Written by / 6/02/2014 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

LEE PURCELL & TIM MATHESON IN ALMOST SUMMER

YEAR: 1978
The same year Tim Matheson helped lead the Delta Fraternity to victory in ANIMAL HOUSE, he co-starred in a much smaller and far more subtle, less historically significant and practically impossible to find comedy that also involved a food fight, although his character, high school quarterback Kevin Hawkins, is nowhere to be found when the munchies fly…

Lee Purcell in Almost Summer
Either is his on/off girlfriend Christine Alexander. Played by the lovely and talented Lee Purcell a year after the surf classic BIG WEDNESDAY, she desperately wants to become class president, a title pretty much in the bag: That is until political manipulator Bruno Kirby as Bobby DeVito, along with future WHITE SHADOW star Thomas Carter as sidekick Dean Hampton, discovers an underdog to possibly steal the election away from the energetic shoe-in, Christine, who's not only popular but can really deliver a heartfelt speech about obscurity and suicide...

Enter the film’s buried lead… As Darryl Fitzgerald, THE WANDERERS character-actor John Friedrich, usually cast as unstrung neurotic types, provides an everyman dark horse candidate that, like much of the cast herein, behaves more like college students than high schoolers... Although Didi Conn, the same year she played the endearing Frenchy in GREASE, fits the bubbly youthful aura to a tee. With her wide signature grin and an immense crush on the climbing Darryl, she’s the true diamond in the rough, perfectly acting her naïveté.

Tim & Lee
The breezy title, shown in neon licorice font during a frolicking beach party opening, makes ALMOST SUMMER seem like a free-for-all high school romp, when in actuality the plot is lean and contained, strictly adhering to the fairly serious election plotline.

Score: ***
And possibly caused by the fact many bootleg VHS-converted titles have been edited from their original source, the only real downside is that we never get to know the characters well enough before the ballots are counted... especially Friedman's Darryl: turning from unknown zero to popular politician, he should have been more fleshed-out for the transition to really matter... Also more interaction between John and polar opposite Lee Purcell, the two most interesting performers throughout, would have worked to energize the heated competition...

Instead, Purcell's sporadic spats with Tim Matheson are reminiscent of any high school melodrama, and her hinted-at romance with Bruno Kirby is as believable as Hilary Clinton hooking up with Karl Rove. Perhaps some party time groovin' to The Beach Boys would help alleviate the busy and stressful wheeling and dealing had on campus. Maybe the writers were making a grownup story within a youth oriented setting, on purpose, to show how politics can effect the youth culture, or something... But Either way, the talented actors and actresses make this SUMMER worth experiencing... at least once.
To the left... Byron Stewart and Thomas Carter  (Coolidge & Hayward) would later star in THE WHITE SHADOW
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