Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams begins with idle chatter between Joanne Woodward and her mother Sylvia Sidney about lunch and tea. Fifteen minutes later the two are still debating whether to have broiled chicken and fritters. And 80 minutes later – long after mother is gone with a heart attack – Woodward and husband Martin Balsam are reminiscing about the macaroons in Atlantic City.
After one of her routine days is interrupted by the sudden death of mother, Woodward takes off for Europe with Balsam. Now the focus shifts from her woes to his as he searches for the only place his life had drama: 28 years earlier at Bastogne. He recalls the horror of two frightened days under attack, staring at the bodies of three young Germans he had killed, and the abandoned prayer he made that he would never be ungrateful for life if allowed to hold onto it.
Performances by Woodward, Balsam and Sidney (her first pic in 17 years) are first-rate, and they create genuinely tender moments. But only those past 40 and approaching 50 or more are likely to feel the depth.
1973: Nominations: Best Actress (Joanne Woodward), Supp. Actress (Sylvia Sidney)