A Summer Place (1959)
In his youth Ken Jorgenson (Richard Egan) had been a lifeguard and a tutor during the summer at the inn on the prestigious Pine Island. During that summer he dated Sylvia (Dorothy McGuire) she is now married Bart Hunter (Arthur Kennedy) whose family owned The Pine Island Inn. Now a research chemist (i.e. he has money now, lots of it) Ken is returning to the Island with his family for the summer. In tow are his beautiful teenage daughter Molly (Sandra Dee), and his neurotic and prudish wife Helen (Constance Ford). Ken and Helen’s marriage is an unhappy one with Ken and Molly constantly living under the demanding and demeaning direction of Helen. Sylvia’s marriage is equally unpleasant with Bart being lazy, near bankrupt, alcoholic. Initially, things are awkward between Sylvia and Ken; however, with rekindled interest they begin an affair. But, theirs is not the only romance blooming on the island, Molly and Johnny (Troy Donahue), Sylvia and Bart’s s son, begin a fling of their own. While on a boating excursion Johnny and Molly become stranded when the boat capsizes in rough water. They are missing until the Coast Guard locates them and returns them to Pine Island. This sets off a chain of events that changes both families forever.
For its time A Summer Place was one of the definitive Hollywood movies about teenage love. However, now it comes across as camp with its melodramatic plot, coy dialogue about sex, and over the top characters. By the 1950’s the production code had been loosening its grip on the Hollywood film industry. With its salacious plot, Warner Brothers had to promise that the intent of the film would be moral, showing the pitfalls of love.
Another star of the film is the home featured as Ken and Sylvia’s beachfront house was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 1951 for $125,000, the house still stands in Carmel, California. The house features a large stone chimney, blue metal roof, and vast windows. Wright often referred to this house as one of his favorites he designed.
A Summer Place will be shown on Thursday as part of an evening featuring 1950’s families:
There’s Always Tomorrow (1956) 8:00PM (ET)
A Summer Place (1959) 9:30PM (ET)
Our Very Own (1950) 11:45PM (ET)
A Hatful of Rain (1957) 1:30AM (ET)
Man on Fire (1957) 3:30AM (ET)