Summer of '42 (1971)

In everyone's life there's a "Summer of '42"

Over the summer of 1942 on Nantucket Island, three friends -- Hermie, Oscy and Benjie -- are more concerned with getting laid than anything else. Hermie falls in love with the married Dorothy, whose husband is an army pilot recently sent to the battlefront of World War II.

Sex-obsessed boys on Nantucket in 1942
RELEASED IN 1971 and directed by Robert Mulligan, "Summer of '42” is the biographical drama of Herman “Hermie” Raucher (Gary Grimes) coming of age at 15 during the titular season & year on Nantucket Island. He and his two pals, Oscy and Benji, hang out on the island learning about sex and chasing girls. Meanwhile, Hermie is an awe of a 21 year-old woman (Jennifer O'Neill) whose soldier husband is off fighting WWII.
This is such a well-done classic film from the early 70s. The island locales are breathtaking while the story is low-key realistic, which is fitting since it was based on a real-life. It’s basically about a teenage boy in awe of a beautiful adult whoa-man of whom O’Neill voluptuously fills the bill. Hermie has a mature, spiritual attitude toward love & sex, which is contrasted by Oscy’s juvenile, animalistic approach.
The movie’s not meant to provoke “controversy” but rather to just show the way it was and what happened. The same type of story happened and happens to mid-teens in every community all over North America and the world to this day. I’m not saying it’s right or wise on the adult’s part (it’s not), but simply that it happens; and the teen WANTED it, boy or girl. That said, there’s some ambiguity to the ending and it’s not 100% certain that such-and-such occurred.
The outstanding “Last Summer” (1969) is a comparable movie, but with an unpleasant edge. Both films take place on island beaches during the summer and involve teens coming of age. Both films involve a disturbing element. But “Last Summer” is ugly in a significant way whereas “Summer of ’42” maintains a sense of awe and beauty. “The Outsiders” (1983) is also a little comparable, particularly the theater sequence.
WATCH OUT for notable cutie Christopher Norris as Oscy’s wannabe date, Miriam. If you’re not familiar with her, be sure to check her out in Ron Howard’s “Eat My Dust” (1976) where she’s mind-blowing.
THE FILM RUNS 1 hour, 44 minutes and was shot in Mendocino in Northern California and a couple other places in California. They had intended to shoot it on Nantucket, where the true story occurred, but the island had changed so much since 1942 that it proved more feasible to simply find another, underdeveloped locale as a substitute.

Warner Bros. Pictures by Robert Mulligan, Herman Raucher.
Stars: Jennifer O'Neill, Gary Grimes, Jerry Houser, Oliver Conant.

Genres: Drama, Romance

Keywords: age difference beach obsession world war ii sexual frustration island sand coming of age teenager summer vacation beach house first love older woman younger man relationship sexual awakening 1940s summer cottage soldier's wife


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