Thursday, December 16, 2010

Theater Thursday: Summer of '42

Its Theater Thursday so you know the rules. More than likely whatever I talk about in this post will more than likely have spoilers in it. Tread accordingly.

A few weeks ago Daisy asked me about a movie called "Summer of '42". Specifically she was curious to what a young male virgin had to say about it. And Daisy I think I can honestly say this is the first time anyone has ever asked my opinion about something from the perspective of a young male virgin. Here goes.

For the setup the movie takes place on a small island resort (even though it looks more like a small country town than a resort) with summer homes and beach all around. Our main character is a young man (15) named Hermie. Hermie is spending the summer in a home on the island with his parents (who are oddly never shown). He wastes away more of his days with his friends Benjie and Oscy. Little did Hermie know this would be a summer than would change him forever.

Now if you are familiar with other teen "I gotta get some" movies like Porky's, Sixteen Candles, and of course American Pie then you would not be too far off base with what's going on here except content not as wild and in your face. Our young gentlemen constantly obsess over sex and really want to get it on. Mind you can see a big difference between Oscy (who I think could be Stifler's grandfather) and Hermie who I kinda saw a bit of my teenage self in (oddly enough Benjie doesn't get a lot of screen time and at one point even disappears from the story and only returns at the end of the movie).

Even though Hermie seemed like a shy guy that wanted to experience sex he wasn't a horndog like Oscy and this becomes very apparent when Dorothy comes into the picture. Dorothy's exact age is never given but its clear that she is an adult woman and is married to a man in the Army (who is shipped off to war early on).

And his shyness shows even more when it comes to his attempts to interact with Dorothy. While out walking one days he sees her carrying a lot of grocery bags and drops them on the sidewalk. He takes the chance to move in and talk to her (I suppose you could argue that he was only helping her in an attempt to get his foot in the door a la Nice Guy but frankly I get the feeling he would have done it even if he wasn't interested in her). After helping her get her groceries home he sits in for a cup of coffee (which apparently knew nothing about, especially the heat). You can see the nervousness and his attempt to sound more mature than he really is in an attempt to impress her. The next night while out at the movies (he had originally gone out with Oscy and Benjie but on Oscy's insistence two girls by the names Miriam and Aggie joined Hermie and Oscy, and Benjie disappears) Hermie meets Dorothy and she asks him for some help moving boxes the next day, which of course he accepts (again you could try to make the Nice Guy argument but I don't think it would hold against a kid of his character).

Our young friend Hermie manages to anxiously work his way through helping Dorothy with her boxes (while fantasizing about various parts of her body during the process). Later that night Hermie goes to a marshmallow roast with Aggie, Oscy, and Miriam. The next morning Hermie joins Dorothy as she is writing letters to her husband and offers to stop by that evening and she gives an okay. That night things get...complicated (and I suspect this may be why Daisy was wondering what I thought).

That night after getting all decked out Hermie heads over to Dorothy's place but doesn't get a response when he knocks. After letting himself in he sees that Dorothy's record player is still spinning after playing a record, her ashtray is full, and there is a bottle of liquor out. Next to the ashtray is a notice that her husband was killed. Finally Dorothy emerges from her room wiping tears and brushing her hair (I'm gonna stick to the facts for the sake of explanation and I'll get to impressions and speculation next.) After a brief conversation they have sex that night. Later that night Hermie gets up, exchanges goodbyes with Dorothy and leaves with her standing on her porch, smoking. That would be the last time he would see her for when he returns the next day there is only a note on her door telling him that she had to return home, she will always remember him, hopes that he will find his own way of remembering that night, and wishes that his life is free of tragedy.

Damn Daisy there is a lot going here to look at (in fact I watched the movie a second time to prepare for this post). And given how long this post is already I'm going to end here and write a second part.

Til then.

1 comment:

DaisyDeadhead said...

I'm so glad you watched it! Like I said, me and Mr Daisy have argued over it since day one. Looking forward to your views!

Admit that I love the movie. The setting and time (era) are also a big part of why I love it so much; it is lovely, like a dream. The guy who wrote it is the same guy who wrote the Waltons (TV show), so that is something to keep in mind too--he was regarded as a master of nostalgia. He always maintained the story was true, despite much skepticism.

I cannot hear the word "Foreplay" without thinking of Oscy looking through the book and exclaiming "Foreplay! That's the word!" or whatever it is he says.

There was a sort of sequel/follow-up "Class of 44"--which wasn't any good, but you might want to have a look anyway. (Jennifer O'Neill is not in the sequel.)

O'Neill was a supermodel at the time, so there is that too... hardly the "girl next door"--but she was utterly perfect for the Cover Girl makeup campaign in the 70s. She was also in David Cronenberg's SCANNERS.