revolution for Americans--and especially middle-aged women--was confined to fanciful European trysts. Plus, with all the architecture, art, Italian conversation, music, and fine cuisine around you (all richly photographed on location by Jack Hildyard), who's to pish-posh a furtive all-nighter between one repressive country and a free-loving one? The two leads are graceful and even musical in their movements and line deliveries. Hepburn's initial outrage at the idea that illicit love is part of her impossibly beautiful surroundings may at first seem outdated, but the Academy Award-winning actress is too good not to suggest as well the poignant, deep fear her character has of opening up emotionally to anybody. Ultimately, Summertime is the movie equivalent of a deep, satisfying sigh. --Robert Abele

Product Description

An American spinster's dream of romance finally becomes a bittersweet reality when she meets a handsome-but married-Italian man while vacationing in Venice. Katharine Hepburn's sensitive portrayal of the lonely heroine and Jack Hildyard's glorious Technicolor® photography make Summertime an endearing and visually enchanting film.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect summer romance January 4, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Summertime pairs Hepburn with Italian hunk Rossano Brazzi in a delicious, sad, funny and ultimately very adult film about a Plain Jane who finds romance in Venice. Hepburn is a joy to watch here as she gets to show so many facets of her character. Jane Hudson is socially self-assured; she has a funny quip for every occasion and she's not afraid to speak her mind; she really is the quintessential American spinster of the early 20th century. She has a romantic side that longs for moonlight trysts in a gondola, dancing at midnight, and coffee and small-talk with her lover in a sidewalk café, but there's an element of prudishness which holds her back from a love affair with a married Venetian who assures her that he and his wife have an "understanding." Ultimately Jane recognizes that she's not likely to get her dream of love intact and that she'd be a fool not to take the one on offer, and she blossoms into the happy, loving, passionate woman she (and the viewer) always suspected she could be.
Brazzi as Renato is earnest and handsome, and while he's no great shakes as an actor, he does persuade us. After all, we want to be persuaded, don't we? Just like Jane Hudson, we want to believe that even after half a lifetime of loneliness and disappointment, love is possible. There are some nice supporting roles here, particularly a young Darrin McGavin as a self-involved artist, and Mari Aldon as his trophy wife who isn't quite as dumb as she first seems. There are a few bits of business that seem forced, such as the loud, insensitive American tourists - perhaps this sort of characterization has become so clichéd that what was new in 1955 seems awkward and heavy-handed now - and Jane's friendship with a street urchin who cadges cigarettes from her.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful 50s time-trip to Venice July 6, 1999
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Venice has never been more beautiful; Katherine Hepburn has never been more poignant, and Rosanno Brazzi has never been sexier. And this DVD version of the film captures the Techni-colors in ways they've not been seen since the film was released in the mid-50s. What's surprising about seeing the film today (for anyone with a knowledge of where screen morals were in the 50s) is the fact that it deals with adultery in a way that was rarely seen in its time. Spinster Hepburn goes off to romantic Venice, sort-of-but-not-quite looking for love, and when she finds it, it's with a middle-aged, married man. While she doesn't "get the guy" in the end, she isn't "punished for her transgression" either. It seems a miracle that the Church allowed such a movie to be made in the 50s--and in Italy no less. Watch this in a double bill with "Roman Holiday" and you'll be booking a flight to Italy before the end credits finish rolling.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Hepburn ? Possibly !! October 3, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
SUMMERTIMEis the film version of the hit Shirley Booth Broadway success "Time of the Cuckoo" and it later would be the basis for Richard Rodgers & Stephen Sondheim's "Do I Hear a Waltz?" Obviously, there is substantial reason for the longevity of a simple romantic plot in a remarkably romantic setting. It simply works, but David Lean's film version works the best of all. Never has Venice been captured on screen as well, and, certainly, never as effectively as a "character" in a lovely tale that is made perfect for even the most anti-romantic audiences by the superlative, career topping work of Katharine Hepburn as a spinster who discovers "true love" with an unacceptable partner during her Venice vacation. The color is absolutely perfect; the music is splendid; everything works. The cast rises to Hepburnian heights -- including Rossano Brazzi, Mari Aldon, Isa Miranda, Darren McGavin, and an adorable youngster. Key scenes are everywhere, but who will ever forget Hepburn and the Canal....!! A lovely movie that deserves its perennial popularity.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I only recently finished reading John Berendt's wonderful book on Venice, "The City of Falling Angels." I was so inspired that I hauled out my video of "Summertime" just to see Venice in the background. Imagine my horror when I put that video in the player and found that it had degraded considerably. Still I watched. Based on the Arthur Laurents play "The Time of the Cuckoo," the film has lost none of its power, and remains one of the major achievements of both David Lean and Katharine Hepburn (which is REALLY saying something).

