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  • Jane Hudson (Katherine Hepburn), a middle-aged American school teacher, arrives in Venice, fulfilling a lifelong dream… On her first evening, she has an encounter with Mauro, an enterprising little street child, who becomes her unofficial escort… But in the evening, while seating in a crowded café, she sees a handsome man in a gray flannel suit... Her first instinctive reaction was to oppose, pay the bill, escape, and keep out of sight...

    The next evening, she sits alone to take a drink in the Piazza San Marco, but with a wandering eye… As the violins begin playing 'Summertime in Venice', Jane would turn away in a heart beat to see Renato passing by… To hide her anxiousness, she inclines the chair next to her, pretending that she is expecting a company... Jane has come to Venice to find a handsome, unmarried hero of her dreams... But she is furious and resentful... She really can't understand what she is doing...

    The most advantageous thing about David Lean's 'Summertime' is its sensitive portrait of the loneliness that holds back the fancy secretary, a desperately single heroine whose search for romance and adventure is prevented less by cultural differences than by her own feeling defenses...

    Hepburn is a pleasant tourist with great magnetism... Rossano Brazzi is too powerful, tempting and charming as Renato, the Venetian who couldn't catch a fallen white gardenia in one of the canals of his town
  • "Summertime" is more of a mood piece than anything else. It captures the loneliness of a traveler in a foreign land, in this case a spinster who is hungry for love but too repressed to accept the love Rossano Brazzi offers. It has a bittersweet ending, appropriate for a thin story that sets the tone early on and never once makes us believe that Hepburn is going to find her true love in Venice.

    The photography is gorgeous and must have had everyone heading for the nearest travel bureau for a tour of Italy when the film was released. The performances are all excellent--but the film belongs to Hepburn. She creates one of her most moving and truthful portraits--sensitively showing us what this woman feels as she watches others pairing off for affairs, alone and unable to really connect. The sexual mores of the 1950s permeate the film--the sexual revolution was just over the horizon but not yet evident.

    One of Hepburn's most subtle, yet affecting performances. With David Lean's sensitive direction, the gorgeous photography and the evocative background music, "Summertime" will put you under the spell of its fragile romance. Easy to see why Brazzi was the ultimate continental charmer.
  • A few weeks ago, I spent a summer day in Venice and was reminded of what a beautiful, magical place it is (I'd spent a few days there on vacation previously). I remember thinking at the time that no matter how many photos I took, I would never be able to capture its essence--the twisting little alleys shielded by towering brick walls, the staggeringly lovely architecture scattered through piazzas, the feel of walking on water as gondolas drift by below you--Venice is about life, living, love. It didn't seem possible to me that all that could ever be effectively captured on film.

    In filming SUMMERTIME, David Lean has come as close as anyone ever will to capturing the feel and atmosphere of the magical city. While watching the film for the first time, I felt almost as if I were walking through the streets of Venice myself, all the colour and noise and beauty intact. All the little things were there, the places visited, the things done (taking a water bus, or washing one's face in the springs to keep cool)... It helps that I can recognise the monuments from personal experience, of course, but the photography is so lush, and the attention to detail so great (there is one scene of several set in the Piazza San Marco in which an entire flock of pigeons take wing in the background--it is so breathtaking that one feels it must have been choreographed) that you really are taking Jane Hudson's journey with her. That, for a moment that lasts through the film, you are part of that world, part of David Lean's Venice. I only wish I had the opportunity to see this film on the big screen, to be able to experience the cinematography the way it was meant to be experienced.

    The plot of the film is itself somewhat weak. Katharine Hepburn plays a lonely spinster, Jane Hudson, who has saved and saved all her life to finally make her dream trip come true. It turns out to be a dream trip in more ways than one, for she soon meets and falls in love with Renato di Rossi (Rossano Brazzi), a married shopkeeper with several children. They share a few dizzying, intimate days together, but Jane eventually has to make a choice between her heart and her mind.

    A great part of the film is involved in setting up Jane as a desperately lonely figure, and therefore the love affair itself, though sweet, feels rushed through. (When intimacy *is* created, however, it is startlingly touching. Take for example the scene on the island of Burado, or when Renato buys Jane her first flower.) What makes the romance more tangible and believable to the viewer is the skill of the performers involved--you truly hurt from the aching loneliness Katharine Hepburn sneaks into every corner of her Jane Hudson, from the way she holds herself when she sits, to the slightly pained eyes and tightly crossed arms--her defences when she realises how alone she really is, even amidst the noise and bustle of the city. You feel sorry for her when she pretends that she is waiting for someone, positioning the chair just so and placing her own coffee before it, just to not appear entirely pathetic to her friends from the Penzione Fiorini. Hepburn manages to pull this off while also infusing Jane with an almost child-like desire to find a little magic for herself, a miracle in the form of a summer romance.

