A Summer Place – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Delmer Daves

Richard Egan….Ken Jorgenson
Dorothy McGuire….Sylvia Hunter
Sandra Dee….Molly Jorgenson
Arthur Kennedy….Bart Hunter
Troy Donahue….Johnny Hunter
Constance Ford….Helen Jorgenson

Warner Home Video presents A Summer Place. Screenplay by Delmer Daves. Running time: 130 minutes. Unrated. Theatrical release Nov. 18, 1959. DVD released Feb. 6, 2007.

The Movie

Before Frankie and Annette hit the waves, Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee brought moviegoers to the coast. Instead of frolicking in the California surf of Muscle Beach Party, A Summer Place is located at Pine Island, Maine. No white sand and blue surf for these teens. Troy and Sandra’s relationship thrives amongst the craggy rocks and bone-chilling white caps. The non-tropical location works since this is not merely a fun in the sun teen musical. This is an adult drama about the damages of forbidden love. Their hearts are like the boats that smash against the unrelenting shoreline.

The Hunter family are a pack of blue bloods that run a resort house with an ocean view. The patriarch, Bart Hunter, is a major prick. His snotty nature isn’t shared by his wife and son. A former lifeguard at the resort, Ken Jorgenson, is returning as a paying guest. He’s struck it rich with his business ventures. Even though Ken’s rolling in dough, Bart still thinks he’s a low class working stiff. When Ken pulls his massive yacht to the resort’s dock, Bart picks apart his guest’s outfit. The man hates the nouveau riche. Bart’s son, Johnny, eyeballs and picks apart Ken’s daughter, Molly, but for a different reason.

Johnny has the hots for the cute little blonde. She doesn’t mind getting close to him. What else do you expect them to do since their body heat will keep them warmer than the Maine Summer sun? Neither set of parents are cool to this blossoming romance. The teens aren’t the only ones having forbidden love action at the resort. It turns out that Ken and Bart’s wife, Sylvia, had a taboo time all those summers ago. Back then he couldn’t truly give her what she needed because he was a poor kid working his way through school. She inspired him to become a captain of industry. Now he wants her to run away with him. He’s ready to dump his wife to fulfill his youthful lust. The last thing he wants is for his daughter to be sleeping with is future step-son. These are two families auditioning for The Jerry Springer Show.

The biggest thing to come out of this movie is Max Steiner’s “A Summer Place” theme. It’s such a tender and wistful melody. It harkens us back to a simple time. Although after watching the film, you should realize that time wasn’t so simple. It’s the accompaniment to a scandal. This a movie about two families meeting and being devastated. A Summer Place plays like a great beach novel with unbridled passions and seething anger. Because this film was made in the late ’50s, there’s not as much tawdriness on the screen. Only passionate smooching is allowed. This is a big beautiful cheese festival with everyone going over the top in their reactions. Like Valley of the Dolls, A Summer Place is the type of movie best appreciated by middle aged women and lovers of Hollywood kitsch.


The picture is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer is far from a frame by frame restoration. There are occasional specks, but doesn’t get too messy. The colors have that warm Technicolor glow.

The soundtrack is Dolby Digital Mono in English, French and Spanish. They’ve cleaned up the audio better than the picture. The levels are good. There weren’t any nasty pops or drop offs. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.

Trailer (2:50) pretty much tells the entire plot of the film.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for A Summer Place
(OUT OF 10)






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