Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Summer of '42 (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Summer of '42 (1971)

In director Robert Mulligan's bittersweet, melancholy, war-time, New England beachside summer romance and coming-of-age tale, it featured Michel Legrand's recognizable, Oscar-winning dramatic score, some soft-focus cinematography, and an Academy Award nomination for Herman Raucher's Best Screenplay:

  • the setting for the rites-of-passage romantic drama was the nostalgic atmosphere of 1940s Nantucket Island, seen in flashback 30 years later; it was narrated (with opening and closing comments) by the grown-up adult version of young, sensitive minded 15 year-old teenager Herman "Hermie" Raucher (Gary Grimes)
  • during the summer of 1942, a time of war, Hermie and his two teenaged friends were vacationing with their families - visiting the island off the Eastern seaboard; a trio of sex-obsessed male friends included Hermie, the group's leader Oscar "Oscy" Seltzer (Jerry Houser) and nerdy, shy and immature Benjie (Oliver Conant); they often expressed their sexual awkardness and desire to lose their virginity, and perused sexual manuals to learn about sexual intercourse (and how to achieve it in 12 steps)
  • Hermie hopelessly fell in love, at a distance with a neighbor - beautiful 22 year-old, newly-married war bride Dorothy (Jennifer O'Neill); he became acquainted with her by helping her to carry groceries, and by performing chores (such as moving boxes into the attic), after her recently-drafted husband departed for the war front
  • during a night at the movies (watching the romantic drama Now, Voyager (1942)), Hermie was with Aggie (Katherine Allentuck), while Oscy chose to accompany flirtatious Miriam (Christopher Norris); Benjie was too fearful of the opposite sex to stick around; during the film's screening, both Hermie and Oscy awkwardly made out with their young dates; humorously, Hermie wrongly believed he was stroking his date's breast, but it was actually her arm
  • in one comic vignette, in preparation for a beach marshmallow roast (and possible sexual contact with their dates), Hermie was coaxed into nervously purchasing a condom from an unsympathetic storeowner
  • a tearjerking romance and sexual awakening occurred for Hermie when he visited Dorothy one evening; as he entered the dimly-lit house, a phonograph needle was stuck on a record; in the living room, he noticed a bottle of alcohol and a glass, and an ashtray stuffed with cigarette butts; he discovered that Dorothy had just learned via a government telegram that her husband had been killed in action (his plane was shot down over France)
  • with tears in her eyes and slightly drunk, she put her head on Hermie's shoulder, and slowly danced (barefooted) with him to the tune (the film's theme song) playing on a phonograph record; she also tenderly kissed him a few times

Tender Kisses Between Hermie and Dorothy
  • after kissing him (as the phonograph needle reached the end of the record), with only the sound of the waves on the soundtrack, she wordlessly beckoned him; she took him by the hand, and led him to her bedroom for comfort; she slowly removed her white slip over her head, prepared the bed, and then removed her bra and panties before they gently entered her bed naked together
Together In the Bedroom
  • when Hermie left her later that evening, she was outside on the porch in a robe, smoking a cigarette; she gave him a simple "Good night, Hermie" - and that was the last time he saw her
  • the next day, when Hermie returned to Dorothy's beach house, he saw that she had left a note for him (inside an envelope attached to the front door); he sat down on the porch to read it; she explained (in voice-over) that perhaps the meaning of the event would come to him in time, and she hoped that he would not face senseless tragedies in his life: ("Dear Hermie: I must go home now. I'm sure you'll understand. There's much I have to do. I won't try and explain what happened last night because I know that, in time, you'll find a proper way in which to remember it. What I will do is remember you. And I pray that you be spared all senseless tragedies. I wish you good things, Hermie. Only good things. Always, Dorothy"), to the swelling sounds of Michel Legrande's theme music
  • the final bitter-sweet and sentimental voice-over came from the Narrator, middle-aged Herman Raucher (voice of Robert Mulligan), as he thought back to that fateful summer of 1942: "I was never to see her again. Nor was I ever to learn what became of her. We were different then. Kids were different. It took us longer to understand the things we felt. Life is made up of small comings and goings. And for everything we take with us, there is something that we leave behind. In the summer of '42, we raided the Coast Guard station four times, we saw five movies, and had nine days of rain. Benji broke his watch, Oscy gave up the harmonica, and in a very special way, I lost Hermie forever"

Slow-Dancing: Hermie with Dorothy

"Good night, Hermie"

Dorothy's Note Left for Hermie

Film's Ending - Last Look at the Beach House


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