Overlooked & Underseen: Summertime (1955)
The film I’ve chosen for this installment of Overlooked & Underseen is something from David Lean. Yes, that David Lean. “What film could possibly fit the bill?”, you ask? I’m talking about David Lean’s 1955 film Summertime starring Katharine Hepburn. It’s rare, but every once in a while I come across a film that I can only describe as “delightful”. Summertime fits that description perfectly.
I fell in love with this movie from the start. Hepburn plays Jane Hudson, a middle-aged secretary, on her first trip to Venice, Italy. We experience Venice through her eyes, and what an experience it is! Lean’s direction and Jack Hildyard's cinematography make Venice look like an absolute dream. I’ve never been to Venice and I found myself almost giddy with delight right along with Hepburn as she roams about the city.
Jane is staying at the Pensione Fiorini with a few other Americans, including a philandering artist (Darrin McGavin) and his wife Phyl (Mari Aldon). Jane immediately feels lonely because she sees herself surrounded by amore. As she begins to explore more of the city, a street kid attaches himself to Jane and, sometimes, keeps her company as she moves about the city.
Now, what would a movie about Venice be without a little romance? While shopping one day, Jane meets Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi). Sparks fly and a sweet romance begins to blossom. It’s never stated in the film but I’m pretty sure Jane is a virgin. This would explain some of her hesitancy when it comes to Renato. Does she hook up with him? Does she decide to stay in Venice? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Summertime is part romance, part Venetian travelogue and it works. Katharine Hepburn is so damned charming in this. I mean, she is Hepburn, of course, as she has that clumsy, slightly awkward way about her. Everything is lovely about the film; the opening titles, Hepburn, the photography, the city, the direction, all of it. Every last frame. Again, this film is a delight and I dare you to watch it and not shed a tear or three.