Saturday, February 4, 2012
A Summer Place (1959) [PART TWO IN A MULTI-PART SERIES]
"Directed" by Delmer Daves. One can only assume that a woman who checks her daughter's hymen to ensure her virginity is still intact is bound for a life of self-loathing and self-doubt and in the second half of "A Summer Place," Helen Jorgenson (Constance Ford) does not disappoint. We don't see her as much as we did in the first half, and thank goodness for that because she was driving us nuts with her one-dimensional bitching about everything. But when we do see her, she is dependably batshit crazy.
In place of the front-row seat that we had before to Helen's gradual descent into madness, in the second half of this movie we get scene after scene of Molly (Sandra Dee) and Johnny (Troy Donahue) struggling with their sexuality. This is kind of a riot considering Troy Donahue was 23 when he made this movie. "Let's be good," they say to each other, meaning not have sex. But then they do. Uh-oh.
I've read that when this film was released it received mixed reviews because of its extreme melodrama, which is confusing because it doesn't explain who gave it the good reviews necessary for them in total to be considered "mixed." I'll say this; somewhere buried deep in this 1959 film is a positive message about non-traditional families. It seems to say, even if your family is torn apart by divorce, alcoholism, adultery, bipolar disorder and teen pregnancy, as long as you're rich and white, you can pull through. Recommended.