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Summer Place

DVD please? I saw this movie when it aired on A&E, and it captivated me as a child, and still does as an adult. The theme song is great, and I still find myself listening to it!!! I became a fan of Sandra Dee’s after I saw her in “Gidget” and “Imitation Of Life” … and I thought her performance was so real and heart-wrenching. Constance Ford, as her bitchy, controlling mother Helen, gives a strong portrayal of a bitter, frigid, unhappy woman who takes her anguish out on everyone around her, even her daughter. (She really gives Mommie Dearest a run for her money). The scene where she forces Molly to submit to a pelvic exam after she and lover-boy Johnny (the late Troy Donahue) have an accident on the beach (the boat capsizes) is horrible and makes the viewer grimace. The fact that the doctor was old and gross looking, and began to unbutton Molly’s blouse without her consent, as she screamed, “Oh please, no, I want my father! I’ve been a good girl! I haven’t done anything wrong!!” makes it uncomfortable, but it also makes you despise Ford’s character, as I’m sure that was the intention. Richard Egan as Molly’s father Ken, is so handsome and gentle at times (he was equally effective in Walt Disney’s “Pollyanna” as Dr. Chilton) is a man who is trapped in a loveless marriage who finds and falls in love again with Dorothy McGuire, as Sylvia, his first love, who also happens to be the mother of Molly’s boyfriend, Johnny!!! One of Egan’s best lines is as he and Helen are having an explosive argument. Ken finishes off his end by saying, “Why must you insist on making sex itself a filthy word!” Arthur Kennedy, as Johnny’s drunken father Bart was one of the actor’s best later performances. The conflict between the two couples and the predicament that follows (Molly becomes pregnant by Johnny) was considered racy for its day, but considering how little is shown, you have to wonder what all the fuss was about!!! (Although the “King Kong” reference could bear some debate on that subject). The argument between Molly and her mother at the beginning of the movie, sums up the times and also, in a way, the relationships between mothers and daughters. Molly: “Daddy, do I have to?” Ken: “Do you have to what?” Molly: “Wear this middy blouse to shore like a twelve-year-old! And she says I have to wear this armor-padded bra to flattenme out and a girdle! This thing even hurts, and I couldn’t squeeze into this girdle with dynamite!” It appears to be a soapy melodrama, but it really is a touching piece of nostalgia. Let’s hope a DVD release is in the works!!! We all need to get away to “A Summer Place”!!!!!!!!

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