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  • In the early 1960s there were several movies that put a teen-aged girl into a moral dilemma that was difficult even for people three times her age. But the performances of Jill Haworth in "Exodus," Hayley Mills in "The Chalk Garden" and Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker in "The World of Henry Orient" are overshadowed by that of Susannah York in "The Greengage Summer" (1961).

    York plays a responsible person who falls in love with a criminal -- a professional thief, played by Kenneth More, who finds her very attractive. She is sixteen, he is in his 40s. Without parents for the summe, she is in charge of her younger siblings; he is single and carefree. But there is no seduction here, from either party.

    Susannah York's Joss trembles and blushes as someone ready to throw pride and morality to the wind in the name of love. Kenneth More's Eliot, initially a copy of Charles Boyer's Pepe in "Algiers" (1940), becomes genuinely awkward as he tries to understand her exuberance, and as he rediscovers a pre-criminal sense of honor within himself. The relationship of these two unlikely lovers is erotic, but without the smutty sex we now expect from such cinematic situations, and without the sermonizing or soft-focus slow motion that became fashionable for awhile a few years after this movie and those with a similar theme.

    Realistic dialogue and lush background scenes are juxtaposed against embarrassing and unspoken emotions, making this film a haunting exposition.

    Kevin Cisneros
  • Susannah York is astonishingly good as a sixteen-year old British girl, traveling through France with her mother and three younger siblings, who falls in love for the first time with a handsome, older man (Kenneth More) who is harboring a guilty secret. The kids, who are left temporarily without their mum after she takes sick, arrive at their hotel in France's Champagne Country to an ill-wind: the two lesbian women who run the extravagant spread do not permit children, but one of the ladies is also involved with More and he takes the family under his wing. The complex relationship between the women, business partners who appear to have a great deal of history together, is handled without high drama (indeed, Howard Koch's writing is so subtle that the depth of these characters may elude many viewers). The kids get to stay, and everyone falls in love with dashing More, but with crystal-eyed Susannah there's bound to be heartbreak--and in that heartbreak, jealousy and a child's vindictiveness. A fully thought-out and realized film, adapted from Rumer Godden's novel, and played out amongst a gorgeous backdrop. The movie has a precocious nature and a wise child's sensibility--very little of the drama is hammered out for us--and the tone of the picture is kept dreamy-romantic. It is exceptionally well-performed (by the principals as well as by the children cast as York's siblings), with a sensitive direction ably steering the complicated narrative to its poetic finish. Beautiful, sad, enveloping, wistful; it's a perfect example of how a movie can be capable of absorbing its audience in much the same way a good book can enrapture its reader. A winner! ***1/2 from ****
  • I saw this lovely little film shortly after it first appeared. It is a thoroughly charming and winning motion picture about first love, disillusionment, and acknowledgement, as the young and lovely Susannah York comes of age. She is absolutely winning in one of her first major roles. Kenneth More is superb as the object of York's unrequited affections, and Danielle Darrieux is splendid as More's jealous lover. Wonderful scenes of the French countryside (I remember especially a charming visit to a wine chateau) make this a delightfully wistful experience.
  • I'm surprised to find that this has not as yet been given a video release. More and more films from the various studios' archives are finding their way to a public that craves the kind of entertainment which was once much more available to those willing to attend a film in a theatrical setting, that is, films with a respect for adult sensibilities and without the tiniest nod to the sensation-seekers who crave explosions, mindless (and excruciatingly extended sequences of) violence and special effects which are, let's face it, beginning the inevitable downward spiral of diminishing returns. Really! Are any but those who refuse to refine their tastes in theater, films, etc., still impressed by the ever more astonishing demonstrations of the computer geniuses' craft and which are the reason that dozens and dozens of artisans make a closing credit roll-up almost as long as a typical film these days (and which precious few theater patrons will now sit through)?

