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December 16, 2008 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Roger Ebert called it "one of the finest, truest, most deeply felt movies in my experience". Rated X on initial release, it still has not appeared on DVD.

Based on a novel by Evan Hunter - author of The Blackboard Jungle and the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, though better known for his 87th Precinct police procedurals published under the name Ed McBain - Last Summer (1969) was directed by Frank Perry, fresh off an acclaimed adaptation of John Cheever's "The Swimmer".

It starred Richard Thomas, Bruce Davison, and Barbara Hershey - whom her future Hannah and Her Sisters director Woody Allen "fell in love with" after seeing her in this role. Feeling guilt over the death of a seagull during filming, she went by the name "Barbara Seagull" for several years. It also starred newcomer Catherine Burns - who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
posted by Joe Beese (66 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't wait to go home and download this. Thank you for the heads up!
posted by Bageena at 4:23 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this movie the basis for that Simpson's episode where the Simpson's go off to a cottage and everyone thinks Bart is a dork and everyone thinks Lisa is super cool and then Bart shows them her nerdy yearkbook book details and Lisa thinks they won't like her anymore but they still do. I need everything in my life to relate back to the Simpsons.
posted by chunking express at 4:40 PM on December 16, 2008 [9 favorites]


I remember seeing the latter half of this movie on TV one night. The most memorable scene involved Barbara Hershey pouring beer all over her bikini-clad boobs and Richard Thomas snatching the beer bottle back saying, "Hey! Don't waste it!"

I was half-asleep on the couch at the time, mind.
posted by illiad at 4:43 PM on December 16, 2008


I'm sort of skeeved by John Boy trying to get Barbara Hershey naked.
posted by birdherder at 4:45 PM on December 16, 2008


she went by the name "Barbara Seagull" for several years.

oh get a grip, hippy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:46 PM on December 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


Yeah, seagulls are one of the worst kind of animals that exist.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on December 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seagulls are the rats of the skies.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2008 [15 favorites]


I read a review of this years ago that mentioned the Seagull, and also mentioned she had changed her last name, and thought it was an odd coincidence. In the days before the Internet, there was so much information that was obscure or inaccessable to a film critic that they just had to guess about things.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:53 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


chunking express, Summer of 4 ft. 2 is a cobbling-together of things, with the title from Summer of '42. It sounds like a generic "teen-agers at the beach" movie, though this could have been a major reference point.

I just skimmed through the review with some basic level of intrigue at the X rating, and didn't see it. Wikipedia notes: Rated X when first released, Last Summer was given a rating of R after edits to the rape scene. The cut version is the one seen in the videotape release.

I was looking for photos of Catherine Burns, to see if I recognized her from her other appearances, and turned to google images, where I found a Catherine Burns who contributed to an electronic journal in Australia, and on the google preview, looks remarkably similar to the Catherine image from this movie.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:56 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


seagulls are one of the worst kind of animals that exist

I went on a first date with a lovely lady, to the beach. For some reason she had in her car a very fancy set of bocce balls that were to be a gift for her parents anniversary. She thought we could go ahead and play one game on the beach. I don't know what you call the silver target ball, but while we were playing a seagull swooped down, grabbed it, and flew off toward the sea.

In what I expected to be seen as the single most heroic act of my life, I threw a bocce ball and hit the seagull, which dropped the target ball just on the edge of the water. This girl was incensed at my cruelty, insisted on leaving, and wouldn't speak to me again.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:14 PM on December 16, 2008 [104 favorites]


Nice ABBA reference in the post title!
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:15 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


The lesser known story is that she had changed her name to Hershey after witnessing a chocolate bar melting on streets of West Hollywood.
posted by jeremias at 5:27 PM on December 16, 2008 [16 favorites]


StickyCarpet, did you go on to play for the Blue Jays?
posted by GuyZero at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This girl was incensed at my cruelty, insisted on leaving, and wouldn't speak to me again.

The shitty creature probably planned the whole thing. They should be wiped out!
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seagulls will poop on you. Right on your head!
posted by From Bklyn at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2008 [11 favorites]


Here I am, thinking I know a lot about movies, but not only have I not seen this movie, I've never even heard of it. Will check it out....somehow.
posted by zardoz at 5:31 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm still waiting for Frank Perry's DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE to appear on dvd...
posted by cinemafiend at 5:48 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was thinking, "Surely this is the most seagull hatred ever gathered in one place!" , but once again I've underestimated the internet.
posted by mannequito at 5:51 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. Catherine Burns is scary good in that. (Also, there's a seagull who lives within us all.)
posted by steef at 6:01 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


she went by the name "Barbara Seagull" for several years.

oh get a grip, hippy.

posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:46 PM on December 16 [+] [!]


