|Directed by||Frank Perry|
|Written by||Eleanor Perry|
|Based on||Last Summer|
by Evan Hunter
|Edited by||Sidney Katz|
|Music by||John Simon|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists|
|Box office||$3 million (rentals)|
Last Summer is a 1969 coming-of-age film about adolescent sexuality based on the 1968 novel Last Summer by Evan Hunter. Director Frank Perry filmed at Fire Island locations. It stars Catherine Burns, Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davison and Richard Thomas. Burns' performance earned her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and she won a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award.
Dan and Peter, two youths vacationing on Fire Island, befriend a young woman named Sandy, who has found an injured seagull on a beach. While nursing the seagull back to health, the three friends spend time experimenting with alcohol, marijuana, and their own sexuality. The trio make the acquaintance of a slightly younger teenager, Rhoda, a shy, plump girl who confides in the others that her mother died in a drowning accident. One day, the boys find that Sandy has killed the seagull after it bit her. The three older friends pull a prank by arranging a dinner date with an older man, Anibal, through a computer dating service, getting him drunk, and then abandoning him to a group of local bullies, despite Rhoda's protests. Tension builds between Rhoda and the three older teens, and in the final sequence Dan, Peter, and Sandy pin down Rhoda near the beach as Dan rapes her. After the attack, the trio walk away, leaving Rhoda behind near a sand dune.
The film had a soundtrack album (Warner Bros.-Seven Arts WS 1791) of the score composed by John Simon and Collin Walcott. Heard on the soundtrack: John Simon (piano), Collin Walcott (sitar, tamboura), Aunt Mary's Transcendental Slip and Lurch Band (rock band), Cyrus Faryar (voice), Buddy Bruno (voice), Ray Draper (tuba, voice), Electric Meatball (rock band), Henry Diltz (banjo, voice), Bad Kharma Dan and the Bicycle Brothers (motorcycle gang). Rick Danko, Levon Helm and Richard Manuel of The Band played on the soundtrack as well, but were uncredited due because they recorded for another record label.
The film received positive reviews. Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars, writing:
From time to time you find yourself wondering if there will ever be a movie that understands life the way you've experienced it. There are good movies about other people's lives, but rarely a movie that recalls, if only for a scene or two, the sense and flavor of life the way you remember it.
Adolescence is a period that most people, I imagine, remember rather well. For the first time in your life important things were happening to you; you were growing up; what mattered to you made a difference...[On] top of the desire to be brave and honorable, there was also the compelling desire to be accepted, to be admitted to membership in that adolescent society defined only by those excluded from it...
Frank Perry's "Last Summer" is about exactly such years and days, about exactly that time in the life of four 15- or 16-year-old adolescents, and it is one of the finest, truest, most deeply felt movies in my experience.