    Rossano Brazzi too is excellent at walking that fine line between charm and smarm, because you never really know whether his intentions towards Jane are good or not-largely due to the revelation regarding his status as a family man. Perhaps for this reason the romance between Jane and Renato seems a bit forced for the purposes of finishing the tale David Lean set out to tell, but there is to be no denying that Hepburn and Brazzi do have great chemistry together.

    SUMMERTIME isn't the kind of movie you'd recommend to *all* of your friends and constantly badger them until they've seen it and can talk to you about it. It's the kind of film you tell a select few people about, people you feel will appreciate it and understand it, and will connect with it like you do. That, perhaps, is its own special little magic.
  • harry-765 April 2000
    The mood is leisurly, the pace deliberate, and the look of Venice is shimmering and magical. This "brief encounter" of an American spinster on vacation falling for a married, though separated, man is David Lean as his best. It is also one of Katherine Hepburn's lovely performances. Having read about production problems with this film, it became all the more remarkable to watch. To name a few, Hepburn suffered severe eye damage from her spill in the stagnant canal (in a remarkable shot without use of a double) and the stench from the waters aggravated ailments left over from her previous "African Queen." Also her private life during the filming mirrored the quiet desparation of the heroine, due to personal circumstances. Yet all of this is amazingly hidden through the skill of Director Lean and his camera crew. It's a Hepburn "spinster" role she played many times ("Alice Adams," "The Rainmaker") and no one could do it as convincingly. "Summertime" is a kind of film they don't make any more--and for good reason: they couldn't top it. Nor is there a "Hepburn" today able to carry a full production like this on her shoulders as effectively as this legendary actress.
  • I've seen this movie quite a few times on televison, but during the 2003 60th Venice Film Festival I had the opportunity to see it on a big, big screen in a brand new copy.

    Well, miss Hepburn's acting is breath taking, one of the few times she incarnates a woman so vulnerable, and she does it to perfection. And the tone and mood of the entire pic, while a little bit too "touristic", are absolutely sweet and romantic. I live in Venice, and can surely say that seeing what's on screen, I'm sure David Lean did fall in love with this city

    Only one minor (really minor) flair: some scenes were filmed in winter, not in summer, since the Moors of San Marco Square's clock only appear once a year, at Christmas time (and seeing the movie on a big screen, it was possible to notice that while the Moors were striking the hours, people on the back ground, although out of focus, were wearing coats and furs)..
  • The picture deals with a attractive spinster secretary (Katherine Hepburn) from Ohio who goes to holiday and has ultimately made it to Venice , for her long-awaited dream . Never-married , likable middle-aged Jane is a self-described "independent type" who's content , or so she claims , to go it mostly solitary , wielding her movie camera throughout the city when she meets a antiques merchant (Rossano Brazzi) . Jane soon discovers that even in a town as marvelous and riveting as Venice , going it alone can still leave one feeling unfortunately alone . She's trapped in an idyllic romance until that's realised of the reality . She also befriends a helpful beggar boy who pursues her everywhere .

    The film plot is plain and simple but abounds the surprises . The various highlights movie include : the spectacular downfall of Hepburn into the Venice canal or when the lovers watch how the flower dropped to water is going away and of course the sensitive and exciting final in the train and station . Impressive and breathtaking cinematography by Jack Hyldyard ; David Lean , in fact , had only used four photographers throughout his career . The other cameramen have been Guy Green , Ronald Neame and Freddie Young , everybody notorious color specialists . Katherine Hepburn's interpretation is top notch , she's sympathetic , romantic , attractive , memorable but also sad and vulnerable . Rossano Brazzi as a Latin lover is awesome . The support cast although relatively known -Darren McGavin, Isa Miranda , Marie Aldon- is very secondary , the film is principally interpreted by the excellent pair : Hepburn and Brazzi . Production set by Vincent Korda is spectacular , Korda is considered the greatest British designer . The motion picture is well directed by David Lean , author of many cinema classics . The picture will appeal to romantic movies fans . Rating : Above average . Well worth seeing .
  • Ms. Hepburn portrayed the many stages of love so convincingly that it is difficult to remember it's just a movie.

