Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A SUMMER PLACE (Warner Bros. 1959) Warner Home Video

Delmer Daves A Summer Place (1959) is a sort of Peyton Place by the sea. Set against the picturesque backdrop of a Pine Island resort where self-made millionaire Ken Jorgenson (the very stiff, Richard Egan) vacations with his wife Helen (Constance Ford) and teen daughter, Molly (Sandra Dee), the film recollects Jorgenson’s golden frolics of youth when he worked the inn as a life guard.

Resuming his love affair with ignoble trollop, Sylvia Hunter (Dorothy McGuire) herself, hopelessly trapped in a loveless marriage – the two old flames endure their rekindled sparks until the scandal breaks and their illicit lovemaking is exposed. In the meantime, Molly has fallen for Sylvia’s strapping son, Johnny (Troy Donohue) much to the chagrin of their parents who perhaps recognize all too well their own star-crossed roots have begun to show in their children.

The film is really tepid by today’s standards but greatly buttressed by the idyllic seaside settings, the winsome repartee between its two juveniles and Max Steiner’s memorable ‘theme from A Summer Place’ that not only won the Oscar for best song but made Steiner a very rich man. Overall, there’s little to recommend the plot. What is billed as sordid and lascivious behavior is in fact a love story with tragic underpinnings that are never entirely brought to fruition. In the final analysis, A Summer Place is just that – a great vacation spot where things happened and continue to happen; good, bad or indifferent.

Indifferent is a good word for Warner Home Video’s DVD. A tragic beneficiary of the unstable Warnercolor process that began to fade practically from the moment the film was photographed on its color stock, the image throughout is quite grainy, dull and uninspired. Yellows are flat rather than sunny, reds – muddy hues of pink or orange, blues either robin egg or navy and flesh tones always pasty. Again, these are inherent flaws in the color process, not in the mastering of this disc. Still, it would have been nice to have a restoration expert go over the negative. The audio is mono but adequately represented. There are no extras!

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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