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A Guilty Pleasure
on 15 August 2005
This most fondly remembered film from the 1950's is romantic escapism at its finest and most frivolous. There are no deeper meanings here, just a beautiful and colorful dish of Rome garnished with three equally pleasing romantic stories. An attractive cast and an appropriately romantic score from the great Victor Young make this film based on John H. Secondari's popular novel of the day a rousing success. Sinatra's fine rendition of the Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn title song doesn't hurt a bit either.
Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters and Maggie McNamara are three secretaries who follow the tradition of throwing a coin over their shoulder into the beautiful fountains in Rome and making a wish. The wish is supposed to be about staying in Rome forever, but of course is really about finding love and staying in Rome forever.
Frances (McGuire) is in love with her boss John Shadwell (Clifton Webb), a famous writer who has been in romantic Rome many years, yet can't see what everyone else already knows. Anita (Jean Peters) is going back home to America in two weeks so breaks office rules when she accepts an invitation from Georgio (Rossano Brazzi) to the country for a weekend. And Maria (Maggie McNamara) is the new arrival, enraptured by the beauty of Rome and a playboy Prince (Louis Jourdan) she sets her sights on.
Nothing is rushed in Rome as one of the girls explains to newcomer Maria, and neither will this film be. Each story takes its time but the scenery is so beautiful you never get bored, not even for a moment. There are complications to each romance I'll refrain from revealing here, so there will at least be a few surprises awaiting you if you have not seen this before.
The film begins at the fountains in Rome and will end there, with the title song being sung by a chorus as everyone's romantic sory is sorted out in enjoyable fashion. Color was only good in musicals and escapist fare like this. Here the glorious technicolor should get star billing, as it holds our attention even during the more leisurely moments of the story.
If you don't want a heavy meal but like to go straight to the desert instead, you can't go wrong with this one. A great film to kill a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon.