Oscar History

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Entries in Summertime (4)

Jul 16 2014

A Year with Kate: Summertime (1955)

Episode 29 of 52:In which David Lean's beautiful romantic classic gives Katharine Hepburn an eye infection and me a headache

I admit it.The spinster movies confuse me.When Nick and Nathaniel invited me on the podcast (Have you listened to the podcast?Go listen to the podcast),I stated outright that I don't likeSummertime.As a fan,I take almost personal offense hearing my idol continuously called "plain"or (at best) "interesting-looking."

But as acinephile,David Lean's 1955 love letter to Venice engages me.I can't help it.I'm a sucker for a scopophilic travelogue cinematography.And trains.And Technicolor films that overuse the color red.And judging from last year'sHit Me With Your Best Shotsubmissions forSummertime,many of you share my inner conflict.

Summertimeis more a mood piece than a plot-driven story.David Lean exorcised most of the third act from Arthur Laurents' original play,Time of the Cuckoo,in order to create a sweetly romantic view of Venice,love,and September romance.Kate plays Jane Hudson,a secretary from Akron,Ohio who comes to Venice for… something.Adventure,maybe?Hanging out the window of the train to the city with her 8mm camera rolling,Jane proves herself immediately to be a curious and active observer.

Red goblets be damned;that 8mm camera is most important object in David Lean's movie.[More...]

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Jul 14 2014

Podcast: Katharine with a side of Bette!

In this special edition of the podcast,Nathaniel welcomes two Katharine Hepburn buffsNick DavisandAnne Marie Kellyto talk about their (shared) first Actress Obsession.NaturallyKate the Greatisn't the only diva that finds her way into the conversation.Expect supporting roles or cameos: Bette Davis,Cary Grant,Barbara Stanwyck,Tennessee Williams,Deborah Kerr,Spencer Tracy,Audrey Hepburn,George Cukor and more...

You can listen at the bottom of the postordownload the conversation on iTunes.Continue the conversation in the comments.

00:00 Intro.Plus Middle School drama: Hilariously "intense"early obsessions
13:00 Types,Genres,andSuddenly Last Summer
17:00 Her autobiography and films she loathed likeDragon Seed
22:00 Chemistry and co-stars
33:00 Revisiting unsatisfying movies -- raise a cocktail to this peculiar cinephile habit
40:00 The Spinster & The Magic Penis
47:00 Bette Davis and why we compare them.Silliness before the sign off.

Further Reading
Hit Me With Your Best Shot:Summertime
Nick's Hepburn Oscar Profile
A Year With Kate:Pat & Mike
A Year With Kate:Dragon Seed
A Year With Kate:Christopher Strong
Me: Stories of My Life(Book)
The Making ofthe African Queen(Book)
Alex Von Tunzelmann & Self Styled Siren(Twitter)

Kate with a side of Bette

May 11 2013

Visual Index ~ Summertime (1955)

When I scheduledSummertimefor the"Hit Me..."seriesI admit I expect a huge drop off in participation due to its lack of any significant or least still-discussed reputation in the careers of David Lean and Katharine Hepburn.So I was pleasantly surprised to see such a crowd hopping on the water buses in Venice with Kate as Jane Hudson (hee.no,notthatJane Hudson).

What a difference a year has made in this series.Last year,I couldn't get a crowd forBonnie & F'in Clyde.I almost retired the series.So thank you to the many new participants and the very reliably regulars who have stuck with this series through its popular and fallow episodes.There are only three episodes left before a June hiatus and I hope you'll stick around and get reenergize from a month of No Viewing Assignments.I am a taskmaster I know...but a benevolent one!I bring you good movies.

5/15The Talented Mr Ripley(1999)
5/22Fantasia(1941...special instructions)
5/29Hud(1963) 50th Anniversary!

But for now,let's look at the selected Best Shots fromSummertimein narrative order (though I fear my order is off here since the film isn't very plotty).It's like watching a slide show of your neighborhood spinster's summer vacation!

