A Summer Without Boys (1973) starring Barbara Bain, Michael Moriarty, Kay Lenz, Mildred Dunnock, Debralee Scott, Bruno Kirby directed by Jeannot Szwarc Movie Review

A Summer Without Boys (1973)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Barbara Bain and Kay Lenz in A Summer Without Boys (1973)

Understanding Abe

Ellen Hailey (Barbara Bain) needs to get away, she is middle aged and going through a divorce, so along with her teen daughter Ruth (Kay Lenz) go away to a lodge to get some space and sort things out. But whilst there she finds herself attracted to Abe (Michael Moriarty), the lodge's handyman. Unfortunately she is not the only one as Ruth is also attracted to Abe.

I didn't mention something in that brief synopsis; "A Summer Without Boys" is set in the 1940s, during the war although far away from it. That doesn't mean the war doesn't pay a prominent part in this drama, we hear radio broadcasts of the action, we have women moaning about the food on rations, one woman is missing a son who is a way at war as well as Abe struggling to deal with what the women think of him because not only is he not fighting but on the outside he looks totally healthy, unlike those who return from war injured.

Michael Moriarty in A Summer Without Boys (1973)

That is not the only drama as we also have the fact that Ruth is unaware of her parents are splitting up and Ellen feels incredibly isolated and abandoned by her husband. Yes she is a troubled figure who finds comfort in the understanding Abe who over hears her emotional conversation on the phone. There are more little dramas and subplots as well as some amusing scenes including one involving sailors and strip poker. Of course there is also the romantic conflict when it comes to the understanding Abe.

But the trouble with "A Summer Without Boys" is that it is surprisingly dull, lacking energy and atmosphere to make this war time drama spring to life. In fact whilst we have some classic songs such as "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" the first 30 minutes border on the depressing because it is so dry, slow and uninvolving. It doesn't help that director Jeannot Szwarc has taken to delivering lots of distant camera work which whilst taking in the period sets ends up keeping us very distant from the characters.

Despite all this it has to be said that the actors play their parts well with Barbara Bain and Kay Lenz doing well as the mother daughter with their individuals troubles. But the characters themselves don't really feel right, feeling too cherry picked and crafted.

What this all boils down to is that for me "A Summer Without Boys" just didn't do it for me with the whole drama being too slow, dry and uninvolving for my liking.