Summer Heat for a Frigid Season
It’s been a brutally cold winter for great swaths of the country, and movie fans have found warmth – and critically-backed solace – in a certain Mediterranean romantic idyll about young love juxtaposed against the discovery of rare antiquities set in sun-baked Northern Italy, director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory’s spellbinding adaptation of passionate attraction, André Aciman’s 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name (2017). Other filmmakers have taken their shot at stories involving first love and rapturous sexual couplings in exotic settings. Director Randal Kleiser (The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Grease) did so twice. His first, the 1980 remake of the Henry De Vere Stacpoole novel The Blue Lagoon, starred Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins as two Victorian-era cousins shipwrecked on a South Pacific atoll who, marooned for years after their one surviving adult companion (Leo McKern) dies, grow in their maturing fondness for and co-dependence upon each other until they consummate their relationship and start a family while struggling to survive their wilderness environment. It proved quite popular. Stimulated by the experience, Kleiser then developed an original story, both comically playful and sensually serious, set and shot on the Greek island of Santorini from August through October 1981, about a three-way romantic roundelay that involved a slightly older vacationing American couple and a French lady archaeologist. Summer Lovers(1982) starred Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah and Valérie Quennessen as the triple-threats of the title, and it explored the gray areas between casual sex and enduring love as the three interacted against a background of gorgeous locations and with generous infusions of nudity and fantasy dabbling in heterosexual and gay lovemaking. Despite its ravishing cinematography by Timothy Galfas and pop-powered soundtrack that included score music by the great Basil Poledouris and songs from Depeche Mode, Tina Turner, Elton John and Heaven 17, it was not a box-office success in theaters. Its following developed later, when its combination of paradisiacal pleasures and intense physicality invaded viewers’ homes in its video and cable afterlife, making its new-found fans warm all over. As a byproduct of that ongoing exposure, it became for some, as historian Jim Hemphill relates in his August 2015 Filmmaker conversation, The Ultimate ’80s Guilty Pleasure Movie, as you can read here: http://filmmakermagazine.com/95173-the-ultimate-80s-guilty-pleasure-movie-randal-kleiser-on-summer-lovers/#.Wl1DgktG10s. The remarkable Call Me by Your Name broadens its national theatrical release this coming weekend. Whatever one’s final judgment on SummerLovers, offered on a fine Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray with a Kleiser Audio Commentary, Screen Tests, a Making-of Documentary and a profile of prodigious composter Poledouris, it can certainly generate much-needed heat for cold winter nights.