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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 April 2016
Although Katharine Hepburn puts in a typically impressive and quite subtle performance as the nervy, lonely American spinster abroad (perhaps seeking romance), Jane Hudson, it is Venice’s stunning backdrop to David Lean’s 1955 film that for me steals the show. The lush colours of Jack Hildyard’s cinematography really can’t help but impress and even though a cinematographer’s job on location in this magical place should probably be regarded as something of a 'slam dunk’, Hildyard does full justice to the location, giving us a whole series of idiosyncratically shot moments (close-ups on gargoyles, Venetian lions, etc) evoking the unique architectural and artistic heritage of the city. The bustling, touristic nature is always, of course, present (it was nearly as ‘bad’ back then as it was last year when I was there!), but Lean also takes us off the beaten track, via some nice touches, as Jane espies a stray cat and then comes to a halt at one of the city’s many, seemingly unavoidable dead-end passageways.

The film’s central narrative, the romance between Hudson and Rossano Brazzi’s’s suave antiques shop owner (of dubious authenticity), Renato de Rossi, takes some time to get going and is fairly conventional when it does. Brazzi is solid enough (though I suspect his 'forced’ English detracts somewhat from the performance), but the acting honours are undoubtedly Hepburn’s, whose vulnerability really connects. Elsewhere, the comedic element of 'small-minded Americans abroad’ is nicely played up by the portrayal of Jane’s fellow pensione (hotel) guests, whilst one of the film’s most engaging (and affectionate) threads is that between the yearning spinster and Gaetano Autiero’s young 'orphan’, Mauro. In addition, there is also a nice cameo from noted Italian actress Isa Miranda as pensione proprietress, Signora Fiorini. The trajectory of the central couple’s developing romance is relatively predictable, but does include some touching (and cinematic) moments, notably that of the elusive gardenia floating down the canal and then (in a reprise of this moment) in the film’s impressive and moving denouement. It’s certainly a film worth catching for fans of Hepburn and (particularly) of Venice.
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on 31 May 2009
I have just watched this fim on Five, and made up my mind that I had to have a copy. Having been to Venice many times, I could totally identify with Hepburn's awkwardness at being alone in such a romantic city, surrounded by couples in love. How good would it be to go in a shop and come out with someone like Rossano Brazzi!! Both actors gave the performance of their lives, and the cinematography of Venice was in a class of its own- I was transported back there.Throughout the film,I could almost feel the sun and smell the place. Absolute masterpiece on the same level as the great love stories such as Brief Encounter.
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on 28 April 2012
This is a much loved film classic which is set in the most romantic city in the world and tells the story of a middle aged American spinster who has saved up for her holiday of a lifetime and falls in love, not just with Venice but with a handsome Italian who makes her stay even more memorable. The ending is poignant but the message is clear - that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Beautifully made, wonderfully acted by Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi -just the job for a cold evening in winter.
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on 24 March 2017
Lovely views of Venice in the fifties - a really romantic film with good leads and great scenery. Highly recommended.
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on 25 September 2017
Good film and dvd in excellent condition - very pleased with it.
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on 7 August 2017
Classic elegance of the two stars in such a beautiful setting is just sublime.
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on 27 June 2016
Love this film. Shot beautifully and is perfect to watch on a lazy summers afternoon. The storyline is heartwarming and the scenery is beautiful. I would love to have visited Venice in the era this film was shot.
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on 29 November 2009
If you havent been to Venice....here it is.The film is both a travelogue and love story sprinkled with humour. The approach by train across the water to the city is an unmissable ingredient of a visit, the architecture all the more sensational framed by watery reflection and the lack of vehicles. Possibly a film for the more mature,but in a positive way. Beautiful and poignant, Katherine Hepburn at her best . A grown up love story that doesn't have the predictable ending. An example of life not often portayed: older woman finds love unexpectantly, experiencing the magic of new love usually connected with the young. It shows Venice in all its poetic glory, Marvellous.
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on 9 June 2017
A good oldie
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on 12 January 2018
I really enjoyed this lovely romantic film, the stars of it have real star quality
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