Spring Night, Summer Night by J. L. Anderson (1967, 82 min., 35mm). Director J. L. Anderson’s remarkable first—and only—feature, Spring Night, Summer Night has been claiming the attentions of a growing number of critics. This stunning new restoration promises to bring the film an even wider audience and will no doubt be seen as one of the great re-discoveries of this year’s UCLA Festival of Preservation.Shot on location in rural southeastern Ohio, its rolling hills shimmering in eddies of black-and-white grain, accentuated by the film’s low-key lighting, the film brings an earthy poetry to its death-trap portrait of small-town America. In the clamor at the family dinner table, Carl and Jessie, the eldest children in an extended brood, see the grinding trajectory of their lives laid out: from carefree youth to embittered adulthood to forgotten old age. Hungering for escape, they rebel against the ties that bind them through an illicit act of love that brings both tender and traumatic consequences. Through these young ill-fated lovers and the hardscrabble world around them, Anderson captures in almost ethnographic detail the postwar bust of the Appalachians where regrets and recriminations are soaked in Blatz and fuel a pernicious rumor mill. This last—seemingly the town’s last booming industry—ironically offers Carl and Jessie a glimmer of hope in their impossible situation (they may not actually be related). Description written by Paul Malcolm, UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Preservation funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute.