Blu-ray Review – Spring Night, Summer Night

Flicker Alley and Nicolas Winding Refn have joined forces to bring the underseen gem, Spring Night, Summer Night, to glorious life on Blu-ray.

Directed by J.L. Anderson, Spring Night, Summer Night could be summed up in this way: If Cassavetes directed an existential cinema verite hillbilly melodrama written by VC Andrews, it’d look and sound just like this film.

If that seems insulting, it really isn’t meant to be. This film captures the hum-drum life of rural America in a way that few films have been able to capture. It is essentially about two half-siblings who begin an intense love affair. They’re both disillusioned about their lives, wandering aimlessly, not knowing whether to flee or to settle. Added to that, the stigma attached to their relationship weighs heavily upon them. Anderson’s camera follows them from one moment to the next, in the matter of fact fashion of Godard or Henry Jaglom – with many scenes carrying an improvisational tone. In its structure, it is completely unbound by the restraints of a traditional narrative, and in that way, it is refreshingly unpredictable

The performances from all of the non-professional actors are absolutely incredible – down to earth naturalism at its finest. There isn’t one false note among them. I was captivated throughout.

Originally booted from its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1967 – and recut for the grind house circuit – it can now be seen as it was meant to be seen, thanks to this meticulous 4K restoration. It is an awesome discovery. I cannot wait for it to find the audience that it deserves. It is a worthy addition to any collection, and gets my highest recommendation!

Special features include:

The Bluegrass Trilogy – Three early short films from director J.L. Anderson and Franklin Miller: Football As It Is Played Today (1961), How Swived (1962), and Cheers (1963).
In the Middle of the Nights: From Arthouse to Grindhouse and Back Again (2020) – Ross Lipman presents Spring Night Summer Night in contrast to the recut exploitation film, Miss Jessica Is Pregnant.
I’m Goin’ to Straitsville (2020) – Peter Conheim explores the locations of Spring Night Summer Night fifty years later.
16mm Behind-the-Scenes Footage (1967) – Rare and previously unseen material from the film’s production (featuring an optional commentary track by producer and co-writer Franklin Miller).
Spring Night Summer Night: 50 Years Later (2020) – Glenn Litton interviews cast and crew of Spring Night Summer Night, discussing the legacy of the film and the challenges it faced theatrically.
Cleveland Cinematheque Q&A (2016): Blu-ray only – A panel discussion with original cast and crew before its 2016 Cleveland, Ohio screening.
Slideshow Gallery – Images by photographer Jon Webb taken during production.
Collector’s Edition Souvenir Booklet – Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Ian Mantgani, Glenn Litton’s memories of director Joseph Anderson, Peter Conheim on the film’s restoration, a look at the career of distributor Joseph L Brenner, an overview of critical responses, and film credits.
Reversible Cover Art
Subtitles: English SDH

 

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