    One of the most appealing aspects of this film is that both she and her co-star are in their middle years. Their ability to show the blossom of new love and all the "ubbly, bubbly" feelings/emotions that go along with it are excellent examples of great acting.

    These days, Hollywood seems to believe that only teen or pre-teen love stories have any box-office appeal. For the most part, the acting is secondary to the amount of skin they reveal throughout the flick.

    If you haven't seen this movie in the past 10 years, it's definitely a film to check-out again.
  • drednm20 January 2008
    David Lean's film version of the Arthur Laurents Broadway play, THE TIME OF THE CUCKOO, which starred Shirley Booth, is a shimmering and beautiful valentine set in Venice, but one with a touch of realism.

    Katharine Hepburn stars as a mousy secretary from Akron who saves for years to have an adventure. She's a spunky and self-sufficient gal who secretly yearns to find love. She arrives in Venice and is immediately under the city's spell even though she's always running into a crass, older couple from Illinois. As she wanders the city, she's befriended by a tough little boy who is savvy in the way of tourists and life.

    She spots a man (Rossano Brazzi) several times in San Marco plaza and one day wanders into his shop to buy a red goblet. She is stunned that the owner is the same man. He pursues her but her puritanical streak flares up when she discovers he is unhappily married.

    She discovers all sorts of things about the owner of the pensione (Isa Miranda) and other guests (Darren McGavin, Mari Aldon) and even herself when she finds out what she's willing to settle for.

    The ending at the train station is beautifully shot and justifiably famous. Indeed, the entire film is an eyeful of beauty, and Venice, with its canals, bridges, and ancient towers is breathtaking. The film also contains the famous scene where Hepburn falls into the canal. In Kevin Brownlow's biography of David Lean, the director admits that there were nets in the water to prevent Hepburn from sinking to the bottom of the canal which was full of garbage.

    This is a stunningly beautiful film, a romance for adults. with a slim story that boasts great performances from Hepburn and Brazzi. The supporting cast is also very good, including Jane Rose and MacDonald Parke as the tourists, Jeremy Spencer as Brazzi's son, Andre Morell as the man on the train, and Gaetano Autiero as the street kid.

    Although Shirley Booth had originated the role on Broadway, she was considered too old for the movie version. Indeed, Ingrid Bergman and Olivia de Havilland were early front runners for the role of Jane. Others who expressed interest included Susan Hayward, Joan Fontaine, Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Dorothy McGuire, Rita Hayworth, Lizabeth Scott, and Jane Wyman.

    Hepburn won an Oscar nomination for her work.
  • andrewkenyon28 August 2006
    What a gem of a film this is!

    Katharine Hepburn, David Lean, 1950's fashion and Venice herself. A bitter-sweet romantic comedy this film has all the right ingredients and takes you back to a time when Hollywood was still making movies that were a joy to watch and showed the stars and directors at their best.

    Katharine Hepburn is glorious here. Forget all the Tracy/Hepburn wise-cracking comedies. Here she is allowed to shine. Here we see the comedy of "Bringing up Baby" honed down to a look here, a gesture there - but we also see what was to become the legendary vulnerability. She was 48 when she made this film but she never looked lovelier and Lean photographs her in glorious Technicolour so that her freckled face and auburn hair radiate off the screen. These, together with her spunky personality capture the eye (and heart!) of Renato di Rossi (well played by Rossano Brazzi - eleven years KH's junior) and they play so well together. She as the lonely spinster experiencing love for the first time. He the married man flirting the holiday romance. Or is he?

    The minor characters are a foil to the main action (rather like those in Brief Encounter) and work well.

    A touching story. Well played, beautifully shot and still a tear-jerker some fifty five years after its release. Hepburn was nominated but missed out on the Oscar for this to Anna Magnini (who she?) for The Rose Tattoo(remember that? - thought not!) but hey, who needs an the Academy vote when you've got a team like this?

