For 15-year-old Hermie (Gary Grimes) and his friends, life on a tranquil New England island is untouched by the harsh realities of the Second World War.
The only item on the agenda is girls – and in Hermie’s case, an “older woman” (She’s 22) whose soldier husband has been called away to fight.
Home-front life in the year after America entered the Second World War simply couldn’t have been this good – the sun shines too brightly, teenagers and adults alike are just too darn nice and Michel Legrand’s score is almost nauseatingly lush.
But there is something undeniably touching about 15-year-old Hermie’s relationship with war bride Dorothy (Jennifer O’Neill), which almost atones for the sniggering adolescent humour and the cosiness of the period detail.
One night Hermie visits Dorothy and finds her living room empty – but with a floor lamp burning, the phonograph still running at the end of a record, and on the coffee table a bottle of whisky and the inevitable telegram from the Secretary of the Army.
Dorothy appears in a doorway, embraces Hermie, dances with him for a while, and then soundlessly takes him to bed. The next morning she has left the island, and a narrator’s voice explains that he never saw or heard of her again.
Grimes reprised the role of Hermie (and his pals Oscy and Benje returned also) in a sequel, Class of ’44 (1973), but the film was less convincing.
Narrator, older Hermie