Summertime (1955)

summertime poster 1955 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 9/10

Great scenery, Hepburn

Unconventional story could be pushed harder

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Summertime

Studio:  Lopert Films

Genre(s):  Romance/Drama

Release Date(s):  June 21, 1955

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

summertime katharine hepburn rossano brazzi

They meet…

Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) is living her dream. She is travelling alone to Venice for a summer and leaving her life in Akron, Ohio behind for adventure. When she meets a suave Italian named Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi), she fights the urge to allow herself to be swept off her feet. Venice has a way of changing things, and Jane finds herself in a whirlwind romance…but Jane discovers that she could be letting love tempter her judgment.

Directed by David Lean, Summertime is a romance drama. The film adapts the 1952 play The Time of the Cuckoo by Arthur Laurents. The film was well received by critics and nominated for Best Actress (Hepburn) and Best Director. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the movie (Criterion #22).

I like David Lean’s films and most of his later films had a big, epic feel. Summertime is more intimate but carries his emotional touches in the relationship between Hepburn and Brazzi. Lean always takes you somewhere with his movies and this movie lets you explore Venice in style.

summertime 1955 jane renato katharine hepburn rossano brazzi

The beauty of Italy

The story isn’t a traditional love story. Both Hepburn and Brazzi’s characters feel broken. Hepburn feels like a woman who is eager to be independent and free but still longs for the love and companionship that everyone around her seems to have. Brazzi is even more complex in that he’s had companionship, and it has broken down through the years, and it is unclear what Brazzi is searching for in Hepburn since a relationship seems unrealistic. The story has interesting contrasting couples with a couple in the prime of their lives (MacDonald Parke and Jane Rose) and a young couple who is struggling (Darren McGavin and Mari Aldon)…leaving Brazzi and Hepburn somewhere in-between.

Hepburn still excels. She feels independent and powerful, but she still is able to pull off vulnerable and timid at the same time without giving up her strength. Rossano Brazzi’s role is a little cliché in the outward appearance. He is the romantic foreigner that can turn a phrase and romance the women. Fortunately, the script makes him a bit deeper and more rounded than the typical suitor in these type of pictures, and Brazzi does utilize this.

summertime ending train katharine hepburn rossano brazzi

Running for the train and your love…when it wasn’t a cliche?

Venice is the heart and soul of the picture. In Jane’s mind, she’s romanticized the location, and Lean does his best to do it as well. The bright technicolor brings out the water and the canals and moments like the romantic evening on Burano, boasts sunsets and sea. Lean always presents locations with style and beauty.

Summertime feels like a classic romance with a very unromantic ending. The film has two characters in the wrong place at the wrong time and it feels like it could have worked out if just a few things were different. I kind of wish that this film had been continued (which of course wasn’t a trend at the time). It feels a lot like Before Sunrise which has famously been going strong over years examining how time and love change relationships…Summertime would have been ripe for this.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response