Last Summer (1969)

R | 97 mins | Drama | 10 June 1969

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HISTORY

An item in the 25 Jun 1968 DV announced that Eleanor Perry’s script, based on Evan Hunter’s best-selling 1968 novel, Last Summer, had recently been completed. The screenwriter’s husband, Frank Perry, was attached to direct, with principal photography scheduled to begin in Sep 1968. The production marked a return to U.S.-based production for Allied Artists (formerly Monogram Pictures), which had been struggling financially and had not backed an American-made feature film since 1965’s Tickle Me (see entry). In its heyday, Allied had produced forty to fifty motion pictures per year, according to an 11 Nov 1968 NYT article.
       The 28 Aug 1968 Var stated that Frank Perry anticipated a budget of just over $1 million. (A later item in the 16 Apr 1969 Var cited a final negative cost of $700,000.) Perry reportedly planned to take “a European approach” to directing by using natural lighting and handheld camera set-ups, aided by a “special harness-yoke” for director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld, designed specifically for the film. With the aforementioned tactics, Perry hoped to shoot forty to fifty setups per day, as opposed to “the usual dozen or so.” Filming was set to take place on Fire Island, NY, where the story is set. Since Allied Artists chairman Emanuel “Manny” Wolf happened to be a Fire Island resident, the executive helped scout locations.
       For the four leading roles, teenage actors were recruited from “high school English and drama departments,” as noted in the 28 Aug 1968 Var. The film marked the feature motion picture debuts of two of the four principals: Bruce Davison and Cathy ...

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An item in the 25 Jun 1968 DV announced that Eleanor Perry’s script, based on Evan Hunter’s best-selling 1968 novel, Last Summer, had recently been completed. The screenwriter’s husband, Frank Perry, was attached to direct, with principal photography scheduled to begin in Sep 1968. The production marked a return to U.S.-based production for Allied Artists (formerly Monogram Pictures), which had been struggling financially and had not backed an American-made feature film since 1965’s Tickle Me (see entry). In its heyday, Allied had produced forty to fifty motion pictures per year, according to an 11 Nov 1968 NYT article.
       The 28 Aug 1968 Var stated that Frank Perry anticipated a budget of just over $1 million. (A later item in the 16 Apr 1969 Var cited a final negative cost of $700,000.) Perry reportedly planned to take “a European approach” to directing by using natural lighting and handheld camera set-ups, aided by a “special harness-yoke” for director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld, designed specifically for the film. With the aforementioned tactics, Perry hoped to shoot forty to fifty setups per day, as opposed to “the usual dozen or so.” Filming was set to take place on Fire Island, NY, where the story is set. Since Allied Artists chairman Emanuel “Manny” Wolf happened to be a Fire Island resident, the executive helped scout locations.
       For the four leading roles, teenage actors were recruited from “high school English and drama departments,” as noted in the 28 Aug 1968 Var. The film marked the feature motion picture debuts of two of the four principals: Bruce Davison and Cathy Burns.
       Principal photography began on 9 Sep 1968, as stated in an 18 Sep 1968 Var production chart. While shooting on Fire Island, cast and crew resided there, but were permitted to leave on weekends. On 23 Oct 1968, Var reported that the production had moved to Bay Shore, Long Island, for a final week of filming.
       Last Summer was initially rated “X” by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as stated in a 28 May 1969 DV brief. After opening in New York however, offending passages were edited for a re-rating of “R." An article in the 30 Oct 1969 DV quoted Frank Perry, who spoke about the re-rating during an appearance at the San Francisco International Film Festival, stating, “I had to eliminate one Saxon expletive and remove a half-thrust in a rape scene. I didn’t think saving them was worth denying the film to a large audience.” Perry also expressed his conviction that the MPAA should designate two different types of X-ratings: one for “schlock,” and another for “artistic” films. Prior to the re-rating, the X-rated version of Last Summer was screened out-of-competition at the Cannes Film Festival, the 21 May 1969 NYT noted.
       Although the film received mixed reviews, Cathy Burns was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. After a year in release, the film was described in the 24 Nov 1969 NYT as a commercial success. In its opening weekend at the Cinema 1 theater in New York City, it had grossed an impressive $31,450, as noted in a 24 Jun 1969 DV advertisement.
       The 10 Sep 1969 Var announced that Twentieth Century-Fox International had acquired foreign distribution rights to the following territories: U.K.; Australia; South and East Africa; Germany; Italy; Austria; and Sweden.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jun 1968
p. 7
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1968
p. 2
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1968
p. 2
Daily Variety
28 May 1969
p. 2
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1969
p. 7
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1969
p. 3
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1969
Section C, p. 16
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1969
Section B, p. 1
New York Times
11 Nov 1968
pp. 77-78
New York Times
21 May 1969
p. 38
New York Times
11 Jun 1969
p. 38
New York Times
24 Nov 1969
p. 60
Variety
28 Aug 1968
p. 7
Variety
18 Sep 1968
p. 24
Variety
23 Oct 1968
p. 18
Variety
16 Apr 1969
p. 4, 28
Variety
21 May 1969
p. 18
Variety
23 Jul 1969
p. 20
Variety
10 Sep 1969
p. 4
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Animal trainers
Animal trainers
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Last Summer by Evan Hunter (Garden City, New York, 1968).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 June 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 Jun 1969; Los Angeles opening: 29 Jul 1969
Production Date:
9 Sep--late Oct or early Nov 1968
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22270
SYNOPSIS

