Summer of '42 Review

Image for Summer of '42

Three childhood friends make the uneasy transition from boys to men in one long summer. One boy succeeds in losing his virginity to an older woman who has been left a widow after her husband was killed in the War.


Set in the early days of World War II but obviously addressed to the concerns of the Vietnam generation, this slight coming-of-age romance was a major box office success in the early 70s. Three young lads spend the soft focus summer on Long Island and Grimes, the sensitive hero, loses his virginity in an affair with O'Neill, a melancholy soul who has just been widowed by the war.

Mulligan, who made To Kill A Mockingbird, tries for another mix of universal feelings and a specific time and place, but it's impossible to think of these people as 1940s characters. In the early hijinks phase, the film seems like a dry run for Porky's, but it later gets into the business of fluttering curtains, walks on sandy beaches and longing glances.

Another coming-of-age tale about three boys and their quest to become men, which invariably revolves around having sex and puerile behaviour but then changes tack completely by giving us lush scenery. If the director had remained with one idea then perhaps the end product wouldn't seem so varied.