A few weeks later my special friend Patty surprised me with this DVD. Even though I had only just watched the film, I couldn't wait to see how it would look on DVD. UNBELIEVABLE - what an incredible difference. The photography of Jack Hildyard is absolutely stunning! As is the case with most of Lean's films, the composition of each shot is a work of art unto itself, with "Summertime" that is especially true. Venice has rarely, if ever, been filmed this effectively.

I couldn't find a false note in this entire film. Hepburn is luminous. In one scene after another Hepburn brings this lonely lady to life. I am haunted by the figure of Hepburn at dawn, standing in a gondola, waving goodnight to her lover. The scene where she first enters the Piazza San Marco is breathtaking. I can barely hold myself together as she sits in the Piazza taking her coffee alone, hoping that Rossano Brazzi will appear. Suddenly he's there, but withdraws without joining her. In her folly she has made it appear that she is not alone. I thought my heart might break. Her face conveys a myriad of emotions all at once (she REALLY should have won the Oscar for her work here). The eventual romance, the inevitable parting, Brazzi running down the train platform with that single white gardenia.....oh, I get choked up just writing about it. This is simply one of the greatest love stories ever filmed. Don't miss it - whatever you do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite David Lean Production
This movie is as wonderful as the beautiful Venice settings. It is enchanting and classic. I am NOT a big Kate Hepburn fan but this is my favorite movie of hers and she is... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Terry D. Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Scenery, Appropriate Portrayal of Venice
I really loved this movie, even with its sad ending. I saw it just before visiting Venice myself and have seen it, again, since my return. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Travel LAB
4.0 out of 5 stars Love in Venice
Katharine Hepburn is at her most vulnerable here (excepting only, maybe, her performance in Rainmaker). The Italian actor is surprisingly modern as the timeless European seducer.
Published 1 month ago by craigwasson
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate Hepburn at her best!
I just love this film! It's so sweet and heart-warming. It's very 1950's too in the portrayal of a woman of a certain age falling in love with a married man but I still love this... Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Healy
3.0 out of 5 stars Hepburn playing Hepburn
A sweet Italian movie about adultery. But really, how can that be sweet. It just seems sweet but is it? He was married. Children, the whole nine yards. She did not care. Read more
Published 4 months ago by L. Baker
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Not as good as I remember from years ago... Brazzi was at the height of his virility; Hepburn had little chemistry with him
Published 4 months ago by Connie L. Eakes
5.0 out of 5 stars Venetian Classic
Hepburn was fantastic with all the 1950s camp and drama you would want with the magnificently filmed city of Venice for a backdrop.
Published 6 months ago by S. Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorite films
One of the most romantic stories of all time.

Love can come to anyone.

Compares to my other all time favorite "Love is a Many Splendored Thing"... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Carol Bledsoe
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Rosanno Brazzi is one of my favorite actors, and he and Katharine Hepburn make this one that should not be missed
Published 7 months ago by msmartha
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance in Venice
This 1950's romance is a totally belieivable story of a middle aged woman who goes off to Venice in search of something missing in her life. Read more
Published 7 months ago by virginia
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