SUMMER STORM is Douglas Sirk’s 1944 filming of Chekhov’s ‘The Shooting Party.’ Why this literate, mature and well acted film isn’t better known is a mystery to me.
Set in Russia just before the revolution, it stars dark and lovely young Linda Darnell as a peasant beauty who’s quest for wealth and position leads to tragedy and death.
Linda Darnell has one of the best roles of her film career, and she’s never been better then she is here. She gives a sensual and sexy performance as the vain and greedy girl who plays several lovers against each other in order get all she can out of each of them. I think Linda Darnell’s beauty hardened rather early, and even by A LETTER TO THREE WIVES in 1949, she was already rather sharp and cold looking. But in 1944 and SUMMER STORM, she was still soft and lovely, and one of the most remarkably beautiful brunettes of the era.
George Sanders gives another fine performance, in a rather typical George Sanders part, as a snobbish, aristocratic judge who’s obsession with the girl ruins his career and his engagement to lovely Anna Lee. His loves scenes with Darnell are quite frank and passionate for their day, and both stars are excellent together.
And Edward Everette Horton gives what has to be one of the best performances of his career, in a role quite unlike his usual, as a spoiled, lecherous Russian count.