Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn), a single, middle-aged elementary school secretary from Akron, Ohio finally ventures to Venice after years of saving and dreaming. While there she meets an American couple from the mid-west, an Italian widow running the hotel where she's staying and an American artist and his wife. Alone in an unfamiliar city she befriends a small boy who guides her around Venice until she meets a charming shop owner and for the first time begins to feel the pangs of love.
Director: David Lean
Producers: Alexander Korda, Ilya Lopert, Norman Spencer
Writers: H.E. Bates, David Lean, Donald Ogden Stewart; based on a play by Arthur Laurents
Original Music: Alessandro Cicognini
Cinematography: Jack Hildyard
Film Editing: Peter Taylor
Production Design: Vincent Korda
Assistant Directors: Alberto Cardone, Adrian Pryce-Jones
Sound Editors: Winston Ryder, Jacqueline Thiédot
Cast: Katharine Hepburn (Jane Hudson), Rossano Brazzi (Renato de Rossi), Isa Miranda (Signora Fiorini), Darren McGavin (Eddie Yaeger), Mari Aldon (Phyl Yaeger), Jane Rose (Mrs. McIlhenny), MacDonald Parke (Mr. McIlhenny), Jeremy Spenser (Vito de Rossi), Gaetano Autiero (Mauro), Virginia Simeon (Giovanna)
Why SUMMERTIME is Essential
(aka Summer Madness
, UK) began its life on the stage under the name The Time of the Cuckoo
, written by Arthur Laurents for the great actress Shirley Booth. Booth won a Tony Award for her performance but two years later, when the time came to adapt it for the screen, she was considered too old and Katharine Hepburn, nine years her junior, got the part. David Lean was brought on to direct and everything was to be done on location.
Location shooting, though becoming more common, was still something less likely to happen than filming on a soundstage. However, with David Lean directing, Summertime
's Venice would become a character in and of itself which no soundstage could possibly imitate. According to Michael Korda, nephew of Alexander Korda, in his biography, Charmed Lives
, "David Lean was bent on filming Summertime
entirely on location in Venice, where the story takes place. Alexander Korda, the executive producer, and Ilya Lopert, the producer, agreed with him. Furthermore, United Artists, with which Lopert's American distribution company, Lopert Films, was affiliated, had provided major funding for the production, and it too went along with the decision to film in Italy." The result is not just a beautiful film in story and character but on purely visual terms as well. The city is generously photographed and displayed throughout. Moviegoers in 1955 got to experience Venice as they never had before and many for the first time.
Lean himself fell in love with Venice and eventually set up a second home there. Despite the great successes of his later epics, both financially and critically, he remembered Summertime
as his favorite film.
is also essential for its frank meditation on middle aged sexual relationships. Even in 1955, censorship boards carried weight and Summertime
's plot of a single, middle-aged woman sleeping with a married man was groundbreaking. Not only are affairs (more than just one) the subject of the movie but no one is punished for their sexual indiscretions. In fact, happiness is found in the physical attraction between two lonely people. Lean had covered some of this territory before in his seminal work, Brief Encounter
(1945, both films, coincidentally, begin and end in train stations), but in that one, almost ten years prior, the relationship was ended with the woman (Celia Johnson) suicidal and returning, repentant, to her husband. Summertime
had no such concerns. Times had changed.
received Oscar® nominations for Best Actress for Katharine Hepburn and Best Director for David Lean. It also received BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nominations for Best Film from any Source and Best Foreign Actress for Katharine Hepburn. It won the New York Film Critics Circle Award of 1955 for Best Director for David Lean.
by Greg Ferrara