Summer of ’67 (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In the years of the Vietnam War, families faced many different unique challenges posed by the international conflict.  Milly and Gerald have recently been married, but they have been forced to live with Gerald’s eccentric mother due to financial challenges.  Milly’s sister Kate is torn between the pro-war and anti-war efforts due to her mother’s past suicide.  When Gerald and Kate’s on-and-off boyfriend Peter are called to the war front for various reasons, Milly and Kate must both live with Gerald’s eccentric mother Joanna as the world around them seems to be falling apart.  Together, they must rekindle the faith they were always taught in order to make it through.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Sharon and Fred Wilharm of Mainstreet Productions have always had a commitment to building authentic productions.  Summer of ’67 is no exception, as they demonstrate a clear attention to specific historical detail in the props, sets, and locations.  Video quality and camera work are also quite professional.  Audio quality is mostly fine as well, although the soundtrack can sometimes be too loud and somewhat out of place.  As they are still transitioning from making silent films, some adjustments like this can be expected.  Also, the editing can be a bit choppy at times, which can cause the story presentation to be confusing.  Overall, with just a few more tweaks, the Wilharms are very close to mastering professional productions, especially those in need of historical authenticity.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Unfortunately, as Mainstreet Productions used to only make silent films, the plot of Summer of ’67 is not really what it could be.  It comes off as a loose collection of ideas that need better synthesis and organization.  The good thing is that the story does unfold without narration, but some of the dialogue is slightly expository.  Outside of a few interesting conversations, unfortunately, the dialogue does not do enough to build the characters as people.  Some scenes are too short and not explained very well, and time seems to jump from one thing to the next without very clear coherency or organization.  Thus, a lot of the characters come off as shallow, even though they have potential, and a lot of story ideas seem unfinished.  While the ending is very interesting and realistic, the lead-up is not quite enough to hold the attention of the audience.  Overall, it’s clear that the Wilharms really care about trying to making great films; they are just not quite there yet in the plot department.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Another adjustment from making silent films is obviously going to be acting coaching.  While this cast is mostly fine and has a lot of potential, there are one too many scenes where the cast members don’t appear to know what they are doing.  Some of the acting is too stilted and robotic in both line and emotional delivery.  As a good note, this might be Mimi Sagadin’s best role, but she needed a bit more screen time than she was given.  On the whole, this section is mostly average.

Conclusion

We know that the Wilharms really do mean well in their films, and the historical authenticity of this production has great value.  It’s definitely going to be an adjustment to move from silent to non-silent films, so growing pains are to be expected.  However, since the Wilharms have always been committed to improving however they can, we believe that Summer of ’67 is something that can be built off of for future improvement.  Perhaps next time, if a more substantial plot is crafted, the next Mainstreet film could be Hall of Fame.

 

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

 

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4 thoughts on “Summer of ’67 (Movie Review)

  1. While I’m on my soap-box… Summer of 67 has some similarities to Flower for Fannie. Flowers for Fannie is a also purpose-driven film about how to deal with difficult people, and though it deals with only a few characters and limited situations, it does that very well. It teaches us something about how a life may be lived. Summer of 67 may be partly a romance (or 2 or 3 romances…) but I see it also as a film about interactions with difficult people, and difficult situations. Situations when your whole world is changing. Spoilers to follow:

    Some people don’t interact well, and just give up, as witnessed by the suicide of a mom. Some people cover their emotions with anger and disrespect, like Mimi’s character, in order to keep people at a distance. Her character may become a Fannie some day; she sure is trying to get there! Some people go into angry denial, and respond to peer pressure like the younger sister, who gets a well timed wake-up call to see the difference between false ‘peace’ and genuine love. She is our great turn-around story, by learning to care. Some people (like many of us) stay busy, and get through life one step at a time, always in reaction mode; like the older sister. A few, like the dad (the only character not developed well… and we can’t expect them all to be developed in an 82 minute film) just seems to be along for the ride. The gem in my book is the ‘domestic help’; what an example of knowing where to turn when things aren’t going well. Everyone you ever get close to will eventually disappoint you. Often the closest will disappoint you the most. The question is, what will we do when those incidents arise? Protest? Probably not the the best. I was a teen in 67, but I’m old enough to have been 1-A at the end of the Vietnam era. This movie shows it ‘like it was’ (other than I didn’t know anyone with a maid) as far the time. People then were often protesting in favor the very things teens today are protesting against. It’s not a matter of whether they do, or what, it’s how do I as a person deal with it when they do.

    The difference between a film with purpose and just entertainment is important. Very early films (other than slapstick) were always about purpose. Later films, with the luxury of 2 hours, tried to be all about developing all the characters, like a book. Today, because of business constraints (theaters like short features as they get more showings per day, and TV networks like them for the same reasons) films have fallen back into the 75-85 minute range. That’s also nice because people do bore easily; it’s hard to engage people for 2 hours. Watch some musical from the 40’s or 50’s and see how often your mind wanders or you go do something else for a few minutes. In most film, I really don’t care about all the characters. Do you? The solution is not to try and be exciting for the whole time, like for example, ‘The Impossible’. Yep, it keeps you interested, but it’s fatiguing! Reasonable length is a whole-lot more important than a lot of people who don’t have to sell their movies might think. I think the Wilharms did a really nice job in doing what they set out to do in this film. They handled the situation as well as they did in ‘Flowers for Fannie’, and they did it with a lot more actors and required sets, which says a lot about their level of skill. Complexity is a big thing to deal with in a film. The story is solid and believable, even though it’s pretty complex. They accomplished their purpose. I would give them a big pat on the back.

    Liked by 1 person

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