    I was able to see "Loss of Innocence" (its American release title) at a first-run theater in Beverly Hills, California and the print was absolutely pristine, doing full justice to Freddie Young's exceptionally fine work behind the Technicolor cameras. A projectionist of my acquaintance at the time told me that Columbia Pictures Corporation was especially particular about the condition and presentation of first-run films released by that studio, sending technicians frequently during first-run engagements of Columbia films to check on the condition of projection equipment, correcting any flaws that may have shown up in the reels, the proper masking of projected films according to the aspect ratio used in production, and so forth. I no longer live in southern California but I'm somewhat reluctant to believe that such care (and expense) is still lavished on films at first-run houses down there these days. It certainly doesn't appear to be true here in the Northwest.

    Anyway, with the lovely scenery of its French countryside settings and two truly beautiful actresses (the exquisitely young English rose, Miss York, and that elegant flower of French womanhood, Madame Darrieux) to delight one's eyes, plus a delicately scripted story of more than unusual interest, this is a film I shall always remember as one of the most ravishing cinema-going experiences that I can recall. I join others who have commented on this site in hoping that we will one day be rewarded with a happy refreshing of our memories with a video release of this gem.
  • Susannah York is nothing short of sensational in her first starring assignment as the eldest sister in charge of two sibling during a summer "holiday" in France. She lets us into her heart and mind in a most disconcertingly yet effectively personal way. We learn with her the delicate balances needed between vulnerability, responsibility, and the dangers of reacting with protective cynicism.

    Director Lewis Gilbert excels in showing lead characters battling with the difference between infatuation and love. The Greengage Summer, known here in the US as "A Loss of Innocence", may be his crowning achievement in this area. Kenneth More and Danielle Darrieux, two of the European cinemas very best, are extraordinary in their key supporting roles.

    Don't miss this unique gem.
  • Susannah York is magnificent as the young girl who must protect and nurture her siblings while being attacked by unfamiliar situations and coming-of-age. Kenneth More is magnificent as the suave thief with whom she gets enthralled. And Danielle Darrieux is a study in magnificence as the past-her-prime working girl resigned to her fate. The photography is luscious. And the dialogue is utterly realistic with witty repartee giving way to raw feelings. This is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time.
  • Greengage Summer (Loss Of Innocence, American release title) is a wonderful, nostalgic movie that I love to watch over and over again. How can you improve upon Kenneth More looking over at a blossoming Susannah York in one of her first films, tasting the perspiration on her face and saying sweetly: "Dew of Joss"? Sigh. So romantic!

    The performances of all the children are first rate, and the actor who plays Paul is perfectly slimey for his part. You can almost smell him through the tv screen! In the novel by Rumer Godden I think there were two more children than in the movie, but who's counting? Best scenes: the French countryside, the sightseeing tour to the church, winery and the cafe, the dance scene at the hotel, and Eliot saying goodbye to Joss at the end. The movie also boasts rather gorgeous music that is available on CD. Check it out. I sounded out the main theme and play it on my piano quite often.

    They just don't make films like this anymore, and if they tried to they would have the main characters in bed together in the first five minutes. Yuck. Give me yesterday, and understated romance over the tripe they call entertainment today.
  • ruthiej3 April 2002
    This film is a distant memory of Sunday afternoons in my teens when this film was still played in the UK. How can we get it released on video? The innocence of the girl falling in love with the thief, it was gripping. ten out of ten
  • More More is what I said after viewing his virtuoso performance, and Susannah York and Danielle Darrieux match him, exchange for exchange. Truer emotions were never shared on screen. This is an excellent directing effort by the underrated Gilbert, truly one of the all-time greats. The story never loses its originality or its delicate sense of balance. I have now seen this film four times, and each time I love it that much more.
  • All the ingredients are presence in abundance for a nearly perfect film. Susannah York is majestic in her first leading role. Kenneth More is superb as a dashing jewel thief. Danielle Darrieux is brilliant as More's jaded lover. And, York's younger sibling are similarly cast perfectly. This is a sensitive, gentle, and delicate film to be savored as a fine wine. It improves with age.
  • blanche-27 July 2008
    Susannah York goes through "A Loss of Innocence" in this 1961 film, titled "The Greegage Summer" in England. Directed by Lewis Gilbert, "A Loss of Innocence" also stars Kenneth More, Danielle Darrieux, Jane Asher and Maurice Denham. When their mother becomes ill on vacation in France and has to be hospitalized, she tells her teenage daughter Joss (York) to go to the hotel with her three siblings. When they arrive at The Château, they are not welcome by the owner, Zisi (Darrieux), who doesn't like children in the hotel. However, her gentleman friend, Eliot (More) insists that they stay the night, and to make him happy, she agrees. Thanks to Eliot's intervention, they are allowed to continue to stay. The younger children grow very fond of him, and he of them. Joss has been staying in her room ill (probably with her period). When she finally emerges, no longer in the bedraggled state of the first evening. Eliot realizes she's not a child but almost a woman, and a beautiful one at that. There is an instant attraction.

