Summer Storm (1944 film)
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|Directed by||Douglas Sirk|
|Screenplay by||Rowland Leigh|
|Based on||The Shooting Party|
by Anton Chekhov
|Music by||Karl Hajos|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Summer Storm is a 1944 film noir crime film directed by Douglas Sirk, and starring Linda Darnell, George Sanders, Edward Everett Horton, and Anna Lee. It was based on Anton Chekhov's 1884 novel The Shooting Party, with the screenplay written by Rowland Leigh.
After the Russian Revolution, Count Volsky visits Nadena Kalenin, the editor of a Russian book publishing company, with a manuscript written by his friend and Nadena's former fiancé, Judge Fedor Petroff.
Nadena reads the story, which begins by recounting her own romance with Fedor. Despite becoming engaged to Nadena and believing himself to be in love with her, Fedor ends up developing an attraction to Olga, a beautiful young servant belonging to the Volsky estate who becomes infatuated with him. Olga, desperate for financial security, reluctantly marries Urbenin, a fellow servant of Volsky's who is much older than she is and to whom she feels no attraction.
On Olga's wedding day, she and Fedor give in to their attraction and kiss, which is witnessed by Nadena. Nadena calls off her engagement to Fedor. Olga is eager to run away to America with Fedor, but his guilt over Nadena and Urbenin prevents him from agreeing. Olga later begins an affair with Count Volsky himself, even agreeing to divorce Urbenin and marry Volsky. Fedor discovers this and becomes mad with jealousy. He confronts Olga, but she insists nothing between them has to change - she can marry Volsky, but continue her affair with Fedor. Furious over the hold she has on him, Fedor murders Olga. Fedor questions Olga as she lays dying, pressing her to name her attacker, but Olga secretly reassures Fedor that she has forgiven him and still loves him. As she dies, Olga sees the "heavenly electricity", or lightning - the same thing which killed her own mother. Urbenin is arrested for the murder and is found guilty, and is sentenced to slave labour in Siberia.
In the present day, Nadena is shocked by what she has read and plans to send the confession to the police. Fedor discovers that Nadena has read the manuscript and hurries to her office. Nadena admits that she could not bring herself to send the manuscript, admitting that she still has feelings for Fedor and wants to see him do the right thing and confess for himself. Fedor ends up posting the manuscript, but immediately regrets his decision and attacks a postman in order to get his story back. The police are called and they shoot Fedor dead. As he dies, he claims to see the "heavenly electricity".
- George Sanders as Judge Fedor Petroff
- Linda Darnell as Olga Kuzminichna Urbenin
- Edward Everett Horton as Count "Piggy" Volsky
- Anna Lee as Nadena Kalenin
- Hugo Haas as Anton Urbenin
The film was notable in changing Linda Darnell's public image. While she had previously been playing innocent, good-natured roles, her performance as the seductive and manipulative Olga changed the public's opinion of her and transformed her into a sex symbol. She would go on to play more femme fatales in her career.
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