    Highly recommended but have your Kleenex ready.
  • The American secretary Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) travels from Ohio to Venice. Jane is a middle-age single and lonely woman that have saved money for her dream trip. On the arrival, she immediately befriends the owner of the boarding house Signora Fiorini (Isa Miranda). During the night, she goes to a café and an Italian helps her to call the waiter. Jane feels sort of uncomfortable for being alone and on the next day, she sees a red glass goblet in the window of an antique store. The owner Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi), who is the man that helped her, explains that it is an ancient goblet from the Eighteenth Century and therefore expensive; then he also explains that she should always bargain for a lower price in Venice. Jane recognizes Renato from the previous night and becomes clumsy. Soon Renato woos her but the needy Jane is afraid to love.

    "Summertime" is a deceptive film directed by David Lean and with Katharine Hepburn. Her character is a tight and awkward spinster and the romance with Rossano Brazzi has no chemistry. Most of the time the viewer has a tour through Venice and a tasteless romance. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "Quando o Coração Floresce" ("When the Heart Blossoms")
  • Katharine Hepburn isn't the most overrated movie actress, and she certainly wasn't the worst. But she definitely could be too mannered for her own good. Witness her 1955 Oscar-nominated performance in this David Lean film.

    Playing a middle-aged single woman who comes to Venice in search of "mystery", and maybe a man to go with it, she pushes up her chin, clenches her teeth in an unconvincing smile, and calls everyone younger than her "cookie" to show she's hip...or something. Then when she finally meets the man (Rossano Brazzi), she can't get away from him fast enough.

    His line of woo is really one for the ages: "Eat the ravioli, my dear girl. You are hungry."

    "I'm not THAT hungry."

    "We're all that hungry."

    "Summertime" is a marvelous slide show in motion brilliantly featuring one of the world's most beautiful cities. But it never comes together as anything compelling. Lean leans on the superlative work of his cinematographer, Jack Hildyard, in lieu of story or characters.

    All we know about Kate's character, Jane Hudson, going in is that she's a private secretary who talks in capital letters, like: "I'm From Akron, Ohio, How Do You Do?". We know less about Brazzi's character, except that he sells possibly suspicious antiques and feels something for Jane. When they come together, we get Rossini, fireworks, and not much else other than an abrupt ending. Hey, I wasn't complaining too much. I just wanted it to be over.

    The secondary characters are even more from hunger. You get the McIlhennys, an American couple as pungent and unsubtle as the sauce they were no doubt named after. There's a painter, his patiently suffering wife, and a maid who sings like she should be on stage, not dusting blinds.

    Hildyard's brilliance nearly makes up for much. His camera-work captures a lot of amazing colors and detail, as well as a nice sense of dimensionality, like the way Jane's upper-story window looks down on the canals below. At one point, Hepburn even manages a natural line delivery of a good line: "In America, every female under 50 calls herself a girl...after, who cares?"

    Mostly Hepburn underlines and undermines her character's every emotion, squeezing already-overbaked dialogue too hard, like this consecutive series of lines to Brazzi: "Why did you do that? Oh, I don't think I want to see you again! I love you!" Even before the hugging and kissing starts, she makes sure you get her character's loneliness in every scene, tearing up and grimacing whenever she sees an affectionate couple pass her by on the Piazza San Marco. Lean doesn't help matters. When she meets Brazzi in his store for the first time, Lean makes sure to insert a harp glissando at the moment of their eye contact, in case you don't get the point something really big just happened.

    Love is a special thing. But you can gild the lily too much even in its service, and gild it even more for a big abrupt sad ending utterly wrong for the characters. Lean and Hepburn were movie legends, and justly so, but "Summertime" reminds you why they have detractors, too.
  • I have watched this film tens of times. I have never seen a city filmed so beautifully as Venice in this film. The photography is smooth, and travelling shots just perfect. The sights, the sounds and above all the haunting music of the film are just something else. Apart from the title theme " Summertime in Venice ", I have never managed to find the rest of the music on a cd or LP. The weather was obviously anticyclonic and perfect when they shot the film and the colours are unbeatable. I found it on DVD ( Criterion ) but if the picture quality is perfect, there are no subtitles, other language tracks or bonus features, all of which is a great shame considering the film is so beautiful.

    The plot is thin, Hepburn's reactions of a frustrated spinster are annoying at times and the film's end is unsatisfying either way. But these negative points will not stop me from watching again and again this film. It is pure 1950's gold. I wonder whether Venice today has

    the same charm as in the film .............
  • One of the many "spinster" roles Katharine Hepburn played throughout the 1950s, and one of the best. She plays a woman on vacation by herself in Venice, too uptight to let her hair down and succumb to the romance of the environment, yet tired of spending her evenings alone. She succeeds in doing a lot with a nothing role, and earned her sixth Academy Award nomination for her efforts.

