Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “A Summer Place”

(Warner Home Video. 1959/2007. Widescreen. 130 minutes. Not rated. Directed by Delmer Daves.) Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, Arthur Kennedy, Sandra Dee, Troy Donahue, Constance Ford. Music by Max Steiner.

Break out the popcorn, put your feet up, and enjoy this blast from the past. There’s…a summer place… Yes, you’re humming the theme song now, a chart-topper from 1959 and perhaps Steiner’s best late-career score. The plot concerns a self-made businessman (a stiff Egan), his shrewish wife (a fun Ford) and daughter (the squealing Dee) visiting a Maine resort where Egan’s former flame (beautiful McGuire) is unhappily married to the innkeeper (the underrated Kennedy), a blueblood who’s fallen on hard times. Dee falls in love with the innkeeper’s son (tall blond teen idol Donahue), while Egan and McGuire rekindle their romance, with drastic consequences for all. Good ’50s soap opera and time capsule of sexual mores. No extras except for a trailer. I was fortunate to meet Donahue a couple of years before his death in 2001 (all the principals from A Summer Place are now gone, with Dee’s passing in 2005); we had a nice conversation about his years as a contract player at Warner Bros. I’m hoping Warners will follow this long-awaited DVD release with some of his other movies which were directed by Daves, such as Parrish, Rome Adventure (both available on VHS if you search), and Susan Slade (never even released on VHS as far as I know).

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