So, my stack of Netflix and Classic Flicks began to weigh so heavily on my television last night that I figured it was finally time to get through them. Why pay $40 a month for subscription services unless I actually start watching DVDs?
I started with Three Coins in the Fountain(1954), part of my ongoing project to give out retrospective awards. You may be like "what project?" but that's because so far it's unposted and private. I started with 1954 on a whim and have seen a lot of interesting time-capsule appropriate stuff. Sometimes these days I'll wake up and feel like Dwight D Eisenhower is still president, McCarthyism is in full swing, Our Miss Brooks is on television, and shoulderpads with fullskirts are appropriate daywear for the office.
Three Coins is one of those 50s comedies about husband hunting. You know the type: Think How to Marry a Millionaire which had the same director, Jean Negulesco. Unfortunately for this travelogue-style picture (top tourist attractions in Rome and Venice are pimped throughout) the starpower here is much dimmer than in that earlier picture, making Fountain more of a curiousity than a must-see.
Beyond the hokey but hugely popular theme song, and it's popularity-pushed Best Picture nomination, there are things to recommend the picture. Dorothy McGuire and Clifton Webb as the oldest of the lovebird couples make the most of their screentime even though their story doesn't kick in until 1/2 way through the picture. There's eye-candy galore in the pretty vistas and as was and still is their habit the Academy went for the lush landscapes to the tune of a cinematography Oscar. The dresses (costume design by Dorothy Jeakins) are also beautiful.
Finally, there's surprisingly hot (hey, for 54 it's steamy) mashing between Jean Peters and Rossano Brazzi as initially unfortunate office lovers. Jean Peters would later marry the infamous Howard Hughes (about 10 years after the events told in last year's The Aviator). Rossano Brazzi is even prettier. In 1954 he also played Ava Gardner's true love match in The Barefoot Contessa and a few years later he played his most memorable role, the lead in South Pacific.
I always find it fascinating to note which pictures struck the public's fancy in which era and if this romantic comedy is any indication, 1950s audience dug corny theme songs, considered European travel glamorous, were hypocritical about sex, and loved the idea of rich and successful men saving working women.