A Summer Place (film)

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A Summer Place (film)
A Summer Place.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Delmer Daves
Screenplay by Delmer Daves
Based on A Summer Place 
by Sloan Wilson
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Harry Stradling
Edited by Owen Marks
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • November 18, 1959 (1959-11-18) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

A Summer Place is a 1959 romantic drama film based on Sloan Wilson's 1958 novel of the same name. Delmer Daves directed the movie, which stars Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, Troy Donahue, and Sandra Dee. The film is remembered for one of its musical themes.[2]


A pair of onetime teenage sweethearts and lovers, Ken (Richard Egan) and Sylvia (Dorothy McGuire), come from different social strata. Ken was a self-supporting college student, working as a lifeguard at the Maine resort of Pine Island, while Sylvia's nouveau riche family stayed as guests of the owners one summer between years at college. After their love affair, they married other people. Twenty years on, Sylvia has a son, Johnny (Troy Donahue), and Ken a daughter, Molly (Sandra Dee).

Ken has become wealthy through his work as a research chemist though his wife Helen (Constance Ford) has spurned him at home, while Sylvia's husband Bart (Arthur Kennedy), a former Naval officer who served in World War II, has turned to alcohol as his family fortune disappears and converts their island home into an inn. After twenty years away, Ken and Sylvia meet again on Pine Island. Ken brings Molly and Helen to the island, and everyone tries to be cordial. But soon old feelings, and tensions, and longings arise in the adults, while the young Johnny and Molly in turn become enamored of each other.

Ken and Sylvia fall in love once again. Bart has asked for a divorce and the custody of their son John. Ken and Helen divorce, and their daughter Molly, like John, is sent to boarding school.

Helen is not pleased, as she finds it inappropriate for Molly to be so attached to a boy. Their correspondence continues, with meetings during school breaks. Their romance culminates when they see each other again at Ken and Sylvia's beach house. The two acknowledge that they are in love with one another, and they have sex shortly after.

Back at school, Molly learns from a doctor that she is pregnant, and John hitchhikes across the country to be with and support her. Ken and Sylvia give their guarded approval, feeling hypocritical to deny them their love. Bart's alcoholism has landed him in a veterans hospital. Helen attends the wedding under sedation. The film ends with John and Molly spending their honeymoon on Pine Island, the island resort.



The movie was shot around the Monterey Peninsula.[3] Sloan Wilson wrote the first screenplay, which covered the 22-year span of the novel. Delmer Daves focused the new draft on one year. Daves said:

I have two kids who are just about the same age of these two in A Summer Place and I know how difficult communication between generations can be. And while this may sound corny, it can be assisted by love and understanding. Amid some rather tempestuous social activities, this is what we are trying to demonstrate. That there are two affairs may sound sensational but that's not the point. We have received the approval of the Johnstone office because the intent of the picture is a moral one. Frankness and impatience will help pull the cork on a situation blocked by intolerance. What we are trying to do is dramatise that pulling of the cork.[3]

Release and reception[edit]

The movie became popular after its release but had a mixed critical reception.[citation needed] Rotten Tomatoes sampled 6 reviewers and judged 83% of the reviews to be positive.[4] The 1960 hit "Theme from A Summer Place" (composed by Max Steiner), was arranged and recorded by Percy Faith and performed by his orchestra, enriched and improved on a secondary musical theme of the film; it remains a classic of its era, reaching Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks. An early instrumental version of the song was recorded by the group Los Nómadas but only gained "Top 40" recognition in Mexico, despite Zane Ashton's (also known as Bill Aken) distinctly "teen-pop" flavored arrangement. A vocal version, with lyrics by Mack Discant, was a hit for The Lettermen in 1965. Singer Dean Torrence referenced the song's melody in Jan and Dean's "Like a Summer Rain" in 1966. Recently, Kenneth Brager has done an electronic remake of it entitled "Love Won't Leave Me Alone".

In popular culture[edit]

The movie was part of a plot point in the Barry Levinson movie Diner (1982). The theme song is played in such films as The Crowded Sky (1960), The Omega Man (1971), National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), My American Cousin (1985), Back to the Beach (1987), Batman (1989), Cobb (1994), Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Bandslam (2009), and Beautiful Creatures (2013), as well as in the television miniseries Rose Red (2002).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Summer Place (1959)". BBFC (Britich Board of Film Classification). Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  2. ^ A Summer Place (1959) at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ a b ' A SUMMER PLACE' ON THE CALIFORNIA COAST By PAINE KNICKERBOCKERSAN FRANCISCO.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Apr 1959: X7.
  4. ^ "A Summer Place (1959)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 

External links[edit]