An unexpected hit, Summer of '42 provided a soothing dose of nostalgia amidst the late 1960s/early '70s cultural upheaval. Looking back to a more innocent time through a (literal) gauze of affectionate memory, Herman Raucher's Oscar-nominated wartime coming of age screenplay evokes a period of sexual naïveté and life-changing infatuations that stood in stark contrast to the Vietnam War era, revealing what had been lost. Directing a cast of relative unknowns, Robert Mulligan manages to make the tiny details ring true even as the broad strokes are somewhat too predictable; Jennifer O'Neill's performance as the enigmatic love object turned her into a star. A respite from troubled times, Summer of '42 surprised its makers by turning into the fourth highest-grossing film of 1971, becoming one of a cluster of popular early 1970s nostalgia pieces that also included The Last Picture Show (1971) and American Graffiti (1973). Robert Surtees earned an Oscar nomination for his hazily picturesque cinematography; Michel Legrand won an Oscar for his score.
by Lucia Bozzola review