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Roman spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) (import)

Coral Browne , Vivien Leigh , Josť Quintero    DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £12.98 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Coral Browne, Vivien Leigh, Jeremy Spenser, Jill St. John, Warren Beatty
  • Directors: Josť Quintero
  • Format: Import, Dolby, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Italian, French, English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0052L8LIU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,027 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Import from The Netherlands with English soundtrack
Widow Karen Stone is rich and beautiful. Her success as an actress are only a memory. She lives alone in a luxury apartment overlooking the steps of Rome where romances happen. And she waits. Oscar winners Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty are the lady and the lover in this tender adaptation of a short story by Tennessee Williams, directed by Broadway veteran Jose Quintero. Leigh won her second Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, also from Williams. Their renewed cooperation creates a similar spell - romantic, sinister, and almost explosive. Two characters throwing oil on the fire by the main players. Lotte Lenya, nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress as the countess who romances "arranger" in which she has a financial interest and Carol Brown and Karen scheming best friend. Picture: 16:9 Sound: Mono 1.0 Language: English, French, Italian Subtitles: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Romanian

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars traqi-comic cougars 15 Jun 2009
Beautifully shot and subtly acted. Manages to be simultaneously funny, sad and disturbing -- a rare feat. Vivien Leigh's Karen Stone and Lotte Lenya's 'Contessa' are mesmerising, but even the minor characters are finely nuanced and memorable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEGRONI'S ANYONE? 22 Feb 2014
i love this film the so so handsome warren beatty.miss lee is spot on as mrs stone.however there is the sensational lotte lenya giving a splendid performance.cleo laine singing in a nightclub and a young jean marsh in a non speaking but noticable role.highly recommended.the tennesee williams novela also ex try to get the hardback with cecil beaton design on dustjacket
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sins of the Flesh rule! 20 Oct 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Yeah! They don't make them like this anymore! Vivien Leigh was always a deliciously sexy lady,sort of an arrogant piece of thinking mans crumpet,and in this story she positively reeks with lust as she 's drawn to realise that,alone in the world, her golden days are over!
In real life Ms Leigh sadly developed significant psychological difficulties,became a manic depressive,and we are told,even developed tendencies to nymphomania,all of which caused severe problems for her in her relationships,and particularly in her great marriage to Sir Lawrence Olivier.. Against the background of these tragic circumstances,which contributed to her untimely death from tuberculosis,I've always wondered how much these events provided the generally "dark"aspect she brought to her later roles, in this film and also her final movie, "Ship of Fools",with Lee Marvin. A thought to conjure with.
Apart from Ms Leigh's towering performance here,a young Warren Beatty is a perfect match for her,and amply demonstrates exactly why he is such a name to be reckoned with,even to this day.
A highly recommended,classic movie,go for it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Golden Oldie. 23 Sep 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I liked it for the fact that Vivien Leigh was in it, but it is not one of her best ones.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "But we are all drifting Mrs. Stone" 5 May 2006
By A Customer - Published on
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a film about need and seduction and the fear of being all-alone in the world. Legendary New York stage actress Karen Stone (the legendary Vivian Leigh) is unhappy with her latest performance, and is even more distraught when the play turns out to be a flop. She decides to retire from acting, telling everyone she needs a holiday to take care of her ailing husband.

However, when he dies on board a jetliner on the way to Rome, she decides to stay in the City and book herself into a lavish rooftop apartment. She wonders the streets, drifting in a haze of expensive loneliness, wondering what to do with her life now that acting is over for her. She soon falls in with the Contessa (Lotte Lenya), a female pimp, and a sharp procuress of handsome young men for forlorn wealthy old widows.

The Contessa hooks her up with the young Paolo di Leo (Warren Beatty). The sexy Paolo thinks nothing of acquiring money out of rich, older women, and with the Contessa's encouragement, he wines and dines Karen. Karen, however, isn't your typical widow. At around fifty, she's is still very beautiful, although she worries about getting older, she's obviously enamored of Paolo and she's desperate for affection, but she's determined that Paolo's need for money will not triumph her need for love.

They eventually become lovers. Karen showers gifts upon Paolo and they take a trip to Tangier. The Contessa becomes furious that Paolo isn't "cutting her fifty-fifty on the deal." Karen also doesn't heed the warnings of her friend, journalist Meg (Coral Browne) that she has "a disease" that can't be fulfilled. When Paolo begins to make the movies on younger starlet Barbara Bingham (Jill St. John), Karen begins to see Paolo for what he really is.

