During summer vacation on Fire Island, three young people–a girl and two guys–become so close that they form a sort-of threesome. When an uncool girl tries to infiltrate the trio’s newly found relationship, they construct an elaborate plot that has violent results.
Director Frank Perry’s insightful, probing, and realistic beach film (unlike the Beach Party films earlier in the decade) was about angst-ridden, self-doubting adolescent youth. The tagline described:
“Last summer was too beautiful to forget…and too painful to remember.”
The film daringly explored teenage interest and curiosity about sex (and petting), pot experimentation, and revealing games of ‘absolute truth or dare.’ It was originally rated X by the MPAA when it was first released, but after some cuts were made to the infamous rape scene, the film’s rating was changed to an R.
It told about three affluent teens (a teen love triangle) who first met during a Fire Island, New York summer vacation, while the female was tending to a wounded, half-dead seagull:
Sandy (Barbara Hershey), a tanned and pretty brunette, domineering, promiscuous and independent
Peter (Richard Thomas), sensitive
Dan (Bruce Davison), brash
In one scene while relaxing on a boat out on the water, frustrated Sandy chided Peter – annoyed with his sexual obsession over her breasts and how he incessantly stared at them:
Sandy: “God, if you’re gonna be thinking about my breasts all the goddamn time!”
Peter (defensively): “I don’t think about them all the goddamn time. I was just thinking about ’em now.”
He asked her to take off her top – she obliged – and then after getting a brief glimpse of her breasts, he told her to put the top back on.
The trio was forever altered with the arrival of a troubled late-comer, 15 year-old outsider Rhoda (Oscar-nominated Catherine Burns), a slightly plump, homely and self-conscious awkward teen. During the film’s best acted scene, Rhoda delivered a monologue recalling her mother’s death by drowning.
During a scene of sexual challenge and coming-of-age after Rhoda was tested to buy and wear a new bikini, everyone was in a forest clearing drinking Heineken beer. Bikinied Sandy poured beer over her breasts (exclaimed: “That’s better”), and then defiantly removed her bikini top and took another swig of beer. Her subsequent conversation with rival Rhoda was combative and daring:
Sandy: “What’s wrong?”
Sandy: “You look like you’re gonna choke.”
Dan: “Is she gonna swallow her braces?” (Rhoda and then Sandy stood up.)
Sandy: “Where are you going?”
Sandy: “Don’t go, we want you to stay. Peter wants you to stay.”
Rhoda: “Here, put your top on, Sandy.”
Rhoda: “They can see.”
Sandy: “So what?”
Dan: “Why don’t you take yours off, Rhoda?”
Sandy: “That’s a super idea.” (Rhoda was blocked from leaving)
Sandy: “Do it, Rhoda.”
Peter: “Do it, Rhoda.”
Rhoda: “Peter, please.”
Peter: “Do it.”
Sandy: “Let me see what you’ve got to show.”
The group held her down, completely ripped off her bikini, and Rhoda (who vainly begged Peter to stop them) was forced to endure a collective rape by Dan. Afterwards, as Rhoda laid motionless on the ground, the other three dressed, and stood facing away from their victim. The film ended ambiguously and abruptly, with the group walking up the beach – during their last summer of innocence.
Director: Frank Perry
Tags: Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davison, Catherine Burns, Conrad Bain, Eileen Letchworth, Ernesto Gonzalez, Free movies 1969, Last Summer, Last Summer Online, Lou Gary, Peter Turgeon, Ralph Waite, Richard Thomas