    It's hard enough to be growing up, in charge of your siblings in a strange place and with your mother ill, so Joss is unaware of the rumblings underneath this elegant hotel. For one thing, Zisi was involved in more than a business partnership with Madame Corbet (Claude Nollier) until Eliot came along. Needless to say, Corbet hates him, not to mention the fact that Eliot doesn't like guests in the hotel, so business is down. Zisi is violently jealous of Joss, who has no idea of it. And Eliot's business trips to Paris aren't all that they seem to be either. When he has a violent reaction to having his picture taken and changes his mind about a tour when he sees a policeman, Joss begins to get suspicious.

    This is a stunning film about a young woman's first awareness of her affect on men and her first crush, and it's beautifully handled by Gilbert. Eliot never takes advantage of Joss and finds in himself qualities he didn't know he still had, both with her and with the children. Kenneth More has always been a wonderful actor; here is no exception - we get to see a complete, complex human being. Darrieux does a beautiful job as the cold, jealous and somewhat desperate Zisi, watching someone with the youth she no longer has and knowing she can't compete with it.

    Ultimately the film belongs to the radiant York who perfectly portrays what it's like to think you're in love, come to hate the person you love with such a passion that it's obviously still love, and the resulting vengeful behavior. She's helped by the honesty of the script - everything rings so true. When Joss finally realizes she has loved and lost, she revels in the pain of it, dancing down the lane - when you're that age, there's nothing like the feeling of sophistication that the misery of love gives you.

    One of those great, unappreciated films - perhaps with more showings on TCM, its status will grow.
  • Marvelously directed and acted, this tale tugs on my heartstrings as much today as thirty years ago. I last saw it on a PA PBS affiliate five years ago, but it still remains vivid in my mind. Kenneth More is utterly enchanting, and Daniel Darrieux is sadder-but-wiser personified. Susannah York is outstanding in her first role, and the young actors playing her younger siblings also sparkle. Lewis Gilbert is one of my favorite English directors and this film is a good reason why. If anyone had found its availability on tape or DVD, please let me know.
  • I was only 10 when I saw this film but I'd been seeing films for around 3 years at least already so I really did understand what was going on, etc. For some reason, I OFTEN think of this movie and have been trying to remember the title for years to see if it's available for purchase. I can't wait to see how I like it now, 40 years later... for some reason that countryside is in my mind and I must see it again.
  • Brilliant performances by cadly Kenneth More, astonishing Danielle Darrieux, and winsome Susannah York highlight this perfectly told coming-of-age tale with an amazing balance of whimsy, insight, intelligence, and reality. A must-see for romantics of all ages.
  • I saw the movie only once and that was over 30 years ago. It was one of the best films I have ever seen and remains so. As others have commented, it doesn't appear to be on VHS nor have I ever found it shown on either AMC or TCM. If anyone knows where or how to see it and/or own it please email me.
  • Saw this film in a last-run unspooling at a neighborhood Los Angeles theater and was stunned by the overpowering sensuality of its cinematics. More than four decades later, I can still recall the sun- and moon-drenched humidity of a Midi summer, and the flowering of an adolescent Susannah York in the precincts of a charismatic Kenneth More, at his charming best. That this film is no longer recognized in latterday compendia of film is something beyond my understanding, even in the resumes of both stars. Someone, surely, should resurrect same in the DVD mode, completely "remastered," and I, for one, would cheerfully plunk down my admission fee. This one, and maybe "Reds" as well.
  • Next to A Man For All Seasons, this is the best-scripted movie it has ever been my pleasure to watch, then read, then watch again. And every performance from the three leads on down is perfect. The photography and direction are also first-rate. The result is a flawlessly told coming-of-age tale exquisitely acted by Susannah York with able assistance by Kenneth More and Danielle Darrieux.
  • All three stars are magnificent in this story of a young girl, guardian of her young siblings during a nearly idyllic Summer in France. Kenneth More is devastating as an aging jewel thief. Danielle Darrieux is even better. Romanticas and truth-seekers of all angels will love this film.
  • The Greengage Summer is impeccably acted, directed, scripted, filmed, and scored. Excellence abounds which is why it remains one of my favorites. I join in the nearly unanimous chorus for its release on video as well. But, there is a mystery I simply find imponderable here. I hope the Editor who reviews this comment will be kind enough to e-mail me an answer to the mystery if he or she has one. My email is hblank@qedinternational.com