Based in Tennessee Williams novella, Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is full of his trademark themes of desperation and isolation of fearful people aching to connect. There's no doubt that Paolo is an attractive man, but he's also selfish, spoilt and petulant and he thinks nothing of two-timing Karen. Karen is an intelligent and intuitive woman, and she's well aware of Paolo's agenda, but it's as though she's observing life through a looking glass, and is ultimately seduced by the gigolo lifestyle.

Director Jos? Quintero bathes the movie soft hews of gold and orange and he makes the most of Rome's stunning surrounds. Vivien Leigh remains a rather downcast presence - she's plays Karen with a fascinating mixture of neurosis and foreboding, she knows the relationship with Paolo will probably lead nowhere but she just can't help herself.

When their romance starts to sour, she and her young and deceitful companion trade sharp words but there no extravagant theatrical exchanges. Likewise Beatty plays down the truculent Paolo - much has been made of his Italian accent, but I found it perfectly suitable, and he's totally convincing as a manipulative pretty-boy Italian gigolo.

The Romance of Mrs. Stone was probably pretty sensational when it was released in 1961; and it's moral ambiguities - paying for sex and high-class prostitution, quite shocking to some. The film as aged well, although it dances around the more intimate aspects of the relationship - there's only one short love scene, which fades to black - the film certainly does a good job of highlighting the trials and tribulations of poor lonely women with bags of money who find themselves at a loss, living in exotic places and desiring to connect with someone. Mike Leonard May 06.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect, yet deeply poignant 4 Dec 2006
By profile - Published on
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a magnificent failure of a film: it addresses the themes of fear, self-loathing and the decay of age more sensitively than any other Hollywood film which springs to mind, but ultimately feels a bit cramped and over-done at times. Based on a Tennesee Williams novel, it tells the story of Karen Stone, an aging actress known for her light, comedic performances, who, after a failed turn in Shakespeare's As You Like It begins to fret that her career is over. She makes the decision to set off for Rome with her husband, who dies on the plane taking them there. She meets up with a handsome young money-hungry gigolo, played by an out-of-his-league Warren Beattie, whose terrible faux-Italian accent threatens to turn this film into camp. It contains one of Vivien Leigh's darkest and most autobiographical turns as the miserable Mrs. Stone, who shacks up with Beattie to try to bring some meaning to her life. She is as beautiful and sensitive here as she ever was. Two excellent performances by Lotte Lenya and Coral Browne help to bolster the film's quality. Lotte Lenya's lends a superb performance as the witch-like Contessa whose stable of handsome boys entertain the bored, wealthy American expatriates, both male and female. The always-engaging Coral Browne is brilliant as Karen's close friend, Meg, who attempts to help her and pull her out of the downward spiral of decay in which she is so clearly headed. A bonus featurette on the DVD discusses the troubled making of the film, it is particularly poignant in its discussions of the insecurities that Williams, Leigh and Beattie faced at the time of the film's creation.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "When the time comes when nobody desires me for myself, I'd rather not be desired at all." 13 Aug 2010
By Classic film buff - Published on
Taking on the role of Karen Stone was an act of considerable courage by Vivien Leigh; there were too many unfortunate parallels where life imitated art. Mrs. Stone loses her husband of twenty years to a fatal heart attack, Ms. Leigh was divorced from her husband of twenty years Sir Laurence Olivier shortly before she began filming, which was his choice not hers. Both were starting new lives alone, were approximately the same age in the late forties, and were worried about aging and losing their beauty, and as both were actresses, the scarcity of roles that were age appropriate. That is where the resemblance ends however; Mrs. Stone inevitably gives in to despair, but not so Vivien Leigh who would gallantly challenge and valiantly fight the cruel fates of manic depression, aging and tuberculosis that would ultimately cause her untimely death at age fifty-three.

Based on a Tennessee Williams novella, "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" is the story of a renowned middle-aged American actress Karen Stone (Leigh), who flees to Rome with her wealthy invalid husband (John Phillips) after a disastrous try as Shakespeare's young heroine Rosalind in "As You Like It". En route, Mr. Stone succumbs to heart failure. Bereft of both her husband and her career, Mrs. Stone decides to take an apartment and remain in Rome indefinitely. At loose ends, she is increasingly aware she's beginning to "drift" without any direction, which alarms her. This plus her status as a vulnerable rich widow, makes her prey for an unsavory Contessa (Lotte Lenya) who is nothing more than a female pimp that dangles vain pretty boy Paulo DiLeo (Warren Beatty) in Mrs. Stone's path. At first resistant, Mrs. Stone's loneliness and susceptibility lead her to be drawn into their web, despite warnings from her astute, caring best friend Meg Bishop (Coral Browne).

