ABC Movie of the Week/That Certain Summer

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That Certain Summer
Airdate November 1, 1972
Writer(s) Richard Levinson &
William Link
Director Lamont Johnson
Network ABC
Style 90-minute drama
Company Universal TV
Origin USA

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That Certain Summer (1972) is a TV movie about a teenager who learns his father is gay. It aired as part of the ABC Movie of the Week, and along with Duel and Brian's Song, it is considered one of the highlights of the series. In addition, with its sensitive, realistic, forthright portrayal of homosexuals (as portrayed by Hal Holbrook and a young Martin Sheen) and lack of easy answers and simplistic resolutions, it is a landmark in the portrayal of GLB themes in American film. Prior to That Certain Summer, homosexuality was either not portrayed at all or merely hinted at (usually as a means of suggesting a character's moral weakness or depravity). A year after That Certain Summer aired, homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, which would further open the door for gay themes and discussions in American pop culture. That Certain Summer is thus a progenitor of everything from Will & Grace to the LoGo network, and an important historical turning point in American film and television. Aside from its theme, it would have one more lasting impact—Sheen's complex, subtle performance would be one of the key stepping stones in his path to becoming a major star.

Cast: Hal Holbrook (Doug Salter), Martin Sheen (Gary McClain), Joe Don Baker (Phil Bonner), Marlyn Mason (Laureen Hyatt), Scott Jacoby (Nick Salter), Hope Lange (Janet Salter), James McEachin (Mr. Early), Clarke Gordon (Artist), Jan Shepard (Jody Bonner), Carolyn Bueno (Mrs. Michele), Myron Natwick (Man at Party) Patti Steele (Woman)


Plot Overview


Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References


DVD Release

Awards and Accolades


(7 Nominations/1 Win)

  • Nominated: Outstanding Single Program - Drama or Comedy
Richard Levinson & William Link
  • Nominated: Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Hal Holbrook
  • Nominated: Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Hope Lange
  • Won: Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Drama
Scott Jacoby
  • Nominated: Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama - Original Teleplay
Richard Levinson & William Link
  • Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama - A Single Program
Lamont Johnson
  • Nominated: Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Mixing
Melvin M. Metcalfe Sr. & Thom Piper

Golden Globes

(1 Nomination/1 Win)

  • Won: Best Movie Made for TV

DGA Awards

(1 Nomination/1 Win)

  • Won: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Specials
Lamont Johnson, Jack Terry, G. Warren Smith & Harvey S. Laidman

PGA Golden Laurel Awards

(1 Win)

  • Won: PGA Hall of Fame - Television Programs (1999)
Richard Levinson & William Link

Other Awards

American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards, USA

  • Nominated: Best Edited Television Special - Edward M. Abroms