    The mystery is this. 40 of the 59 IMDb reviewers rank this movie 10 out of 10. The other 19 votes stratify down in descending order with the lowest being a 4. The arithmetic mean of these ratings is 9.1; yet the only IMDb rating listed on the main page is something called "the weighted" average which is a lower ranking than 54 of the 59 respondents at 6.6. How can this be? As I understand it, the weighted average gives a higher weight to those who have reviewed the most movies on IMDb. But, I've NEVER seen anything close to this kind of disparity between the arithmetic mean and the weighted average -- I found just a very few with more than a 1.2-point differential, but 2.5???

    What, was some 19-year old who has reviewed 100,000 science-fiction and action movies for IMDb forced by his mother to watch The Greengage Summer, so out of spite and anger, he contributed the four -- and because he's watched and reviewed such a gigantic number of movies, everything gets skewed in the direction of his vote??? Am I warm? Could you please provide us with the answer?

    I think that 6.6 represents a huge distortion from the large chorus of diverse reasons for loving the film. Therefore, I humbly request an executive review and overriding this formula, perhaps splitting the difference to 7.8 or 7.9. I think that the comments make it clear that 7.8 or 7.9 is far more representatives of what IMDb movie-watchers think of The Greengage Summer than a mediocre 6.6.

    Is there any chance of a revision? If not, could you please explain to us devoted fans why?

    Anyway, this criticism aside, IMDb provides an excellent service for us all, and I urge you to keep up the good work.
  • This movie is my husband's favorite. He, the consummate movie buff, describes this movie as "nearly perfect" and "simply beautiful."

    We have been searching for a copy of it for quite literally a decade. It does not appear to have ever been issued on videotape and it never appears on television, either.

    If any of you just happen to know someplace where this wonderful movie might be available, please contact us!
  • The alternative title for this film is The Loss of Innocence, which sounds deceptively exploitative. It is however an appropriate description of a charming yet sinister film.

    The film is set in the Champagne Country in France, so we get some lush views of the French countryside and even a look into the champagne caves. That alone would probably be enough for some people but we have a great story too: four children (for those who read the book, the character of Cecil has been merged with Hester) are left on their own in a grand hotel in France when their mother gets taken ill. Thirteen-year-old Hester, the second eldest, takes charge of The Littles (their name for the two young children) as she has the best knowledge of French, but it is the eldest child, sixteen-year-old Joss, that blossoms almost overnight. Her beauty captures the heart of their unofficial guardian, middle-aged Englishman Eliot, and Joss soon becomes entangled in a love triangle between her, Eliot, and co-owner of the hotel, Madame Zizi. Further complications arise when Eliot proves himself to be untrustworthy, perhaps even criminal...