While spending the summer on Fire Island, Peter and Dan, two adolescent boys from upper middle-class families, meet Sandy, a young girl who has found a wounded sea gull on the beach. After the boys remove a fishhook from the bird's throat, the three youngsters become fast friends and spend all their time together--swimming, boating, smoking marijuana and cautiously experimenting with their awakening sexual impulses during visits to a movie house on the mainland. One afternoon they are joined by Rhoda, a plump 15-year-old who is anxious to make friends. When the boys discover that Sandy has brutally killed the gull for biting her, Peter begins to shift his attention to Rhoda. Meanwhile, Sandy receives a response from a computer dating service. Finding it fun to taunt Rhoda about her inexperience with boys, Sandy gets Peter and Dan to persuade the reluctant Rhoda to take her place, and all four go to a restaurant to meet the shy Puerto Rican Anibal. To Rhoda's embarrassment, Sandy, Dan, and Peter get the man drunk and abandon him to three local bullies. Although Rhoda rebukes Peter for his behavior, she succeeds only in alienating him, and he goes off with Sandy and Dan for a picnic in the woods. Dan's plan of proving his manhood to Sandy is ruined when Rhoda tags along. Irritated by Rhoda's intrusion into their clique, Sandy removes her bikini top and dares Rhoda to do the same. Disgusted, Rhoda tries to leave, but Sandy goads the boys into holding her back. The frightened girl appeals to Peter for help, but he joins Sandy in pinning Rhoda to the ground while she is savagely raped by Dan. Following ...

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While spending the summer on Fire Island, Peter and Dan, two adolescent boys from upper middle-class families, meet Sandy, a young girl who has found a wounded sea gull on the beach. After the boys remove a fishhook from the bird's throat, the three youngsters become fast friends and spend all their time together--swimming, boating, smoking marijuana and cautiously experimenting with their awakening sexual impulses during visits to a movie house on the mainland. One afternoon they are joined by Rhoda, a plump 15-year-old who is anxious to make friends. When the boys discover that Sandy has brutally killed the gull for biting her, Peter begins to shift his attention to Rhoda. Meanwhile, Sandy receives a response from a computer dating service. Finding it fun to taunt Rhoda about her inexperience with boys, Sandy gets Peter and Dan to persuade the reluctant Rhoda to take her place, and all four go to a restaurant to meet the shy Puerto Rican Anibal. To Rhoda's embarrassment, Sandy, Dan, and Peter get the man drunk and abandon him to three local bullies. Although Rhoda rebukes Peter for his behavior, she succeeds only in alienating him, and he goes off with Sandy and Dan for a picnic in the woods. Dan's plan of proving his manhood to Sandy is ruined when Rhoda tags along. Irritated by Rhoda's intrusion into their clique, Sandy removes her bikini top and dares Rhoda to do the same. Disgusted, Rhoda tries to leave, but Sandy goads the boys into holding her back. The frightened girl appeals to Peter for help, but he joins Sandy in pinning Rhoda to the ground while she is savagely raped by Dan. Following the assault, the three leave; Sandy and Dan return to the beach while Peter hesitates on a sand dune near Rhoda.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.