Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Overlooked Movies -- Three Coins in the Fountain

Back in 1954 this movie taught me that all women want husbands, preferably hot Italian husbands, but a snooty old American will do if you're a desperate 35-year-old who's practically an old maid already.  The woman who toss coins in the Trevi fountain are Jean Peters, Maggie MacNamara, and Dorothy McGuire.  The men they're after are Rossano Brazzi, Louis Jourdan, and Clifton Webb.  

There are many plot complications, but don't worry.  All's well that ends well, and who cares about the plot?  What really matters here is that the movie was filmed in Rome and Venice in full color and in CinemaScope.  I hope you took a look at the trailer, since it pretty much makes that point.  Back in 1954, for a kid sitting in a theater in a small East Texas town, color and CinemaScope seemed about as close as he'd ever come to seeing the Grand Canal and St. Mark's Square.  It was that way for a lot of people in those days, and this movie gave me (and them) a great travelogue wrapped up in three nice stories.

Is the stories believable?  Not for a minute, what what does that matter to an impressionable kid?  Or to an adult who can remember that kid?  It's a product of its time, for sure, so view it as a charming historical artifact.

The title song was sung over the opening credits by Frank Sinatra, as you know if you watched the trailer, but the massive radio hit was the recording by the Four Aces, which will appear later as the Song of the Day.

13 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'm with you. As a kid I LOVED this movie, watched it a lot. We watched it a few years ago and I still enjoyed it. It definitely was one of the main factors in my wanting to go to Italy.

When we went to Rome for the first time in 1974 one of the first places we went was the Trevi Fountain and man, was that a disappointment! Not that there was anything wrong with it, because there isn't of course. But I must have mixed it up with something like the huge Piazza Navona, because rather than being on it's own in a huge open place as I'd remembered, the Trevi is surrounded closely by other buildings. We did eat at a good, cheap restaurant right across from it and yes, we threw coins in the fountain.

I miss the old days.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Piazza Navona.

Trevi Fountain. You can get an idea of how cramped the area is.

Don't get me wrong, it isn't the movie but the way I'd remembered it.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Clifton Webb was 64 when he made the movie. What 35 year old woman wouldn't want a stuffy old man like that? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bill Crider said...

The movies have always been better than real life.

And I agree about Clifton Webb. I'm surprised that all three of them didn't fall for him.

Deb said...

Clifton Webb had the most inexplicable career as a romantic lead (cf., LAURA). Perhaps because of the Production Code, it was helpful to present a romance involving a man who exhibited not a shred of passion or warmth or spontaneous desire toward the opposite sex.

Deb said...

And let's not forget the remake of this movie, THE PLEASURE SEEKERS, with Ann-Margaret!

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Webb never married and had no children. He lived with his mother until her death at age 91 in 1960, leading Noël Coward to remark, apropos Webb's grieving, "It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71."

Actor Robert Wagner, who co-starred with Webb in the films Stars and Stripes Forever and Titanic and considered the actor one of his mentors, stated in his memoirs, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, that "Clifton Webb was gay, of course, but he never made a pass at me, not that he would have."


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We did go to Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli (which you can see in the trailer, with all the fountains) after reading Eleanor Clark's ROME AND A VILLA before we went. (Clark was married to Robert Penn Warren, by the way.)

Bill Crider said...

No one can forget Ann-Margret, Deb.

Jeff, I knew Webb was gay. He was one of my movie heroes in the old days. I saw Stars and Stripes forever two or three times.

Seepy Benton said...

Clifton Webb made only a handful of movies, many of them wonderful classics.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Wagner looked like a baby in Stars and Stripes Forever.

One more thing: I hated what passed for fashion in the 1950's, as exemplified by the hideous thing Maggie McNamara had on her head in the trailer.

Cap'n Bob said...

My mother ate up syrupy romantic movies like this so I got dragged to it at an early age. I have almost no memory of it but the song was pretty good.

Dan said...

Apparently Webb was inordinately broken up about his mother's death.... to the point where he cried at parties & called his friends drunk in the middle of the night, leading Coward to call him "the world's oldest living orphan."