Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Summer of ’42 (1971)

by  |  November 22nd, 2010  |  Drama

Movie Poster for Summer of 42It was the fall of ’84 when I discovered the Summer of ’42…

Before TV was packed with late night infomercials, there was 2 options. Either play the National Anthem to conclude the broadcast day, then go to color bars OR play some obscure film that local networks were able to acquire the rights to very cheaply. And that’s exactly how I saw Summer of ’42, late at night while other kids slept for school the next day, I would sneak down to watch late night movies. Of course I was tired the next day, and would try to tell the other kids about this great film I saw the night before, but none could relate!?

What’s interesting is, considering I was all of 10 when I first saw Summer of ’42, is it’s ability to draw you in. Which, for a coming of age drama to captivate a 10 yr old boy, is quite unusual… to say the least.

In Summer of ’42, three friends go vacationing to their beach homes with their families. The story focuses on Hermie (Gary Grimes) a prepubescent teen, who branches off on his own journey. Hermie develops a crush on his neighbor (played by Jennifer O’Neill) who’s spending her summer alone, while her husband is off fighting in the war, before long the 2 develop a close friendship. What’s interesting is how delicately Summer of ’42 approaches the emotions of it’s characters as they explore their own thoughts and feelings.

production still

pictured are Jerry Houser, Oliver Conant and Gary Grimes

Also of note, Summer of ’42 was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, plus won Oscar for Best Music with it’s original dramatic score. I didn’t know this until researching this recommendation, but Summer of ’42 also generated a sequel “Class of ’44” where our three heroes (along with the late John Candy in an uncredited role) are now graduating high school and preparing to go out into the world. I haven’t seen the sequel yet, and tried to look for it but alas…

Directed by Robert Mulligan, who also directed another favorite of mine, Same Time Next Year (1978) starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn.

As the tag line on the poster says, “In everyone’s life there’s a Summer of ’42”, coincidentally mine was Summer of ’89 at camp Golden Slipper, and that’s a whole other story…

You might as well NetFlix it!


Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.

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