Blu-Ray Review: Summertime

Today, David Lean is best remembered for classics such as Laurence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Brief Encounter and Doctor Zhivago. However, he made almost twenty films in an illustrious career spanning five decades. While some have become a little lost in time that doesn’t mean to say they aren’t any good. Indeed, many are ripe for rediscovery. That is certainly the case with one from the 1950s, Summertime.

Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) is an unmarried middle-aged secretary from Ohio who is excited to arrive in Venice and experience its magic. Determined to capture everything and to see the authentic city. However, while it’s a mecca for lovers it can also be a lonely place for the sole traveller and she soon feels isolated. A chance encounter with a charming man (Rossano Brazzi) promises the hope of something more.

Summertime is very much a vehicle for Hepburn and she certainly makes the most of it. Transporting the audience through a whole spectrum of emotions, all with a veneer of amiability and occasional melodrama. It’s both a rather showy and distinctly understated film from Lean. Indeed, the star of the show is arguably Venice itself. Captured so vividly by Jack Hildyard’s sumptuous cinematography. Summertime is an intelligent and well-acted romantic drama.


  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on
  • New interview with film historian Melanie Williams
  • Interview with director David Lean from 1963
  • Audio excerpts of a 1988 interview with cinematographer Jack Hildyard
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Stephanie Zacharek

Summertime is released on Blu-ray in the UK as part of the Criterion Collection on 25 July.

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