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Summertime (The Criterion Collection)

Katharine Hepburn , Rossano Brazzi , David Lean    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Summertime (The Criterion Collection) + Three Coins In The Fountain (Bilingual)
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An American spinster's dream of romance finally becomes a bittersweet reality when she meets a handsome-but married-Italian man while vacationing in Venice. Katharine Hepburn's sensitive portrayal of the lonely heroine and Jack Hildyard's glorious Technicolor® photography make Summertime an endearing and visually enchanting film.


There was a time before Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago when David Lean made smaller, more effortlessly picturesque movies, and this splendid Venetian travelogue and love story is one of them--the last, actually, before the epic onslaught started with the Oscar-winning The Bridge on the River Kwai in 1957. "Sometimes I think a schedule in Venice is just, well, all wrong," observes a bewitched tourist to Katharine Hepburn's vacationing spinster near the beginning of Summertime, which is based on Arthur Laurents's play The Time of the Cuckoo. Before the end, however, Jane will have thrown her idealized romantic notions into the canals and embarked on a passionate affair with a married art dealer (Rossano Brazzi). More blissful than Lean's adulterous fable Brief Encounter 10 years prior, but not entirely guilt- or pain-free, this deceptively simple romance is an often-fascinating glimpse at a time when sexual revolution for Americans--and especially middle-aged women--was confined to fanciful European trysts. Plus, with all the architecture, art, Italian conversation, music, and fine cuisine around you (all richly photographed on location by Jack Hildyard), who's to pish-posh a furtive all-nighter between one repressive country and a free-loving one? The two leads are graceful and even musical in their movements and line deliveries. Hepburn's initial outrage at the idea that illicit love is part of her impossibly beautiful surroundings may at first seem outdated, but the Academy Award-winning actress is too good not to suggest as well the poignant, deep fear her character has of opening up emotionally to anybody. Ultimately, Summertime is the movie equivalent of a deep, satisfying sigh. --Robert Abele

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Katharine Hepburn at her best Sept. 24 2002
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Story Never to be Forgotten !! Aug. 18 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I have only seen this film once, probably about 15 years ago when I was in my early twenties, but it stays with me as one of my all time favourites. I had scived an afternoon off work, came home with a bottle of wine, turned the TV on and Summertime or Summer Madness as it was called in the UK appeared. I instantly fell in love with this film, probably because I am a romantic at heart and you want the girl to get her man ! The innocence of Hepburn in this film is there for all to see, she gives her all and you cannot help but feel for this very naive woman in a city where inexperience in love is rare. Venice itself is shown to be a beautiful city, alive and full of energy, a perfect setting for this story to unfold.
I am English and live in the UK and have been unable to get a video copy of this film that will play on my TV, but I would recommend this film to anybody who enjoys a love story. It tugs at your heart and really does stay with you as one of Hepburns best films and her main main Rossano Brazzi is great too, he plays her emotions magnificently - Sit back and enjoy a truly wonderful film...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A TREAT!! June 21 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I have to laugh with the reviewer before me, for I did in fact, after viewing this movie, rush to my computer and search the web for air fares to Venice. That is how beautifully the cinematographer captures this gorgeous city. For those of you who have been there, this will be a wonderful re-visit. And for those of us who have not, let's go!!
Katharine Hepburn here is in her prime. Rossano Brazzi is every woman's dream man (at least, he is mine). I do not believe that her conflict about their attraction (and yes, love for each other) was about sex outside of marriage, so much as it was the principle of an involvement with someone who is married. Perhaps it was a little of both. Still, they touched the heart of happiness, and Hepburn's character, Jane, seemed to intuitively know when to leave, stating that in the past she had always stayed too long at the dance (or was it the party?).
It is hard to review a movie that is so much about the heart, because matters of the heart are mysterious, and are not always reviewable. Leave it to say that this film is a delight, a trip through beauty, Brazzi's sincere performance, Hepburn at her most spirited, and a sterling story. And must not forget David Lean's quality direction. No part seems small with him at the helm.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I never knew when to leave, until now." Aug. 18 2006
Format:VHS Tape
Ohio secretary Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) has saved up for years to visit Venice and it's everything she hoped it would be...exquisitely beautiful and romantic...but lonely. Or so she thinks on her first night there, as she sits alone and watches the lovers in Piazza San Marco. Then, she sees Renato (Rossano Brazzi), a handsome and charming shopkeeper, and she starts to change her mind. He pursues her, too, and before you can say, "Buona Sera!" they are in love. Jane now thinks Venice is perfectly glorious, but some information about Renato may change her opinion of both him and Venice.

Directed by David Lean, known for his wonderful epic movies, this is a very simple and personal story of a middle-aged woman's wistfull dream of romance. It's easy to feel Jane's sadness and later, her exhilaration. Hepburn is perfectly cast and gives a wonderful performance, full of spunk and longing. Charismatic Brazzi was just starting his American film career in 1955 when he played Renato, and he certainly could sweep a woman off her feet. Filmed entirely in Venice, the scenery is lovingly photographed, and there's even a sweet subplot about a little boy. Highly recommended for those who like a (nearly) proper romance in an idyllic setting. Lovely.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Summertime
Great plot line, excellent acting and wonderful music. The shots of Venice were magnificent and as a lover of Italy and having visited Venice twice, I found the entire movie very... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Colleen Cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Katharine Hepburn
I think that this is a great movie and I have been to Venice so really wanted to have it so I could remember my trip. Love the story and Rossano Brazzi. Bitter-sweet love story.
Published 6 months ago by Katie G
4.0 out of 5 stars A look into the way things were
I enjoy this not only because of the love story but of the views of
Venice as I have been there myself and enjoy seeing it again.
Published 9 months ago by Roberta Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie
I have loved this movie since I first saw it especially since I have been to Venice. Now I have my own copy.
Published 13 months ago by Joyce McCallum
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun!
I had remembered this movie - already old - from my youth (I first saw it when I was babysitting on the late, late movie). Beautifully filmed in Venice. Fun movie.
Published on Oct. 17 2012 by CeeEmm
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible message to women - a remnant from terrible times.
I hated this movie. I hate the word "spinster". I hated that the movie implied that a single woman must be so desperate that she is grateful for every crumb destiny throws her way. Read more
Published on May 8 2011 by citizen1951
3.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and colorful Hepburn film
Katharine Hepburn plays Jane Hudson, an unmarried woman vacationing alone in Venice. The city captivates her, though it's not long before her loneliness begins to take away her... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by ShamayimBlue
5.0 out of 5 stars Summertime
My second all-time Katharinge Hepburn movies. I have seen it at least five times. It is the epitimy of romance movies. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by Michael McGhee
3.0 out of 5 stars An really good movie for Criterion
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD release of the film.
This is a good movie filmed entirely on location in Venice, Italy. Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
Summertime is one of my favorite films. Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi are superbly cast in this great film. Venice is
a dream. Sad ending though. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2003
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