Summertime starred Katharine Hepburn. She played Jane, a middle-aged single lady from the United States. Shy and lonely, Jane decided to take a risk and vacation alone in Venice. She fell in love with Venice, as did I, when I saw this movie for the first time.
David Lean, the director of Summertime, seduces me each time with his slow panning of squares and canals, as well as lingering shots of statues and buildings. When I finally saw Venice in person, it was exactly as the director portrayed it. Sigh. I also like how Lean captured the nuances of rapture, seduction, love, fear, joy, and all the range of emotions of the main and minor characters.
What else do I like about Summertime? That Jane let herself go and fell in love with Renato, a local man, who is played by Rossano Brazzi. The scene in which Renato checked out Jane for the first time is so sexy. When I first saw the movie, as a teenager, I didn't get the attraction Jane (Hepburn's character) had for him. But as I grow older, each time I watch Summertime, Brazzi becomes even more handsome to my eyes.
Summertime is high on my list of romantic movies. Maybe in the top seven. My introduction to the movie was on a black-and-white TV. When I saw it many years later in color, it was just even more stunning.
For a synopsis of the play, check out this entry at Wikipedia.
The movie is based on the play The Time of the Cuckoo by Arthur Laurents. You can read the play at Google Books by clicking this link.
And, for your pleasure, here a clip (via YouTube) of that first meeting of Jane and Renato in the piazza de San Marcos.