Summertime (1955)

98-100 mins | Romance | June 1955

Director:

David Lean

Producer:

Ilya Lopert

Cinematographer:

Jack Hildyard

Editor:

Peter Taylor

Production Designer:

Vincent Korda
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Time of the Cuckoo . The picture is also well known by its British release title, Summer Madness . The opening and closing cast credits vary in order. Although many contemporary sources list Rossano Brazzi’s character name as “Renato Di Rossi,” he is listed as “Renato De Rossi” in the onscreen, closing credits. According to the 22 Oct 1952 Var review of the Broadway opening of Arthur Laurents’ highly successful play, The Time of the Cuckoo , Laurents wrote the lead expressly for actress Shirley Booth, for whom the play’s producers waited a year because she was committed to other projects. When various Hollywood studios became interested in the play, there was much speculation that Booth would star in the film version. According to contemporary news items and information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, producer Hal Wallis and agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar were among those interested in purchasing the play for production on the screen.
       A 17 Dec 1952 HR news item announced that Wallis wanted to purchase the play, but Booth was refusing to work with him because he had told her that she was “too old” for the film version. The item further noted that Katharine Hepburn had expressed interest in the project, and that Wallis hoped to buy it for her and Ezio Pinza. According to a 7 Apr 1953 HR news item, Ilya Lopert had acquired rights to the play and was “still running with Shirley Booth in the star role.” The article also announced that Lopert was considering Anatole Litvak to direct the picture, ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Time of the Cuckoo . The picture is also well known by its British release title, Summer Madness . The opening and closing cast credits vary in order. Although many contemporary sources list Rossano Brazzi’s character name as “Renato Di Rossi,” he is listed as “Renato De Rossi” in the onscreen, closing credits. According to the 22 Oct 1952 Var review of the Broadway opening of Arthur Laurents’ highly successful play, The Time of the Cuckoo , Laurents wrote the lead expressly for actress Shirley Booth, for whom the play’s producers waited a year because she was committed to other projects. When various Hollywood studios became interested in the play, there was much speculation that Booth would star in the film version. According to contemporary news items and information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, producer Hal Wallis and agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar were among those interested in purchasing the play for production on the screen.
       A 17 Dec 1952 HR news item announced that Wallis wanted to purchase the play, but Booth was refusing to work with him because he had told her that she was “too old” for the film version. The item further noted that Katharine Hepburn had expressed interest in the project, and that Wallis hoped to buy it for her and Ezio Pinza. According to a 7 Apr 1953 HR news item, Ilya Lopert had acquired rights to the play and was “still running with Shirley Booth in the star role.” The article also announced that Lopert was considering Anatole Litvak to direct the picture, which would be “an American-Italian production, with Angelo Rizzoli as [Lopert’s] partner.” On 12 Apr 1953, however, NYT reported that Lopert was negotiating with Daniel Mann to direct, and that Laurents would be writing his own adaptation of the play for the screen. According to a modern source, Laurents’ screenplay was unsatisfactory, and after director David Lean tried unsuccessfully to improve the treatment with the help of associate producer Norman Spencer, writers Donald Ogden Stewart and S. N. Behrman were brought in to work on the screenplay. Finally, Lean met with novelist H. E. Bates and the pair wrote the screenplay together.
       According to the 12 Apr 1953 NYT article, Lopert intended to meet with noted Italian director-actor Vittorio De Sica about playing “Renato.” On 20 Apr 1953, LAT reported that after Lopert bought the rights to the play, Roberto Rossellini had been interested in directing it with Ingrid Bergman as the star, but that Olivia de Havilland was then considering starring in the project. According to an 11 Jan 1954 HR news item, United Artists, along with an unnamed “Italian firm,” was to participate in financing the film. HR later reported in Jun 1954 that the picture would be “financed entirely” by Robert W. Dowling and City Investing Co. The MPA and modern sources note that British producer Alexander Korda and his company, London Film Productions, Ltd., were also major partners in the production.
       According to the film’s pressbook, ninety percent of the picture was shot in exterior locations in Venice, including the island of Burano. The remaining ten percent, all interiors, were shot at the Scalera Studios in the commercial district of Venice. In the onscreen credits, it is noted that the music score was “Recorded in Rome,” and the cinematography credit reads: “Photographed entirely in Venice by Jack Hildyard, B.S.C.” Some modern sources assert that before filming began, rumors circulated in Venice that the picture would be censored by the Patriarch of Venice due to its licentious story, and that the gondolieri would strike if shooting disrupted tourism. Allegedly, the problems were solved by a generous contribution to the restoration fund of the Basilica of San Marco, along with a promise that costumes showing bare arms or short skirts would not be worn in holy places and the hiring of a large number of gondolieri .