Y'all packed?Let's go...

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May 09 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Summertime"

For this week's episode of Best Shot,the collective seriesin which bloggers are invited to choose their favorite image from a pre-selected movie,we went to Italy for David Lean'sSummertime(1955) starring Katharine Hepburn.The film won both of them Oscar nominations,for Direction and Acting respectively,and since I'd never seen it it fills in two Oscar gaps in my 1950s cinema.

It's a relatively modest picture all told,concerned not with big sweeping travelogue beauty (though the travelogue beauty is accounted for) but with an internal flowering.Spinster Katharine Hepburn goes to Italy,goes a little wild (well,wild for an American spinster from Akron Ohio),and then -- spoiler alert -- leaves Italy again.It's all very E.M.Forster really!(SeeA Room With a ViewandWhere Angels Fear to Tread).

She was coming to Europe to find something.It was way back in the back of her mind was something she was looking for,a wonderful mystical magical miracle.I guess to find what she'd been missing all her life."

My runner up shot comes early in the picture and I include it because I love the way it dialogues with my favorite image at the movie's end.Jane Hudson has just arrived at her summer home,and she has a conversation with her landlady about a girl she met on the way to Italy.She describes in detail the reasons the girl is travelling abroad.Jane is too guileless to be talking about herself in the third person but she is,in essence,talking about herself,whether or not she knows it.She's also prophesying her own journey including an amusing a "let loose a bit"comment that Katharine waves off with prudish modesty.

I find the light in this sequence quite astute.The women are not in silhouette exactly -- the scene is about Jane,after all,rather than Italy -- but Italy is bright and beckoning anyway.She's not really looking at Italy...not yet at least...wrapped up as she is in connecting with other people (she hopes to make friends) and her own internal possibilities.

I often find Hepburn a little too fussy as an actress -- particularly in her later work -- but I think she's marvelous in key scenes here really capturing Jane's internal battle between her desire to connect and her own internal nature.Even in the scenes which are very much about her attraction to Renalto (Rosanno Brazzi) she's often just looking off into space and,one assumes,her own thoughts.Jane's just not very good at connecting for as much as she'd like to.She has too many fussy walls up.

I think that's why I found the final scene so moving,despite not particularly caring for the movie.My choice for best shot comes with the film's ending.Jane has opted to leave Italy and Romantic Love behind.She likens it to leaving a party before she's worn out her welcome.It's common sense really given the circumstances of the affair but you hurt for her for giving up the thing she's always wanted and you have to wonder if it isn't partially fear and retreat to a safer lonelier home.Whether or not Jane will be more open to love after the movie is up for debate.Yet in that sudden alarming lurch outward to wave goodbye one last time to Renato (but really,to Italy and Love) I think Hepburn's gestural performance provides a marvelous clue.If returning to Ohio is,in fact,a comfort zone retreat why does her body move with such spirited abandon?

Next Week
We're staying in Italy forThe Talented Mr Ripley(1999).You know you want to sound off on that one.So join us,will ya?

14 More People Summering in Italy with Hepburn
Amiresqueis overwhelmed by architecture
Encore's Worldon the quintessential 'spinster' performance from Hepburn
Antagony & Ecstasywants to talk about Aspect Ratios...and perceptions of "low points"
The Film's The Thinga Cinderella of a certain age
Cinema Enthusiastgoes to a real ball with gardenias
We Recycle Movieson David Lean's undeniable obsession with trains
Pussy Goes Grrrthis is how you stage a breakup
Cinesnatchreally goes all out with shot commentary,contrasts and travelogue beauty
Film Actuallyhas coffee -- or doesn't rather -- with Hepburn
She Blogged By Nightpicks the first shot I think we've ever seen in this series devoted to an extra.It's beautiful!
Los Mejores Planosgives out gold,silver and bronze medals for his favorite shots
Cal Rothsees Jane's secret sensuality
Dancin' Danon the scene that makes the movie
My New Plaid Pantsmemories of Italy come flooding back