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Summertime Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Summertime” is another David Lean gem. 

Based on the play “The Time Of The Cuckoo,” 1955’s “Summertime” is a romantic drama focusing on a lonely middle-aged American woman (Jane) who is taking a solo dream vacation to Venice. As she records her sightseeing adventures, the shy Jane is overcome by the fact that she is surrounded by couples. That all changes, however, when she encounters an antique store owner (Renato) whom she begins to fall for. 

Directed by David Lean (known for such classics as “Lawrence Of Arabia” and “The Bridge On The River Kwai”) and scripted by Lean and H.E. Bates, “Summertime” isn’t your typical classic movie romance. It doesn’t have a happy ending and feels a bit more mature than the “falling in love instantly” stories you so often see on screen. Sure, the romance between Jane and Renato may feel a bit underdeveloped, but Lean and Bates manage to create an impactful drama about a brief but unforgettable romance, a story of a woman discovering more from life, and an exploration of a relationship that isn’t picture perfect but rather messy. 

It goes without saying that both Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi really sell the romance through their performances. Their chemistry, their longing, their passion is felt on screen and makes up for any screenwriting shortcomings. Gaetano Autiero also deserves praise as a street kid with a big heart. Note: Keep an eye out for a young Darren McGavin in a bit part as a young artist named Eddie.

Of course, one couldn’t talk about “Summertime” without mentioning Venice itself (which is essentially a character). Thanks to the glorious Technicolor cinematography by Jack Hildyard, viewers get a dazzling look at the city’s landmarks, buildings, canals, and birds. It may not be an epic like many of Lean’s movies, but it’s certainly a visual cinematic spectacle in other ways.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration is dazzling. Both the colors and the image quality appear sharper with this new transfer. 

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? Expect a clean and lively audio experience.

* A 1963 interview with David Lean from the Canadian series “Close-Up.”
* A newly recorded interview with film historian and David Lean biographer Melanie Williams.
* 1988 audio interview excerpts with cinematographer Jack Hildyard with Alan Lawson.
* “Summertime” trailer.
* A booklet featuring credits and an essay by film critic Stephanie Zacharek


July 10, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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