       Reports from modern sources conflict as to the story that Hepburn contracted a serious, lifelong eye infection due to the famous sequence in which she falls into a canal. Some sources state that the sequence required at least two takes, and that despite adding chlorine and protective tarping to the water, Hepburn’s eyes were infected, while others dismiss the story as apocryphal, stating that Hepburn often swam in the canals at night after shooting. Modern sources do agree that after the film’s release, tourism in Venice increased dramatically, and one of the spots frequently pointed out during tours is the canal into which Hepburn fell. The Pensione Fiorini was actually a composite of two exterior locations and one interior built on a sound stage.
       Information in the film’s file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that when Lazar originally submitted Laurents’ play to the PCA in Dec 1952 for the office’s opinion of its suitability for filming, he was told that the “basic story is in violation of the Production Code, and a motion picture based upon it could not be approved by us.” Office head Joseph I. Breen informed Lazar that the play’s acceptance and promotion of adultery was the main reason for their disapproval. In May 1955, new PCA head Geoffrey Shurlock told United Artists’ officials that the film as then screened could not be approved because of its depiction of adultery. Shurlock suggested that if the sequence in which “Jane Hudson” and Renato first consummate their relationship was trimmed, along with certain comments during their idyll in Burano, then the intimation of adultery would be sufficiently lessened for the PCA to approve the picture. Although the majority of the balcony sequence footage, in which Jane and Renato watch fireworks and kiss, was retained for the final film, a 14 Jun 1955 DV news item reported that eighteen feet of footage was removed from the sequence and the picture was approved by the PCA. In late May 1955, Var had noted that “several state censors already have okayed” the picture for exhibition. The 8 Jun 1955 MPD review mistakenly reported that the PCA had rejected the picture.
       One of the most contentious items in the picture for censors was a line spoken by Renato when he chastises Jane for her simplistic attitude toward sexual relationships. In the released film, Renato tells her that she is like a hungry child and should eat the ravioli in front of her. According to a 24 Aug 1955 DV article, the National Catholic Legion of Decency strongly objected to the sequence as it was originally shot, in which Renato said: “You are like a hungry child who is given ravioli to eat. ‘No’ you say, ‘I want beefsteak!’ My dear girl, you are hungry. Eat the ravioli.” Although the PCA had not objected to the line, the legion threatened to issue a condemned rating for the film unless the line about “beefsteak” was deleted from the picture. The line was eliminated and Summertime eventually received a “B” rating from the Legion of Decency. One modern source suggests that it was Lopert’s partner, Robert Dowling, who ordered that the “beefsteak” line be deleted.
       On 8 Jun 1955, DV reported that the film’ s Venice premiere was to have been shown “on the famed St. Mark’s square so that most of the entire city could view it—until the Catholic Church nixed the idea.” The article elaborated that the Church objected due to the relationship between Jane and the married Renato. The premiere was held instead at the Palazzo Grassi. According to the NYT review, the film’s New York premiere was a benefit for the American National Theatre and Academy “Salute to France.” Summertime received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. Lean was named Best Director of 1955 by the New York Film Critics Circle. Summertime marked the first time that Lean shot a picture entirely on location, a practice that he continued for the rest of his career. The picture was also Lean’s last set in a contemporary period. Modern sources report that Summertime was Lean’s favorite of his pictures, and that he became so enamored of Venice, he made it his second home. The picture's score has enjoyed continued popularity throughout the years. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Jun 1955.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jun 55
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1955.
---
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1955.
---
Film Daily
13 Jun 1955.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
18 Aug 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1955
p. 1.
Life
25 Jul 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Apr 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Jul 1955.
---
Motion Picture Daily
8 Jun 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Jun 55
p. 482.
New York Times
18 Jan 1953.
---
New York Times
12 Apr 1953.
---
New York Times
22 Aug 1954.
---
New York Times
22 Jun 55
p. 25.
New Yorker
25 Jun 1955.
---
Pix
11 Dec 1954.
---
Pix
13 Aug 1955.
---
Saturday Review
18 Jun 1955.
---
Variety
25 May 1955.
---
Variety
8 Jun 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
David Lean's production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Chief elec
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Asst to prod
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Time of the Cuckoo by Arthur Laurents, presented on Broadway by Robert Whitehead and Walter Fried (New York, 15 Oct 1952).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Time of the Cuckoo
Summer Madness
Release Date:
June 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Venice, Italy: 29 May 1955
New York opening: 21 June 1955
Production Date:
began mid July 1954 in Venice, Italy
Copyright Claimant:
Lopert Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 May 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5212
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
98-100
Countries:
United Kingdom, Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17603
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

