A surprise success in 1971 ($20 million worth of "surprise"), The Summer of '42 is a coming-of-age piece, drenched in nostalgia. Director Robert Mulligan narrates the film as the grown-up counterpart of Hermie (Gary Grimes), a teenager of the War Years who has a crush on twentyish Jennifer O'Neill. With O'NEILL's soldier husband off to war, Grimes convinces himself that he can take hubby's place in every way. O'NEILL is amused by Grimes' attentions (confined to doing chores and carrying her groceries), but never thinks of him in sexual terms. And then, O'NEILL's husband is killed in battle. Herman Raucher based his intensely nostalgic script on his own experience, going so far as to use the real names of past acquaintances (including the Jennifer O'Neill counterpart) as character names in his screenplay. An Academy Award went to Michel LeGrand's evocative musical score. Summer of '42 was later novelized by Raucher, then followed up on screen by the less effective Class of 44.
by Hal Erickson synopsis