Summertree (1971)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 6, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Craig Butler

Very dated and unsatisfying, Summertree holds some interest as one of many 1970s era "generation gap" films and as a document of the social mores of the times, but it is rather less engaging as a drama. Part of the problem, arguably the biggest part, is that Summertree isn't peopled by characters so much as filled by talking position papers. And to make matters worse, those position papers don't stay clear as to what position they're taking. This would be fine if they were actual people and if this ambiguity were a real comment on the complexity of human life and the level of difficulty associated with the choices that had to be made, but they instead come off as contrivances existing to make the plot move, ever so hesitantly, forward. Summertree is a very boring movie, one that needs to have a forward thrust but that settles for a fits-and-starts approach. The screenplay is largely to blame, certainly in terms of the dated dialogue and unfocused approach to the story, but director Anthony Newley is equally deserving of blame. Newley] is indecisive and unsure, and there's no sense of a steady hand at work behind the camera. There are plenty of visual tricks, but they're the refuge of a man with no real ideas at hand. Ion the lead role, {$Michael Douglas is a blank, and his dull performance is damaging, but Jack Warden and Brenda Vaccaro do very well, as does Barbara Bel Degges, albeit in a criminally small role.