The biggest flaw in this movie is the casting of Vivien Leigh. Aged forty-seven when filming, Ms. Leigh is still so breathtaking beautiful and magnetic that there is no way she would ever need the services of a gigolo. Except for Audrey Hepburn no actress moved with such poise and grace in every movement, she is the embodiment of Lord Bryon's poem "She Walks in Beauty Like the Night." Exquisitely gowned by her favorite Parisian courtier, the celebrated Pierre Balmain, immaculately coifed and made up, impeccably well bred and intelligent, she is any man's dream mature woman, you'd never do better! With the added inducements of wealth and celebrity, men of all ages would be beating a path to her door!

Now, just to contradict myself, the film's biggest asset is Vivien Leigh! She is such a consummate actress that she makes you believe that despite all the above advantages, Mrs. Stone is possessed by the twin demons of loneliness and insecurity. These linked to the double shock of losing both her husband and career almost simultaneously cause her to act irrationally and recklessly. In repose her face is eloquent in expressing emotion, the eyes haunted with a private grief. She makes the viewer empathize and care for her, and this is what makes the film ultimately succeed.

This was Warren Beatty's second film and not much of a stretch for him playing a spoiled, petulant, indolent young man who will always love his own reflection in the mirror more than any woman. However, as written Paulo has about the depth of a birdbath, so there's not much he can do with the role. With her wide jack o' lantern grin, and flaming hennaed hair, Lotte Lenya is chillingly corrupt and decadent as the barracuda of a Contessa who makes her living off a stable of young boys parceled out to a moneyed clientele of both sexes. She deservedly received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Coral Browne as Meg Bishop, Karen's true best friend is wonderful, cultivated, elegant and statuesque, full of forthright common sense trying to save Karen from her darker instincts. Another parallel, Ms. Leigh and Ms. Browne were very close friends in real life, Ms. Browne allegedly one of the friends that visited Ms. Leigh the day she died. The cast is rounded out by two smaller but key roles, Jill St. John as the bubble headed, nubile American starlet Barbara Bingham and Jeremy Spenser as a dark, sinister homeless young man who is stalking the hapless Mrs. Stone. Also look for in cameos both quite young, Cleo Laine as a singer in a nightclub, and Jean Marsh of "Upstairs, Downstairs" fame as one of Paolo's conquests.

Acclaimed New York theatre director Jose Quintero directed this his one and only film; as an initial effort, he does quite well. The screenplay is expertly adapted by Gavin Lambert and provides several memorable scenes for the Misses Leigh, Lenya and Browne. Kudos to production designer Roger Furse, the movie was filmed in London but you'd never know it by his sets, he evokes a Rome that is not the sunlit, joyous "Eternal City" of say "Roman Holiday", but one that is ominous and disquieting with a sense of inner decay. Mrs. Stone's sumptuously appointed rooftop apartment perched in lofty splendor above the cascade of the Spanish Steps reflects the lady's breeding and good taste, but ultimately is not a safe haven for her.

The extras in the DVD are the original theatrical trailer and a short featurette entitled "Mrs. Stone: Looking for Love in All the Dark Corners" that is moderately interesting and features Jill St. John and Tennessee Williams biographer Donald Spoto.

Supposedly this was Tennessee Williams favorite film adaption of his works; he considered it almost a poem, and Vivien Leigh as Mrs. Stone one of his truest film heroines. Since his other memorable film heroines included Blanche Du Bois, Maggie the Cat, Catharine Holly and Alexandra del Lago, this is high praise indeed.

Although Ms. Leigh illuminates Mrs. Stone with her artistry, it's regrettable that she played so many ill-fated or unhappy characters in her few film appearances. On the stage she was a sparkling comedienne as in "The Skin of Our Teeth", "The School for Scandal", and "Look After Lulu". Another film released the same year as "Roman Spring..." was a charming romantic comedy called "The Pleasure of His Company" where Lilli Palmer played an enchanting, witty, sophisticated mature woman who more than holds her own with former husband Fred Astaire and current husband Gary Merrill to a happy conclusion. This would have been a welcome change of pace and Vivien Leigh's star would have shone that much brighter if she could have played this role in addition to poor Mrs. Stone.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Heart-breaking 13 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on
It is the most wonderful moment to enjoy Vivien's outstanding performance. The role suits her very much. She could touch those hearts who are also losing their youth. This film is just as good as Katherine Hepburn's "Summertime".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beauty and elegance 20 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on
why you should buy this wonderful movie... -to breathe the magic aura of Rome in the 60's -to admire 24-year-old and breathtakingly handsome Warren Beatty,and Vivien Leigh's great performance and Balmain couture clothes Great Great Great
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