Considering the amount of money it made for the studio at the time, A Summer Place has gotten very little respect in the home video market. The laserdisc, as this reviewer recalls, wasn't even letterboxed, and had no extras to speak of. The Warner Home Video DVD is a modest improvement in that department, at least including the original trailer and offering a letterboxed (about 1.85-to-1) image that's so crisp that it actually defeats some of the studio-generated reality -- the picture and sound are so sharp that you can spot when the action moves from a location to a set with barely a glance. The sharpness also gives full play to Max Steiner's lush, romantic score (of which the well-known Theme From 'A Summer Place' is just a small virtue), which is another good reason for buying this DVD. The 36 chapter markers are well-selected, and their mere presence indicates that someone spent some time on this release, even if they didn't exactly load it up with bonus features. This was one of Sandra Dee's better movies, and it's unfortunate that she didn't live long enough to have the chance to do a commentary -- she was genuinely proud of her work here, and it was a sad moment when, a few years before her death, she and co-star Troy Donahue were invited to speak at an anniversary showing of the film, only to discover that most of the audience was there to mock the movie. As the trailer reminds us, at the time in 1959, the plot -- involving illicit romance between married couples and their children -- was groundbreaking subject matter for American movies, and not the easiest kind of material to present on screen; and perhaps younger viewers should look at the trailer before looking at the movie, to get some perspective on what they're seeing.
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