American Jane Hudson, a middle-aged, unwed secretary, is thrilled upon her arrival in Venice, which marks her first vacation abroad. During the water bus ride to her hotel, the Pensione Fiorini, Jane meets two other Americans, Lloyd and Edith McIlhenny, who are engaged in a whirlwind European tour. Jane films their journey with her 16mm camera and revels in the unfamiliar sights and sounds of Italy. At the pensione , Jane is greeted by Signora Fiorini, a sensual widow who turned her home into a tourist boardinghouse after World War II. The gregarious Jane also meets Eddie Yaeger, a young American painter who is studying art in Italy with his wife Phyl. When the signora shows Jane her room, Jane confides that during the trip, she met a girl who was coming to Venice to find something, a “magical, mystical miracle,” that she had been missing her whole life. Signora Fiorini realizes that Jane is speaking of herself, and that she hopes to find romance. That evening, the other guests have their own plans and leave, although Jane tries to persuade them to stay for another drink. Before she also leaves, Signora Fiorini tells Jane that miracles can happen, but one must give a little push to help them along. Setting out alone, Jane runs across a street urchin, Mauro, who sells her some photographs. Jane then walks to the famed Piazza San Marco, although her initial awe wears off as she gazes sadly at the strolling couples. A lone Italian man, sitting behind her, is bemused by Jane’s attempts to cheer herself up ... +