Someone named is kuujjuarapik is making fun of the name Barbara Seagull? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

I wonder if the name change had anything to do with Jonathan Livingston Seagull which came out about the same time as the name change.
posted by euphorb at 6:03 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll add to the seagull hatred with two stories.

I first realized that seagulls are mean, nasty birds when I saw one snatch a whole hot dog from an old lady in an amusement park. The woman had the saddest look on her face as the seagull flew off with that hot dog.

I first realized that seagulls would happily feast on my flesh when I encountered a swarm of a couple hundred seagull going nuts over a whole ham someone had left on the beach. I have no idea how this ham came to be on the beach actually, but it was one of those large, spiral cut hams that you might cook at Christmas. This flock of seagulls were all over it, really just tearing into the thing. I ranks up there as one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. I just stood there and watch in amazement for a while until I noticed some of the seagulls staring at me, at which point I had to leave. I'm sure they were thinking "I bet he would be tasty, too."
posted by recursion at 6:04 PM on December 16, 2008 [17 favorites]


My name used to be Qvantamon Seagull, but I changed it to Qvantamon Hershey when I saw a Hershey bar that fell on the dirt and had to be tossed away.
posted by qvantamon at 6:07 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


And if swans are nature's porsche drivers, seagulls are nature's way to poop on porsche drivers.
posted by qvantamon at 6:10 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing this on t.v. when I was a kid, probably late seventies. It made me wish my parents would take vacations on Fire Island.
posted by Sailormom at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know what to make of this but I just have to yell... Roger Ebert wrote that review in 1969? Roger Ebert was writing for the Chicago Sun Times FORTY YEARS AGO?!

That's all. My mind is blown.
posted by rokusan at 6:15 PM on December 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not to redirect things away from seagulls, but . . .

I was of the perfect age to have The Waltons pilot (The Foundling) imprinted on my brain and watch the show until tv became irrelevant, easily replaced by excessive amounts of homework and precocious houseplaying with boyfriend.

Watching John-Boy act like such a normal teenager ("Are you really thinking about my top?" or whatever it is she says) is kind of disconcerting. I had realized he was an actual grownup, since I stopped watching tv and started going to his dad's (that would be Richard Thomas, Sr.) ballet school in NYC in the late seventies.

JohnBoy's litle sister Bronwyn was the star performer in their little troupe and how I wished I could dance as well as she could. Meantime big brother showed up every now and then and everyone went quiet. The male students seemed to find him particularly intriguing. So much talent wasted on acting and tv!

Sour grapes are readily available in dance studios.

But I digress. Looking at the young Barbara Hershey-Seagull(don't start that again!) I can see the transition to the young Diane Keaton. The seductive power of knowing disingenuousness should never be underestimated. And their smiles, and their bodies. Ah, men and their types!

I will wait for it to come from Criterion. If I remember. Thanks, Joe!
posted by emhutchinson at 6:32 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much of the movie exhibits the distractingly lackluster editing of the start of the youtube clip.
posted by exogenous at 6:53 PM on December 16, 2008


I wonder how much of the movie exhibits the distractingly lackluster editing of the start of the youtube clip.

That first clip wasn't one I would have personally selected had I the whole movie to choose from. But since it might have included the actual seagull that got killed, I chose it over this - which better conveys the movie's sexually-charged dread. Which builds to a memorably disturbing conclusion.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:01 PM on December 16, 2008


All you seagull-haters should check out The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. The evil kid in it likes to toss lit firecrackers to them, har har.

Ka-blooey!
posted by stinkycheese at 7:35 PM on December 16, 2008


High and Low was based on a McBain novel too.
posted by vronsky at 7:44 PM on December 16, 2008


Awesome to learn about this movie. Never heard of it before. So nice to have a good movie to look forward to watching.

ah, Richard Thomas, John Boy. I always loved him. Bruce Davison, wow, he's done a ton of stuff. Wonder what happened to Cathy Burns who played Rhoda? She was brilliant.

They were all so beautiful at that age, radiantly beautiful!

Funny, all you people who have spent your lives out of touch with nature, dissing seagulls. Like all living creatures, birds eat stuff. Seagulls are hard wired to dive bomb fish from the air, so they dive bomb hotdogs or meat left outside to rot or whatever. Gannets are incredible. Other birds dive bomb too, eagles, hawks, crows. Seagulls are quite beautiful. Here's a bluebird divebombing a hawk.

In 1969 Donovan's music was popular, his FairyTale album came out in the USA and there was a very likable, wonderfully hippy, anti-war song of his about seagulls, Ballad of a Crystal Man. I think it's charming that Barbara Hershey cared enough about any animal to want to honor it by changing her name.

