Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Mamma mia, Three Coins In the Fountain is a great looking movie with a shabby story.

Three American women work in Rome. They live in a palatial apartment, complete with maid and expansive balcony overlooking the city. Who knew working in an American government office as a secretary paid so well? Maybe the currency exchange rate was really favorable 60 years ago.

Maria Williams (Maggie McNamara) is the new kid in town. She's looking for romance. Maria's cupid radar is so finely tuned that she realizes within moments that co-worker Giorgio Bianchi (Rossano Brazzi) is in love with fellow secretary, and roommate, Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters). The boss, Mr. Burgoyne (Howard St. John) frowns on the local workers mingling with the American talent.

Miss Francis (Dorothy McGuire) has resigned herself to spending the rest of her days in Rome as an old maid. She's a secretary to expat American writer John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb). He appreciates her worth as his assistant, but not as a romantic partner.

Despite warnings, Maria sets her sights on local playboy Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jordan). Maria warns her of his string of romantic quests. The prince suggests he wants love, but is sought out by women who want the money and prestige that comes with his title. Maria doesn't do much to set herself apart from the pack. She schemes to win his heart by finding out all he likes and dislikes. But, hey, she really does love him at the same time.

Three Coins In the Fountain, shot in CinemaScope, looks absolutely fantastic. The fashions are beautiful. The settings are impressive.

But boy, it's hard to get excited about any of these romances. Francis and Anita, for the professional women they are, sure cry a lot. I wonder what their contemporaries in 2014 would make of that behaviour. There's zero romantic chemistry between Webb and McGuire. If Francis wanted love that badly, why did she keep waiting for Shadwell to smarten up?

Frank Sinatra croons the theme song. The film opens with several minutes of stunning scenes from around Rome. Maybe this movie is best watched with the volume down - after Old Blue Eyes is done singing.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Yikes. Three Coins in the Fountain was nominated for best picture, but lost to On the Waterfront. The film did win, deservedly, for best cinematography and song.

Louis Jordan, still alive at this writing, was Dr. Arcane in Swamp Thing and Return of the Swamp Thing based on a DC comic book.

Jean Negulesco, director of Three Coins In the Fountain, was also at the helm of How to Marry a Millionaire and Titanic (1953).

1 comment:

Yvette said...

I really do like this movie even if the story is a little anemic. My favorite of the three couples is Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire. So sweet. I don't know why they had to make him have that serious illness.

But well, I did also like Louis Jourdan - very swoony.

ON THE WATERFRONT and THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN seem like such opposites in film-making and yet they were both nominated in the same year. Something I didn't know.