American Jane Hudson, a middle-aged, unwed secretary, is thrilled upon her arrival in Venice, which marks her first vacation abroad. During the water bus ride to her hotel, the Pensione Fiorini, Jane meets two other Americans, Lloyd and Edith McIlhenny, who are engaged in a whirlwind European tour. Jane films their journey with her 16mm camera and revels in the unfamiliar sights and sounds of Italy. At the pensione , Jane is greeted by Signora Fiorini, a sensual widow who turned her home into a tourist boardinghouse after World War II. The gregarious Jane also meets Eddie Yaeger, a young American painter who is studying art in Italy with his wife Phyl. When the signora shows Jane her room, Jane confides that during the trip, she met a girl who was coming to Venice to find something, a “magical, mystical miracle,” that she had been missing her whole life. Signora Fiorini realizes that Jane is speaking of herself, and that she hopes to find romance. That evening, the other guests have their own plans and leave, although Jane tries to persuade them to stay for another drink. Before she also leaves, Signora Fiorini tells Jane that miracles can happen, but one must give a little push to help them along. Setting out alone, Jane runs across a street urchin, Mauro, who sells her some photographs. Jane then walks to the famed Piazza San Marco, although her initial awe wears off as she gazes sadly at the strolling couples. A lone Italian man, sitting behind her, is bemused by Jane’s attempts to cheer herself up by taking pictures with her camera, but when she sees him watching her, she hurriedly leaves. The next day, Mauro takes Jane on a tour of the city, after which she goes shopping. Enthralled by the sight of a red, glass goblet in the window of an antiques store, Jane enters and is embarrassed to find that the owner, Renato De Rossi, is the man from the previous evening. Renato, who is pleased to see Jane again, assures her that the goblet is 18th century, and when she readily agrees to his asking price, instructs her in the Italian art of bargaining. Hoping to see her again, Renato offers to search for a mate for the goblet and asks for the name of her pensione . That evening, Jane goes to the same café at the piazza and arranges her table so that she can save a seat for Renato. When Renato walks by, however, he assumes that she already has a companion, and Jane is crushed that he leaves. The following morning, Jane is again walking with Mauro, who, upon seeing her eagerness to visit the antiques store, irritates her with a comment about Venice being “different for ladies.” Disappointed that Renato is not at the shop, Jane is brusque to Mauro, who consequently does not warn her when she is shooting some film and, not seeing where she is going, falls backward into a canal. A crowd gathers as Jane swims to the steps and, soaking wet, retreats to the pensione . That evening, Renato comes by to check on Jane, who is disturbed by his frank declaration that they have been attracted to each other from their first meeting. Jane protests, stating that he is moving too quickly for her, but Renato insists that they are “simpatico” and should not waste this opportunity for happiness. Jane is about to agree to dine with Renato when the McIlhennys return from shopping, and Edith shows her a set of new, red goblets she bought. Thinking that Renato swindled her, Jane is furious, but Renato insists that her goblet is an antique, and also shows that she paid less than Edith did for her goblets. Despite Jane’s trepidation, Renato persuades her to attend a concert with him at the piazza. There, Jane is blissfully content with the grand music, stunning architecture and her charming companion. A flower seller walks by, and Renato is surprised when Jane chooses a gardenia instead of a more dramatic orchid or rose. Jane explains that in her youth, she wanted to wear a gardenia corsage to a ball, but her escort could not afford the expensive flowers. The couple are upset when Jane loses her gardenia in a canal, but continue their romantic evening, walking hand-in-hand to her pensione . Although she is at first frightened by Renato’s kiss, Jane kisses him back passionately and whispers, “I love you,” before dashing away. The next day, Jane splurges on beauty treatments and new clothes in anticipation of her date that evening with Renato. While she waits at the piazza, however, Renato’s assistant, Vito, arrives and innocently reveals that he is Renato’s son. Aghast to learn that Renato has several children and is married, Jane runs off to a bar. There, Jane finds a distraught Phyl drinking away her sorrows over her troubled marriage. Jane tries to comfort her, telling her that two is the best number, but when she returns to the pensione , Jane discovers that Eddie is having an affair with Signora Fiorini. Shocked, Jane takes out her anger on Mauro, who summoned a gondola for Eddie and Signora Fiorini. Renato arrives and stops her from shaking the confused boy, then tells her that what the signora and Eddie do is their business, not hers. Renato then reveals that he is married but separated, and confesses that he did not tell her for fear that she would end their relationship. Renato scolds Jane for being childish and wanting too much instead of taking what she can have, and Jane agrees to dine with him. After spending a delightful evening together, the couple return to Renato’s apartment and Jane’s dreams of romance are fulfilled. Jane and Renato then spend a happy idyll on the colorful island of Burano. Upon their return, however, Jane secretly makes plans to return to America. When Jane asks Renato to join her for a walk, she tells him that she is leaving in two hours because she cannot bear for their affair to continue until it ends in pain for them both, due to his marriage. Renato begs her to stay, but Jane assures him that it is always best to leave a party before the end. Although she tells Renato that she does not want him to see her off at the train station, Jane waits anxiously for him. As the train begins to move, Jane is in despair, but lights up when she sees Renato running toward her. Renato tries to pass a present to her but cannot keep up with the train as it gathers speed, and so shows her that he bought her another gardenia. Blowing a kiss of thanks, Jane then waves until he is out of sight. +

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

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