Thanks for the post Joe Beese.
posted by nickyskye at 8:08 PM on December 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


Downloading right now. Woohoo.
posted by Manhasset at 8:09 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like seagulls. They have always amused me, the way they think they're all that.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:10 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Funny, all you people who have spent your lives out of touch with nature, dissing seagulls.

Being detached from nature might contribute to seagull-hating, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who's worked on a fishing vessel who likes them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:15 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just want to state that I am not a seagull. Thank you.

Bur I do remember Barbara Hershey's name change ...
posted by Seabird at 8:30 PM on December 16, 2008


Downloading right now. Woohoo.

What is there to download other than the few YouTube clips?
posted by nickyskye at 8:39 PM on December 16, 2008


Bur I do remember Barbara Hershey's name change ...
posted by Seabird at 9:30 PM on December 16


Eponysterical
posted by Joe Beese at 8:46 PM on December 16, 2008


What with Barbara Hershey's father being Jewish and her mother being an Arkansas-born Presbyterian of Irish descent, the whole Seagull thing makes perfect sense.
posted by lukemeister at 8:58 PM on December 16, 2008


What is there to download other than the few YouTube clips?

The movie. Torrenting.
posted by Manhasset at 9:04 PM on December 16, 2008


The movie. Torrenting.

Can't find the link. Please will somebody post the link?
posted by nickyskye at 9:09 PM on December 16, 2008


nicky,

I think googling " 'Last Summer' 'Barbara Hershey' torrent" will find it. However, I don't know which torrent sites are the best. I'm sure Metafilter members are standing by waiting to help!
posted by lukemeister at 9:18 PM on December 16, 2008


"But then this seagull came, and it was this is this, and that is that, and ..."
posted by bwg at 9:36 PM on December 16, 2008


Damnit, now I want to see what was in the original cut that made them rate it X. Shouldn't have told me that.
posted by tehloki at 9:55 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Torrenting does not exist.
posted by localhuman at 10:17 PM on December 16, 2008


I downloaded a seagull! Argh! Fucksticks!
posted by Artw at 10:23 PM on December 16, 2008 [9 favorites]


Bruce Davison, wow, he's done a ton of stuff.

Including, I see, The Waltons.
posted by stargell at 10:31 PM on December 16, 2008


This post inspired an AskMe question FWIW - what films of note have yet to be come out on DVD?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:32 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


thanksjoe,
I saw this as a pre-teen on weekend tv (imagine that?!) in soCal about 25 years ago. I remember a few scenes very well and never knew the title.
posted by lsd4all at 12:02 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


My ex-wife used to verbally berate me for my fond memories of slaughtering seagulls from my time in San Diego, despite my regaling her with stories of stolen food, poop on bare skin and in hair, and general psychotic nastiness.

Then, during a trip back to San Diego (specifically Julian) to visit family, we headed down to Sea World. My ex-wife was really looking forward to it, as this trip had been the first time she had even seen the ocean, much less come in physical contact with it. When it came time to feed the dolphins (a strictly scheduled event), we bought two trays of fish. As she approaches the tank, fish in hand and big smile on her face, a gull dive bombs her, steals an entire tray of fish and almost becomes entangled in her hair.

As she looked at me, face aghast, I smiled back and said "See? Told you."
posted by Samizdata at 12:09 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


I remember reading this book as a teenager and simultaneously loving it and being freaked out by it. I vaguely remember the movie, but remember the book much better. There was also another book featuring this trio in which they behaved even more heinously. That one was called "Come Winter", and I loved that too. What I found so mesmerizing about all this at the age of fourteen, I now have no idea.
posted by OolooKitty at 12:51 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


As she looked at me, face aghast, I smiled back and said "See? Told you."

Yeah, exes really do suck.
posted by item at 1:24 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Several films later, in tribute, the seagulls named her "the wind beneath my wings"
posted by hal9k at 3:01 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think googling " 'Last Summer' 'Barbara Hershey' torrent" will find it. However, I don't know which torrent sites are the best.

Every site I checked for this film is showing no more than two or three seeds at most. Should take about as long to download as it would to arrive by regular mail.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 AM on December 17, 2008


This seagull talk reminds me of one of those rare times, years and years ago, when I had a girlfriend.

We were huddled up together on one of the platforms at Flinders Street Station on a miserably chilly, miserably drizzly Melbourne afternoon. Waiting for the train to arrive there was nothing to do but watch the assorted pigeons and seagulls trot about people's feet on the lookout for a dropped chip.

"I like seagulls" I said, for no real reason other than to break the silence.

"So do I" she answered.

"I like the ones with no neck" I said, pointing out a big gray fellow perched on the edge of the platform, sullenly hunkered down into his damp feathers.

"I like the ones with a gimp leg" she said, pointing out another gull hopping unsteadily past.

