Director: DAVID LEAN

U.K.-U.S.A. • 1955 • COLOUR • 99 MIN

Adapted from Arthur Laurents’ play ‘The Time of the Cuckoo’, this is a moving tale of a dreamy Ohio spinster (Katharine Hepburn) who falls under the spell of Venice and a handsome Italian (Rossano Brazzi) whilst on holiday.
The theme of the liberating impact of Europe on an American sensibility is reminiscent of Henry James and anticipates the later Billy Wilder of ‘Avanti!’, but the highly charged imagery—bridges, trains, flowers—has David Lean’s unmistakeable stamp, as has the film’s air of guilty, overpowering eroticism. The romantic yearnings of a middle-aged heroine belong to the world of ‘Brief Encounter’, but her intoxication by the spirit of place looks ahead to the heroes and heroines of Lean’s future work. With its sumptuous location shooting and its big Hollywood star, ‘Summer Madness’ (known as ‘Summertime’ in the U.S.) marked the transition between Lean’s earlier British films and his forthcoming international phase. It was reputedly his personal favourite of the films he made, and Katharine Hepburn’s Oscar-nominated performance is one of her greatest.—Neil Sinyard.

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