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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
May. 9, 2011 | 1:47 PM

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Egyptian to screen 1965’s “Summer Children” Tuesday; Vilmos Zsigmond in Person!

A stylistic hodge podge that plays like a combination of beach blanket comedies, French New Wave, and early Cassavetes, it’s safe to say that
Summer Children, made in 1965, was never going to win any Oscars.  The acting is clunky and stiff, the dialogue is laughable, and the film failed to launch the career of rock group The Deacons, who are given special billing in the credits.  But everyone has to start somewhere, and as one of the early works of future Oscar winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, Summer Children is an important piece of cinema history. 

Zsigmond, who shot the film in gorgeous black and white, spent the latter part of the 60’s doing journeyman work in low budget films like these, before achieving a breakthough in color with Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs Miller in 1971.  He would later go on to shoot Steven Spielberg’s debut,
The Sugarland Express, in 1974, and earned an Oscar for his work on Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.  Now over 80, Zsigmond continues to work, and remains one of the true legends in his field. In addition, the film was lit by the late Laszlo Kovacs, who would go on to shoot Easy Rider, and many other seminal American films of the 70’s.

With movies shot on film becoming an increasingly rare commodity, few are even attempting to replicate the kind of black and white mastery Zsigmond displays here.  Much of the film is shot at night, in and around Catatlina Island, and you could pause the film at will and have an image worth framing. With the original elements of the film about to be destroyed, the film was lovingly restored by Zsigmond and producer Jack Rubinette in 2008. The DVD features a commentary track from both men, in which both clearly have fond memories of the production.

Zsigmond will be on hand for a special screening of Summer Children at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Tuesday, May 10th, at 7:30.  He’ll be joined by the restoration producer Edie Rubinette-Petrachi and the film’s original producer Jack Rubinette. 


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