Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Summertime (1955, UK/US)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Summertime (1955, UK/US) (aka Summer Madness)

In this romantic melodrama by director David Lean - a British film and travelogue about a bittersweet, late love in Italy between an unmarried, puritanical, lonely vacationing American secretary and a charming Venice shopkeeper, based upon Arthur Laurents' 1952-1953 Broadway play "The Time of the Cuckoo", and providing the basis for the 1965 Broadway musical "Do I Hear A Waltz":

  • in the film's opening, single, repressed, independent-minded, middle-aged Ohio "fancy secretary" Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) was on the Orient Express train from Paris to Venice, Italy (shot on location), on her way to visit the "City of Romance"; she had finally saved up enough money to take a long-awaited 3-week tour - it was her first venture to Europe, and she excitedly took pictures with her with hand-wound single 8-mm camera
  • Jane had chosen to take a less expensive, crowded vaporetto (public water bus) to her hotel; on-board, she met other tourists: vulgar, gauche and obnoxious 'ugly Americans' Lloyd and Edith McIlhenny (MacDonald Parke and Jane Rose) from Illinois - a childless retiring couple who were on a whirlwind trip throughout all of Europe, and would be staying in Venice in the same accommodations
  • she had booked a room at a quiet guest boarding house (the Pensione Fiorini) on the Accademia "instead of in a hotel full of tourists, like me" - as she boasted; there, she became acquainted with widowed Signora Fiorini (Isa Miranda), a sensual woman who owned and ran the Pensione - her converted home after her husband died during the war

Jane (Katharine Hepburn) on the Orient Express Train from Paris to Venice (with her camera)

Two 'Ugly Americans' in Venice: the McIlhennys (MacDonald Parke and Jane Rose)

Other Pensione Guests: Eddie Yaeger (Darren McGavin) With Wife Phyl (Mari Aldon)
  • in the third person (referring to herself), Jane confided to the Signora that she met a young girl on the boat trip coming over who was hoping to "find something" and experience a "wonderful, mystical, magical miracle" (of true love) in Venice, to "find what she's been missing all her life," rather than just visiting the normal tourist-sites (the art, the architecture and the canals)
  • Jane soon met other guests at the Pensione: young American artist-painter Eddie Yaeger (Darren McGavin) with his wife Phyl Yaeger (Mari Aldon)
  • soon after, Jane was befriended on the street by young homeless urchin Mauro (Gaetano Autiero); she bought postcards from him as an excuse to insist that he use the money for food; after hearing towering church bells pealing, she rushed to the famed Piazza San Marco on her first evening
  • as she sat at a table by herself at an outdoor cafe in the crowded Piazza, she continued to feel out of place, lonely, and awkward when surrounded by loving couples; the prim spinster realized that a lone, handsome and suave Italian man sitting behind her was observing her picture-taking; Jane quickly becoming embarrassed, put on dark sunglasses and left; she ended up sitting alone by a canal and turning melancholy

Jane Observed in an Outdoor Cafe in the Piazza

Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi) Watching Jane From Behind

A Melancholy Jane Sitting Alone by a Canal
  • the next day after touring parts of Venice with Mauro, Jane went shopping, and a red glass goblet in the window of an antique shop caught her attention; she impulsively entered the chaotic, disorderly store where she formally met the silver-haired, antiques-shop owner Renato de Rossi (Rossano Brazzi) - the same man from the cafe the night before; she was quickly charmed by him as he encouraged her to buy the goblet after claiming it was an authentic 18th-century artifact; he explained to her the art of bargaining ("It is part of the buying and selling") and convinced her to pay 8,700 liras rather than just paying his asking price of 10,000 liras
  • to assure that he would see Jane again, Renato asked for her address so that he could notify her of a matching goblet: ("I think it is possible I may find one") [Note: The idea of finding a matching antique goblet for her was a reflection of the 'doubling motif' theme of Jane's search for a mate.]
  • that evening, Jane returned to the outdoor cafe in the Piazza, where she anticipated seeing Renato again; she actually saved a seat for him next to her, but he misinterpreted that she already had a male companion; he briefly greeted her with a "Good evening," and then walked away
  • the next day while taking pictures of the outside of the antique shop, Jane embarrassed herself by accidentally falling backwards into a Venetian canal; she told the onlookers as she was taken out of the water ("You should've seen me in the Olympics"); Mauro assisted her to return to the Pensione
Jane's Fall into a Venetian Canal
  • that evening during a visit by Renato to Jane's pensione, he declared that they clearly seemed to be in synch: ("I knew you're simpatico") and were attracted to each other, and should not waste any more time in finding happiness ("We saw each other. We like each other. This is so nice. How can it be wrong?"); Jane disagreed and expressed her uncertainty about how fast he had become interested in her
  • they were interrupted by Edith's arrival to show off her latest shopping purchase - a set of six newly-made red goblets for 10,000 liras; Jane became disillusioned and indignantly furious when she suspected that Renato was producing fake red glass goblets and lying about their age - treating her like a naive tourist; but he sweet-talked her into believing him that he hadn't cheated her; she couldn't resist his romantic attentions, succumbed and agreed to have dinner with him on a formal date
Jane and Renato's First Dinner Date