    Beyond Hepburn, there's not a whole lot to this film. It consists mostly of scenes in which Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi, as an Italian paramour, make tentative gestures toward one another. David Lean provides solid if uninspired direction. The movie looks nice -- Venice especially looks beautiful, and really what's going on in the background almost always holds more interest than anything going on in the foreground -- but one wishes they had splurged on CinemaScope. Subsequent Lean films would not have this problem -- he was about to embark upon his transition to massive epics that would keep him busy for the next thirty years.

    Grade: B
  • Wow, this film is just a great time! Having "holidayed" a lot on my own, I could relate to Jane in Venice. You can see yourself in Katharine Hepburn's portrayal of the lonely spinster. This movie is so entertaining, I had a smile on my face the entire time.

    Wonderful views of Venice, tour de force performances by the leads,

    Summertime is a great movie to sit back with a glass of wine & just enjoy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Hepburn is either too old and unattractive or Brazzi to young and refined (even though he's not very prosperous, we later find out) to make their relationship in this film believable. Brazzi acts as someone commented here more like a predator than as a man in need of love, but then again we never learn much about either character. Was Hepburn supposed to be a virgin? Why does everyone keep calling Hepburn signorina, even when she's with Brazzi? Was Brazzi really feeling lonely and couldn't find a pretty young Italian or tourist girl (he's quite a handsome fellow, you know) and was Hepburn the best he could get? Does he dig older American women (it seems he does)? It also seems he wanted to keep Hepburn but as a mistress, an arrangement she clearly would have refused, but this is never discussed during the abrupt ending. This film has some things in common with Lean's other doomed-from-the start romantic film "Brief Encounter", with trains as a motif. BTW, it seems things have changed plenty since 1955 given that today a woman in Venice I don't think would feel safe walking the city alone, specially at night. All in all, this a very dated, miscast, unbelievable, yet wonderfully photographed film.
  • Griffin-Mill2 January 2005
    David Lean's moving, heart-stoppingly gorgeous companion piece to Brief Encounter combines Katharine Hepburn's finest, most human performance with stunning cinematography and a dizzying, romantic screenplay touched with just the right amount of worldly bitterness. Hepburn is continually dazzling and the screenplay is just cynical enough to have the ring of truth.

    Funny, beautiful and often heartbreaking, the film is a career peak for Hepburn (even if you find her to be mannered and irritating in other roles, it's difficult not to whole-heartedly sympathize with her here) and one of Lean's finest hours.
  • Benyomin13 August 2000
    This travelogue-qua-movie leaves one with a number of unanswered questions. Here are a few: (1) Why in the world does Brazzi chase cold fish Hepburn around Venice? I cannot for the life of me understand what he sees in her, and I found myself rooting for him to tell her to take a hike. (2) What is the means of support of the the Hepburn character? How does she get the time, and where does she get the money, for an open-ended stay in Venice? (3) How did the non-plot make it as a stage play before being filmed by David Lean without the sumptuous Venetian scenery? (4) How is it that this movie could have evoked the praises that it has evoked by other IMDB viewers?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good grief, you have to wonder what planet anyone who calls this a love story -- or even a romance -- is living on. Because the middle-aged female protagonist is supposedly a virgin, we are expected to be thrilled that she falls prey to a shameless, predatory liar.

    "Renato" (Rosanno Brazzi), the owner of an antiques shop, hangs out in the Piazza San Marco looking for solitary women to leer at. He begins his pursuit of "Jane" (Katharine Hepburn) by lying to her about an item she is interested in buying from him, and continues his pursuit of her by lying to her in order to make her think he isn't married (which he is).

    A particularly nice touch is the scene in which Jane, horrified to discover that her widowed landlady has been sleeping with the husband of a new young acquaintance, is scolded by Renato for being moralistic and overly concerned with others' behavior. Wow. I guess he would say that. (Ya think?) But Jane, sensing that she must learn to appreciate this strange, new way of looking at things, takes his rebuke to heart.

