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Summertime (The Criterion Collection)

163 customer reviews

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(Sep 09, 1998)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

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.

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initial outrage at the idea that illicit love is part of her impossibly beautiful surroundings may at first seem outdated, but the Academy Award-winning actress is too good not to suggest as well the poignant, deep fear her character has of opening up emotionally to anybody.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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Isa Miranda, Darren McGavin, Mari Aldon
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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 (163 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305094934
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,101 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Summertime (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Rowan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By R. Geatz on 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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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Charles Reichenthal on 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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: DVD
The film to DVD transfer of "Summertime" is gorgeous and looks as close to a Technicolor print as one could possibly expect. Unfortunately the splendor is spoiled by digital errors which cause playback of the disk to freeze for a second or two at several places throughout the film. I've had two copies of the DVD and played them on several machines with the same problem recurring in the exact same parts of the film. If these could be corrected, and the sound put in sync with the film this would be a phenomenal presentation indeed.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Marc Lucas on May 11, 2000
Format: DVD
I have watched this magical bittersweet movie at least 25 times. And it only gets better every time. Katharine Hepburn is just superb as the spinster who finally makes a much anticipated trip to Venice, Italy. 'Everything' about this delightful film creates the ultimate escape for the true romantic viewer. The scenery of Venice, filmed in 1955, is breathtaking. Katharine is at her very best and Rossano is perfect as the married Italian man she reluctantly but helplessly falls in love with. The symbolism expressed throughout the film is sweet, sad and haunting. The little boy she befriends is adorable, and the almost ever present theme song quickly becomes, "One of your favorites"... I cannot recommend this charming, captivating and heart-warming film enough!
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