    The novel has been diluted in the transition to film. The novel's equivalent of Hester, Cecil, is the narrator of the novel, so we see her sister's sexual awakening through her eyes. Cecil also undergoes a transition into womanhood, however all hints of this are eradicated in the film. Whether this is due to time restrictions or trying to please the censors is unclear. The focus of the film is on Joss and her coming-of-age. Fans of the book may be disappointed that Susannah York does not have the exotic dark beauty that Joss is supposed to have, but she is suitably pretty and passes as a sixteen-year-old who is just turning into a woman. She also resembles Sue Lyon in Lolita, which came out in the same year, and the two films have some similarities in that relationship. Kenneth More is a bit old to play Eliot so one might have to stretch their imagination to believe that Joss fancies him. He also doesn't have the suaveness or mysteriousness of Eliot in the novel. However he does have a chirpy charm and works well with the children. A mention should also go to Jane Asher, who plays Hester's curiosity of the adult world very effectively.

    Although the film does not capture the darkness and perfection of the novel, it remains a nice exploration of the process of growing up.
  • bobwell24 February 2008
    This film was shown at my school on a Sunday night as was customary in those days,and had undoubtedly been vetted by our headmaster for "suitability".Obviously he had no reason for qualms as it was passed as such.At the age of 15,as I was then ,you can imagine the impact of a story such as this on an impressionable youth at about the same age as the characters portrayed in this absolutely delicious film.The debut of Susannah York in her first major role must surely rank as one of the best.She went on to do other fine work as Sophie Western in Tom Jones and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie amongst others,but I will always consider her as my first unrequited love!.Who can forget her reaction in Tom Jones when her maid said..."why,I do believe the young gentleman is awake!.Kenneth More was brilliant as the older seducer/ thief with a belated conscience and hopeless infatuation.I join the earlier posters in their desire to see it again if only to recapture an idyllic "summer'.
  • I note that a number of people have written enthusiastically on The Greengage Summer and I agree. It was a charming film with great performances and a lovely score. I note one contributor has found difficulty getting a copy of the book from which the film was drawn. I managed to obtain a copy from the Folio Society in London last year but their print is now sold out and you have to be a member in any case to purchase books. Like others I have also tried to find a copy of the film in VCR or DVD form without success. I have been told by someone in the film business that one of the British studios destroyed many of their original prints and so quite a number of old films will never be available again. I cannot remember the name of the studio/distributor but The Greengage Summer might be one of the affected films which would explain why no one can find a copy. I hope I'm wrong! I also have never seen The Greengage Summer on TV.
  • I finally got my copy of this movie after waiting TEN years from Scooter and I have to say that I LOVED it! The quality of the DVD is excellent so I was able to focus entirely on the film.

    The BAD thing about it was Susannah York who overplayed and was overly dramatic and worst of all a BLONDE which violated the entire idea that the rest of the family was pink and brown but Joss and Willmouse were dark haired and exotic.

    HOWEVER, Jane Asher, who played Hester was exactly right in both her looks and delivery!

    In the movie there are only four children while Godden had five in her book but this is no way detracts from the movie. I would seriously recommend that you get this movie for any Godden lover because it kept my attention and I truly enjoyed it. The actor who played Eliot was exactly right, while he didn't match my mental idea of his LOOKS, his delivery was spot on!

    While I am normally never satisfied with movies from books, (hated the Maeve Binchy movies and wasn't thrilled with Angela Lansbury's Shell Seekers and yet LOVED the books!) I have to say that THIS one was an exception. IF I gave the book to someone I would definitely include the DVD as well along with a box of Belgian Chocolates and some really GOOD coffee!
  • rbrtfourie16 February 2021
    I came across a 16mm print of "Loss of Innocence".

    Before adding it to my 16mm film collection, I consulted IMDB for an overview of the film. I found the general overview to be favourable so decided to add the print to my collection.

    The opening credits are missing. Fortunately, the story line and the closing credits are intact. There is some perforation damage and the colour is faded.

    One reviewer described the film as "a little gem." I agree.

    The relationship between Susannah York and Kenneth More could have been developed a little more; to enable the viewer to identify with them. The climax of the story could also have been developed a little more as I felt that towards the end of the film the story was rushed to its end - although it is well done.

    This film is suitable for viewing by all ages. Robert Fourie - South Africa