Summer Night (1986) from Tuna

Summer Night, with Greek Profile, Almond Eyes and Scent of Basil (1986), or "Notte d'estate con profilo greco, occhi a mandorla e odore di basilico" is another Lina Wertmüller offering that covers pretty much the same philosophical and political ground as Swept Away (Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto). Lina Wertmüller seems to be expressing that both the rich and the poor are products of their society, both have strengths and weaknesses, and both could benefit from understanding the other. In doing so, she seems to make the poor man the more sympathetic character. Mariangela Melato reprises her Swept Away role as the rich, opinionated northern Italian industrialist. In this case, she has figured out how to make a fortune in ecology. Her opposite is a Sicilian gangster played by Michele Placido.

The plot device is an ironic twist on some actual criminal behavior of the time in Italy. Placido is an "old school" gangster who isn't interested in drugs, and leads a gang who kidnaps for ransom. Melato hires an ex CIA/FBI/Interpol agent (Roberto Herlitzka ), also a Sicilian, to kidnap Placido and hold him for ransom. As they keep him captive awaiting word from his gang, Herlitzka falls for Melato, but Melato in turn is sexually attracted to Placido. At first they keep Placido` in a dungeon, blindfolded and chained, and try to starve him into submission. When he fades physically, but remains as stubborn and confrontational as ever, she moves him to a lush solarium. It is then that he demands sexual gratification. After all, he gratifies all of his kidnap victims, and even state prisons have conjugal visits! Melato brings in two hookers, but joins them in bed with the still-blindfolded Placido, who must make a choice. He chooses Melato, and she is very glad he did. In contrast to an earlier sex scene with her refined boyfriend, she clearly enjoyed this encounter immensely. I will leave the rest of the story for you to discover.

Summer Night has some inherent structural problems:

First of all, with the villain chained most of the film, it's necessarily static, and the nudity doesn't start until the half-way point, making the first half a little dry.

Second, the plot line doesn't allow for any real role exchange, with Placido dominating throughout. He is adequate, but has nowhere near the intensity of Giancarlo Giannini in Swept Away.

Third, as in Swept Away, Melato's character is a motor-mouthed bitch, which is irritating. Herlitzka provides a little comic relief to mitigate that but, unfortunately, there is no conversion or character development for Melato this time as there was in Swept Away. She remains the motor-mouthed bitch the entire film.

Overall, this seemed very much like an attempt by Wertmüller to recapture the magic of Swept Away. Who can blame her? Watching the young gymnasts in the Olympics, I often have wondered what it is like to peak at 14 years of age, with the entire rest of your life being downhill from there. Having a huge success like Swept Away early in her career must have made it difficult for Wertmueller to compete with herself. Yet, Summer Night is not a bad film. There are many positives. The estate where this was filmed was beautiful, as were the Mediterranean beach scenes. The DVD transfer is first rate. More important, the plot did draw me in eventually, and I ended up enjoying it, so it is possible you will as well -  but if you are only going to see one of these two Wertmüller films,  go for Swept Away.



  • No features except the original trailer
  • The transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is first-rate



Even though Mariangela Melato was 12 years older in this film than in Swept Away, she didn't shy away from nudity. She revels breasts in two sex scenes and a swimming scene, and buns in one of the sex scenes and the swimming scene.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews on file

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-. It's not a masterpiece, but it's watchable - provided you have a tolerance for talky, politically-charged foreign films.

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