Summertime would seem an odd choice for Katharine Hepburn to play in, a technicolor film set in Venice, with her vulnerable and in love with Rossano Brazzi. Yet, she acts the role of the American abroad seeking love with exquisite conviction, and, Rossano Brazzi gives the best performance he ever gave in any English speaking film to be sure. The reason for his performance is Katharine Hepburn's performance..so smooth, graceful, and never out of line with the issues of the plot, but giving David Lean, the director..one of his best... more than he perhaps bargained for..depth, sensitivity, despair, loneliness, and an ending that is sad and filled with unfulfilled hopes, strung out as Miss Hepburn is by a Venetian memory, not at all epic in scope, but it is made so, by her genius.
The score helps a great deal to underscore the film, making it operatic, and the Rossini references and his actual music add to this operatic sensibility.
Summertime is one of the few films up to this point(1955) Katharine Hepburn made in color..there was The African Queen,(1951), Desk Set(1955) but she is very different in these, and The Rainmaker, later than Summertime by a year, is hampered by indoor sets and color that hide rather than show Ms. Hepburn's startling beauty. In Summertime, in color, she gets her only chance to be absolutely stunning, and it is so paplable and rich that you cannot take your eyes off of her.
See this beutiful film,but watch for the American racism, the advanced sexual mores that the Catholic Church hated in this film but could not censor, and the very evident pollution of the canals of Venice in 1955. David Lean, always showing the shining surfaces, but always too, the shadows and the undertows of life..even in Zhivago.
Lots of subtlties and lots of Katharine Hepburn here. A must!