    When Renato finds himself delayed on the way to their first big date, he sends his courteous, clean-cut son (who is also his shop assistant) to tell her that, scusi signora, the gentleman is going to be just a little late. (Apparently this has happened before; the lad seems perfectly comfortable delivering a message to a woman his father clearly intends to commit adultery with...or maybe his dad told him that he moonlights as a tour guide.) Jane gives the young man a cigarette, and in the course of their brief conversation learns (surprise!) that he is not actually Renato's nephew, and that his mother -- Renato's wife -- is fine, grazie!

    Now Jane is ANGRY -- even more angry than she was when she discovered Renato's previous lies (which his hypnotic gaze, velvety accent and the sheer magic of Venice caused her to forget in under 3 minutes). Our hero now really has his work cut out for him: how to convince the furious Jane that it just plain doesn't MATTER that he has no problem lying about anything and everything -- including his own flesh and blood -- in order to get a woman into bed.

    Well, what promises to be an uphill battle turns out to be surprisingly easy. He just harps with renewed eloquence on his favorite theme -- the jist of which is "you know you want me" -- and follows her through the streets until she falls into his arms because she just can't help herself.

    Sadly, it never occurred to David Lean that in addition to relentlessly filming the outside of beautiful St. Mark's Cathedral, he could actually show his heroine going INSIDE the cathedral to connect with something much better than Mr. Irresistible.

    But that wouldn't have been "romantic".

    Because movies were still expected to be at least marginally morally uplifting in those days, Lean did permit Jane to eventually come to her senses (with rather jarring suddenness -- I think he probably was annoyed that he had to end the film on a wholesome note) and get the heck out of Dodge. Smart girl. Dumb movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story here is simple. An inadequate, unfilled woman comes to an exotic venue seeking life. She films her situation and that becomes the movie we see — which is the inadequate actress Hepburn moving into a genre she cannot handle.

    She tries as an actress just as her character does: she feigns the passion she so obviously desires, a desire around which she defines herself. She dips in the waters and actually engages in all the motions of passion.

    But Hepburn, as is her character, thinly souled and passionless. Her romance fails because she cannot carry it. Same with the movie.

    This is yet another film from the period when the industry was subsidized by the US government to make European cities look romantic, as part of the concurrent Marshall Plan.

    It was one of the noblest national efforts in history, to create a modern tourism industry based not on a region's history but on romantic images. Such a thing did not exist before: it is purely a post-war cinematic invention.

    Usually the targets were Rome and Paris, hardly considered romantic earlier. Here it is Venice. Seeking David Lean's images of Venice with this intent was my reason to watch Kate. There ARE wonderful films of Venice, at least films that show Venice well. They are worth seeing as a matter of surrounding the place, especially its glass, in preparation for visiting it with someone you love.

    Once. Deeply.

    Alas, even though there are all sorts of heavyweights associated with this thing, it won't help your romance, or your vision, or life, or visit. None.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
  • Katharine Hepburn shines as an American spinster vacationing in Rome, where she quickly falls for the very suave, very married Rossano Brazzi. Brazzi, who was typecast early on in Hollywood (nearly always portraying the foreign cad with the seductive come-on), is ostensibly an ill-suited match for nervous, chatty Kate, but they manage to pull off the hand-me-down plot contrivance--first love dashed by fate. Director and co-writer David Lean's cinematic sweep tends to dwarf the story, which originated as a far more intimate play (Arthur Laurents' "The Time of the Cuckoo"). Lengthy travelogue with a built-in tearjerker-trap does showcase nearly all of Hepburn's strengths as an actress; she is sometimes annoying, yet wistful, romantic, dreamy-eyed. Fabulously photographed by the peerless Jack Hildyard, and lovely entertainment for wallowers of sudsy romance stories. *** from ****
  • On the familiar ground of brief and intense romance that he worked with so brilliantly in Brief Encounter, David Lean fashions another tale of fleeting romance in Summertime with Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi.

    I have to give Lean credit for one thing that Summertime does better than most other films. I found it impossible to believe that Summertime originated from a one act, one scene play The Time of the Cuckoo which takes place on the front patio of the hotel where Hepburn is staying. The play ran 263 performances during the Broadway 1952-1953 season and netted a Tony Award for Shirley Booth.

    Lean makes the city of Venice the real star here in the same way Rome was in Three Coins in a Fountain and Roman Holiday. I love the way Lean photographed the city, it's absolutely first rate.

    Summertime is a simple tale of forty something unmarried woman Katherine Hepburn from Akron, Ohhio finding real romance for the first time on a long planned trip to Venice. Sad though, that for reasons quite beyond her control it can't last.