Dinner and Concert-Going Under a Full Moon in the Piazza

Jane Selecting a White Gardenia From a Flower Vendor

Renato Unable to Retrieve Jane's Dropped Gardenia in Canal

Two Goodnight Kisses Before Parting
  • Jane joined Renato to attend a moonlit orchestral concert (playing Rossini's Overture to "The Thieving Magpie") in the Piazza San Marco; during the concert, Jane selected a gardenia as her favorite flower (instead of a rose or carnation) from a flower vendor; later as they strolled along the canals, Jane accidentally dropped her gardenia into the water (and Renato was unable to reach out and retrieve it for her - a foreshadowing of the film's final scene); after being escorted back to the Pensione, Renato kissed Jane - and she was shocked: "Why did you do that?...I don't think I want to see you again," but then accepted more kisses after hurriedly responding: "Oh, but --- I love you" before running off and adding "Tomorrow"
  • the next day in the piazza after a hair salon treatment and clothes shopping (purchasing red shoes and a black evening dress), while she awaited Renato's arrival for another date at 8 pm at the cafe, Jane met Renato's "nephew" Vito (Jeremy Spenser) who relayed a message that Renato would be late; during their conversation, she realized that Renato had lied to her earlier, and that Vito was actually his eldest son - it was a stunning revelation to Jane - Renato was a married man! (although separated and in a loveless marriage)
  • feeling miserable, Jane left the cafe and in a bar, she met and spoke to Phyl from the pensione who told her about problems with her husband Eddie - he was having an affair with the Pensione's owner-manager Signora Fiorini
  • Renato arrived and tried to explain why he had kept his marital status a secret: ("It would end us before we began"); he tried to convince Jane that she shouldn't get involved in others' marital problems; Renato also admitted that he was separated from his wife, and that Jane's expectations were all wrong: "You're like a hungry child who was given ravioli to eat. No, you say, I want beefsteak. Young girl, you are hungry. Eat that ravioli" - she responded that she wasn't desperate: " I'm not that hungry"; Jane specified that her trip hadn't turned out the way she thought it would be: ("I come from such a different world and I'm not going to be here long"), but then kissed him
  • she refused his invitation for food and drink, and wished to be alone, but then joined Renato for dinner and a night of dancing in various clubs - it was a classic sequence of seduction; he sang "Summertime In Venice" in Italian to her as they danced; afterwards, she was led back to his Venice canal home where from his balcony as they kissed, they watched a brilliant fireworks display (metaphoric for sexual passion - as in Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955)) she dropped one of her new red shoes (a passionate color, and a symbolic transformation of the red goblets!) while following him into the apartment's bedroom for a mid-1950s romantic consummation (off-screen)
  • at dawn, they walked hand-in-hand together through the empty piazza square; she hailed a gondola, and they waved goodbye to each other as she returned to her pensione; afterwards for a few days, they traveled by speed-boat to the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon ("the island where the rainbow fell"); at sunset they reclined on a meadow by the water and kissed for further romance

Last Day in Cafe

"I'm leaving today"

Waving Goodbye From a Gondola to Renato
  • shortly later back in Venice at the cafe, Jane confessed: "I don't want to forget any of it"; and then next to a Venetian canal, Jane abruptly announced to him that she had decided to return home early and end their affair; she was packed and leaving in just a few hours; she admitted that she was very happy: ("It's the happiest time I've had in my whole life"), but she feared that their relationship would end unhappily if she overstayed her visit: ("Because we have to. Because it's wrong, and because you and l would only end in nothing"); she expressed how she didn't want him to see her off at the train station for her departure: ("Let me go by myself"), but secretly hoped that he would be there; she kissed him and raced off, and then waved to him from her departing gondola
  • at the Venice train station's platform as she was about to leave, street urchin Mauro said goodbye and gave her a gift of a pen; as the train pulled away, Renato ran alongside but was unable to reach her with another parting gift (a box holding another white gardenia) and she called out: "Renato!" in the film's ambiguous conclusion

Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) Arriving at the Pensione Fiorini in Venice, Italy

Signora Fiorini (Isa Miranda) - Pensione Owner-Manager

Jane - Feeling Very Lonely in Venice

Jane Befriending Street Urchin Boy Mauro (Gaetano Autiero)

A Red Goblet in an Antiques Shop Window

Jane Meeting the Shop Owner - Renato

Jane at the Outdoor Cafe - Pretending to Have A Male Companion Next to Her

Renato to Jane: "I know we're simpatico"

Edith's Purchase of Six Red Goblets

Jane's Indignation at Renato - She Suspected Him of Swindling Her

Angered and Upset at Renato For Possibly Lying to Her

Kissing After Learning that Renato Was Married (But Separated)

Dancing With Renato

Kissing on His Balcony Under the Fireworks

Dropped Red Shoe on Balcony

Speedboat to Island of Burano For a Few Days

Goodbye At the Train Station


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