Monday, July 14, 2014

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Lush romantic drama about three young American women, working for the USDA in Rome, as they find love against the backdrop of Italy in all its splendor. Jean Peters, Dorothy McGuire and Maggie McNamara make a charming trio in the lead roles, and are ably supported by Rossano Brazzi, Clifton Webb, and Louis Jourdan as their respective love interests. Webb in particular is a delight to watch, with his understated comic playing and expert timing.

Director Jean Negulesco excelled at this kind of material, and made a number of similar "women's pictures" for 20th Century-Fox during this time. An expert craftsman, he had an invisible style that never calls attention to itself. Here, he deftly handles the screen space of the CinemaScope frame, bathing the film in atmosphere through the evocative use of its locations and vibrant Technicolor cinematography, and benefiting immensely from having the full resources of Fox at his disposal.

However, John Patrick's screenplay, adapted from John H. Secondari's novel, is a largely routine piece of work that contains all the requisite plot points, but fails to move beyond the conventions demanded by the genre. As a result, the characters and situations too often feel flat, and the melodramatic turns are easily anticipated, but it also manages to be surprisingly effective and genuinely moving at times, particularly in the subplot involving Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire. It's all charmingly predictable though, and succeeds at what it sets out to do.

1 comment:

Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

I love how great this film looks, but the plotlines are a chore.