Review: ‘Summer Children’

Completed but never released and assumed lost, 1965 U.S. indie "Summer Children" is no rediscovered classic.

Completed but never released and assumed lost, 1965 U.S. indie “Summer Children” is no rediscovered classic — or even a very good movie — but it does illustrate an interesting moment just before the censorship walls came tumbling down, when U.S. filmmakers were trying to push toward more adult themes. Tale of a contentious weekend among some not-so-young restless Southern California youth is perhaps most notable for showcasing early work by future cinematography great Vilmos Zsigmond. Restored print is being released to DVD following the pic’s 46-year-belated Slamdance world premiere.

Moody playboy West (Stuart Anderson) and cocky motorcycle racer Frankie (John Kulhanek) are among those aboard West’s yacht for a few days’ fun and sun, heading to the Catalina Islands where there’s a “big blast at the Hut” Saturday night — which occasion allows for some impressive frugging and undistinguished songs by short-lived rock quartet the Deacons. West and Frankie struggle over who’s alpha-male enough to win soulful blonde Diana (Valora Nolan). Arch hipster dialogue, brief toplessness and a general mood of angsty disaffection locate the pic halfway between exploitation and arthouse terrain, with Zsigmond’s black-and-white expressive lensing exemplifying the latter.

Summer Children


A Robinette Prods. presentation. Produced by Jack Robinette. Restoration producer, Edie Robinette-Petrachi. Directed by James Bruner. Screenplay, Norman Handelsman, based on a story by Bruner.


Camera (B&W), Vilmos Zsigmond; editor, Marvin Walowitz; music, Jamie Mendoza-Nava; production designer, Leon Ericksen. Reviewed on DVD, Park City, Jan. 22, 2011. (In Slamdance Film Festival -- Special Screenings.) Running time: 82 MIN.


Stuart Anderson, Valora Noland, John Kulhanek, Sandy Gabriel, Steve Bobbitt, Neil Westen, Alison Julian, Frank Luther, Christine Kazan, David Arkin, Le Wainer, Mike Randies, William Schrodder, Finni Ferrari, the Deacons.

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