In A Summer Place – Delmar Daves’ 1959 film version of Sloan Wilson’s potboiler of young and middle-aged love affairs, Richard Egan plays Ken Jorgenson, father of budding adolescent Molly (Sandra Dee), married to uptight Helen (Constance Ford). Helen has seen Molly kissing Johnny Hunter (Troy Donahue) and fears that this will lead to pregnancy or even dancing. She blames her husband’s Swedish blood, provoking him to deliver a stinging rebuke against her narrow-mindedness and prejudices.
A Summer Place (1959)
Screenplay by Delmer Daves, adapted from the novel by Sloan Wilson
male, American, aged in his 40s
Helen Jorgenson: [after she has seen Molly Jorgenson and Johnny Hunter kissing] Well, your daughter didn’t waste any time. She’s let that boy kiss and maul her (on) her very first night here.
Ken Jorgenson: Where were they?
Helen Jorgenson: Down below me, in the garden.
Ken Jorgenson: If they had anything to hide, you think they’d do it right under your window?
Helen Jorgenson: Are you defending her cheap behaviour?
Ken Jorgenson: Cheap? A girl kissing a boy in the moonlight? You know Molly’s as decent as this boy seems to be.
Helen Jorgenson: [raised voice] No decent girl lets a boy kiss and maul her the very first night they meet! I suppose it’s your Swedish blood in her. I’ve read about how the Swedes bathe together and… and have trial marriages and free love. I’ve read all about that. Anything goes.
Ken Jorgenson: So, now you hate the Swedes. How many outlets for your hate do you have, Helen? We haven’t been able to find a new house because of your multiplicity of them. We can’t buy near a school because you hate kids. They make noise. And there can’t be any Jews or Catholics on the block, either. And, oh, yes, it cant be anywhere near the Polish or Italian sections. And, of course, Negroes have to be avoided at all costs. Now, lets see: No Jews, no Catholics, no Italians, no Poles, no children. No Negroes. Do I have the list right, so far? And now, you’ve added Swedes. And, oh, yes, you wont use a Chinese laundry because you distrust Orientals. And you think the British are snobbish, the Russians fearful, the French immoral, the Germans brutal, and all Latin Americans lazy. What’s your plan? To cut humanity out? Are you anti-people and anti-life? Must you suffocate every natural instinct in our daughter, too? Must you label young love-making as cheap and wanton and indecent? Must you persist in making sex, itself, a filthy word?
Helen, without a word, leaves the room. Ken slams the door after her.