    Still with The African Queen, The Rainmaker, and her many films with Spencer Tracy at this time, Kate the great was proving love wasn't just for the young.

    For the many fans of Katherine Hepburn and the city of Venice.
  • Katharine Hepburn was 48 when she made this but she never looked more radiant than here, photographed in colour by Jack Hildyard, as Jane Hudson, an American spinster let loose in Venice and falling for a suave, middle-aged and inevitably married man played by Hollywood's idea of the only suave, middle-aged Italian male on the planet at the time, Rossano Brazzi.

    Hepburn is, of course, magnificent in the part; every gesture betrays a life-time of disappointment in love, a young girl trapped in a middle-aged woman's body anxious to break free but scared to do so. Her co-star, of course, isn't really Brazzi but Venice and you're never sure what it is that brings out the best in her, the city or the man. Hildyard's cinematography does Venice proud; few films have ever used a location as sensuously as this one does and a lesser actress would have let it get the better of her. The plot, of course, has been done to death and as romances go, this is formulaic stuff, (and the comedy is too broad; comedy was never Lean's forte), but Hepburn, Venice and, to a lesser extent, the handsome Brazzi weave their own spell and you're hooked.
  • zetes17 January 2003
    Katharine Hepburn plays an aging woman. She is alone on a vacation in Venice - she was alone before she left, and she has, for the most part, always been alone. To be on vacation alone is a sort of tragedy. Hepburn walks around the beautiful city with her movie camera and captures the spectacle of it all. Unfortunately, she can hardly keep the images of happy couples away from her lens. She even captures a pick up. She meets people around the city, but they are all paired off, leaving her alone with her camera. The enormous romance of Venice does little but remind her of what she probably will never have. But two days in a row she has chance meetings with an attractive Italian man, a shopkeeper named Renato (Rossano Brazzi). He goes for her quickly, and though she's nervous, she falls for him as quickly. But the next day, he completely avoids her. What is this guy up to? I could never fully trust him. And, for a while, that hurt the film for me. But I soon understood that Summertime was not the fantasy romance that many people seem to think it is. It has another layer. At one point, Renato, who has already lied to Hepburn a couple of times on important matters, tells her that she'll never have another chance at this. And it clicks with her: she won't. At this point, Hepburn just goes along with it and surrenders to her romantic fantasy. Renato is something of a scumbag, only really wanting to sleep with her, but she knows that their relationship is something that will last scant days. The dream of the situation is more powerful than its reality. I love the ending most of all, how Hepburn is still constructing this fantasy. She wills Renato to chase her train, a romantic cliche. As Renato brazenly holds up the flower, the one she was denied in her youth, her melodrama is complete. When she arrives home, she'll be able to tell people about her wonderful trip to Venice. It didn't really happen the way she will tell it, but who's to know?
  • As I watched this film, I continued to wonder what the suave Brazzi character would see in Hepburn. I never did find out. She was flighty and skittish, hardly a beauty -- I just didn't see the romance as credible.

    Hepburn chews a little scenery (she seems to cry at the drop of a hat), while Brazzi sleepwalks his way through the film.

    The film is, of course, well photographed, but it looked to me like about as close to a potboiler as Lean came. It was essentially a light romance novel lifted to the screen; the only thing missing was an appeal to the wealth fantasy that one usually sees in the genre.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, the bad things first: Kate orates and emotes throughout most of this movie and, until she dresses up in an evening gown, looks about 65 years old (she was only 48 when she made this movie). The premise is believable, but it's hard to care too much about a middle-aged Akron secretary who comes to Venice for one reason that she doesn't want to admit to herself, and that she would never do in Akron: she wants a little "adventure" (yep, she wants to get pawed over by a hot Italian far far from home). The kid, Mauro, is annoying, there's an obligatory fall into a canal or two (hardy har har).

    But the good is that David Lean managed to really photograph Venice the way it is, and it is incredible. What's more, although the Italian boyfriend seems a little shady (he lies, he admits that he wants sex --(wow this is 1955!), and he calls Kate on all her fraudulent statements--Renato is actually very convincing and in his own way pretty sympathetic. So, if you've never been to Venice, watch this movie, it's as close as cinema will take you. If you've been there, watch this movie, it's like a free trip back. Incidentally you can compare this movie on many levels to The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and this one is far superior, imho.
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