There was nothing to say after that. She broke up with me a few weeks later. I heard she married a web developer, and has a couple of kids now.
posted by Ritchie at 5:16 AM on December 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


My seagull memory would have to be the time when I was walking to the mall and in a side lot someone had threw away a dirty diaper. I think the seagull was trying to eat it. A couple more came by and they started fighting over it. Then out of no where a hawk of some kind swoops down and in one of the bloodiest, feather filled, 2 seconds of my life the poor seagull was reduced to nothing more than a mess of inside-out bird goo. I thought damn hawks must not like them either. I then went to the mall and got a smoothie.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:01 AM on December 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


she went by the name "Barbara Seagull" for several years.

Considering this was the time period that she lived with David Carradine (while he was doing the Kung Fu TV show), I suspect this name change was chemically induced.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:25 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I seagull pooped on my shirt in Atlantic City. I went on to win $60 at roulette. Take that, seagull!
posted by inigo2 at 6:29 AM on December 17, 2008


I'm picturing David Carradine kung-fu fighting a flock of seagulls. If he took them out, Barbara Hershey would have to change her name to Barbara Hershey Seagull Seagull Seagull [repeat as needed].
posted by lukemeister at 7:15 AM on December 17, 2008


I like seagulls. I remember when I was a boy, taking the ferry across the big lake to get to Mackinac Island. The seagulls would fly alongside at the same speed as the boat. You could lift up a cracker in your tiny hand and the seagull would seemingly levitate down and carefully remove it before banking off in a wide arc.

Also, Kehaar.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Absolutely true story about seagulls: when I was a child, I could communicate with them. I could do an absolutely perfect seagull impression (involving a sort of choked squeal in the back of my throat), and when I did it at the beach, they would all swoop down and gather around me like an unholy army. My parents fucking HATED it, 'cause, you know, those birds are mean-spirited, thieving, and loud. I loved my horrible avian brethren, though. Eventually, I hit puberty, and my voice lowered, and I found that I could no longer make the screeching seagull noise.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that SEAGULLS ARE AWESOME, FUCK YOU HUMANS.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:51 AM on December 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm picturing David Carradine kung-fu fighting a flock of seagulls.

I'm picturing David Carradine driving a Ferarri in LA wearing a suit jacket but no shirt. Like the time I saw him doing exactly that.
posted by inigo2 at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny, all you people who have spent your lives out of touch with nature, dissing seagulls.

those of us in touch with nature find turkey vultures to be much more interesting
posted by pyramid termite at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2008


Also, Kehaar.

OK, the one good seagull.

As opposed to Jonathan Livingston blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAHSHUT UP ALREADY!
posted by GuyZero at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2008


“Seagulls are the rats of the skies.”

I actually used to like seagulls. I don’t mind the poop and I liked sleeping in the surf listening to them call.

Strange, massed up at the end of a runway on a base I was on one week and they asked some of us to shoot them because they wouldn’t go away otherwise. Well, I liked gulls, but I did have some friends who were pilots.

Well, this took a bit and Greenpeace showed up. Or people who wore things that said they were from Greenpeace, and started protesting us from outside the perimeter fence. Some of them threw rocks (way too far off). And I’m thinking “Why do I give these jerks money?” (cos I’m pro-environment, but I don’t like getting rocks thrown at me).

So we started waiting until the gulls were right over the group before we shot them. Blam! And a big mass of bloody feathers and bird guts would shower down on them. Made it fun, because shooting gulls is otherwise pretty easy (if they don’t spot you).
Well this went on for hours.
So we came back the next day, and did it again.
And they were doggedly determined not to give up. So the local cops arrived (this was not in the U.S.) and a whole lot of pointing went on. Pointing at us, at the gulls, at each other. We held off on blasting the gulls for a bit. And eventually everyone left and we finished.

We come back and apparently people thought we were killing some rare birds (who, as it turned out, were nesting very close to where it would have been impossible to have any human accessibility at all much less an airfield and this had been worked out many years before, by treaty, in fact. But the facts didn’t enter into it. We had killed rare birds from double handfuls of miles away (pretty good shots I guess))
And there were reports we were shooting at the local folks and protestors (they were covered in blood - albiet gull blood). And that the police, valiantly, had chased us off.
So I went to see the C.O. and asked him if there was a problem, if it was a p.r. thing, if we had to do anything to remedy the situation, because I didn’t want folks thinking we were harming anyone, etc.

He said “No. Happens every year.”

Fucking seagulls.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


"Fly Lesbian Seagull..."

I miss Beavis and Butthead. Sigh
posted by pearlybob at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2008


Huh, this is the third time this week that I've come across a movie on MeFi that looks really good, only to have Netflix and Amazon fail me completely. Where do people find these sorts of movies if not online? I can't imagine B&M stores actually having them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:43 AM on December 18, 2008


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