"I must be honest--I bought "Three Coins in the Fountain" because I thought my wife would enjoy it. How right I was ! At the risk of sounding sexist, this 1954 production is definitely a movie aimed at women--and men wanting to impress women--it was probably a great "date flick" !
The plot is quite conventional, standard soap opera fare. Three young and single American women are employed as secretaries in Rome. They are played by Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, and--as "the new kid on the block"--Maggie McNamara. Of course, all three find romance, not to mention ever-changing wardrobes and lavish living accommodations. In 1954, secretaries must have made a bundle in Italy ! For gorgeous and seductive Ms. Peters, romance comes in the form of a ruggedly handsome Italian law student, Rossano Brazzi ( later to have Mitzi Gaynor swooning in "South Pacific" ). Young, naive Ms. McNamara attracts the attention of an Italian prince with a womanizing reputation ( Louis Jourdan, a poster boy for charm and sophistication ). She has to wait for much of the film, but Ms. McGuire is finally "noticed" by her stuffy, self-absorbed boss and best-selling author ( Clifton Webb, very badly cast as a romantic lead ). These relationships go through various predictable complications, with the steamy Peters/Brazzi pairing as the most realistic.
However, at this point, we should mention the real star of this film--Italy. Has that country ever been photographed more beautifully than in "Three Coins" ? This is one of the earliest Cinemascope productions, shot on location in colour--the views of Rome, the Italian countryside, and spectacular Venice are breath-taking. I agree with other positive technical reviews of this DVD--the film has been restored to its original glory, and this is a beautiful disc to own.
Of course, the film is still fifty years old, and dated in a number of ways. I still got caught up in it though because of the fabulous scenery and the three leading ladies are certainly attractive--I'm also sure that female viewers won't mind watching those two continental "hunks", Louis Jourdan and Rossano Brazzi !
The title song won an Oscar, and was a big hit for both Frank Sinatra--his version opens the film--and the Four Aces.
So--bottom line--a light, frothy confection from the fifties in a most beautiful package. There is one serious drawback--for us guys, this disc could become very expensive--my wife wants to spend our next holiday in Italy !"
C. Leidig | Akron, Ohio United States | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to that malcontent Shadow Woman. This is an old-fashioned, lush romantic movie of the fifties. The scenery is beautiful as is Louis Jourdan. The plot is handled wonderfully. There are no boring stretches. The movie has funny moments, but the prevailing theme is unrequited love. Don't miss this movie."
One of the Most Romantic Beginnings in Any Hollywood Movie
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 09/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't think you'll find much to top this opener, with the fountains of Rome being turned on one by one while Frank Sinatra croons an ulta-smooth rendition of the title song. Ohhhh!
This movie has a lot going for it after the opening song too, (unlike "Raintree County" for instance), so you'll be riveted to the screen. For starters, it's a wonderful travelogue of Rome, in glorious technicolor. And then, it boasts three of my favorite actors, none of whom ever gave a bad performance: Clifton Webb, Louis Jourdan, and Rosanno Brazzi.
These men each figure in a love story with one of three American secretaries living in Rome, respectively Dorothy McGuire, Maggie McNamara, and Jean Peters. In Webb's case, he is McGuire's boss, and has been totally unaware of her real feelings these past ten years. Jourdan is a wealthy playboy used to preying on innocent young girls who's having the tables turned on him by the very predatory McNamara. And lovelorn Rosanno Brazzi--who always makes my pulse flutter--has been pining after Peters, but afraid to tell her of his love, since he believes her engaged to another. How these unlikely scenarios resolve themselves is a delight for the viewer. Take my advice on this one: If you want to be swept away some night by romantic escapism, "Three Coins in the Fountain" is your best bet."
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 01/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a sucker for all the Fox movies with the plot about the three (sometimes four) girls all stuck together through some plot contrivance, a housing shortage, a graduation ceremony, or what not, and then over time we see the different paths the girls take. Over and over again 20th Century Fox trotted out this idea and you can see it in everything from HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE to VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. (THE BEST OF EVERYTHING is another favorite). THREE COINS is a unique example of this form, and a strange one, in that it parcels out its three stories one at a time, instead of dealing with them interwoven through the whole story.
You'll notice for example that first we get the story about Jean Peters and Rossanno Brazzi, and then that story kind of "peters" out and the middle section of the film is devoted to the lighthearted pursuit of Louis Jourdan by Maggie McNamara. Finally, bringing up the rear, Dorothy McGuire and Clifton Webb share an autumnal passion. It's almost as though for reasons of budget or convenience the film could have been made simultaneously in three large chunks, with the three girls being spotted together only in a few places. (And all the main characters seem to meet only at the very end.)
I have often wondered if Arthur Laurents and Sondheim and Bernstein caught a showing of this 1954 film while working, perhaps, on WEST SIDE STORY? It's funny that two of the girls here are called Maria and Anita. I always expect them to burst into song with a "BOY LIKE THAT" duet.
Jean Peters is so sexy in this movie. She really makes you believe she'd throw away everything respectable to pursue her Latin lover. She is like a real-life D H Lawrence heroine. In contrast, the Maggie McNamara story is pretty puerile, I like her, but her lying and scheming to please Prince Dino isn't cute, it's sickening. As for Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire, I have only one thing to say--that their skillful playing makes an unlikely story almost believable. McGuire was 38 when she made this movie--by the script you'd think she was 88, she is supposedly completely over the hill, too old for children, too old to catch a man. Nevertheless, the plot has a primitive power that hooks you every time. And the new DVD has those wonderful, gorgeously restored, long takes of Rome's fountains, with that melting music pouring it on like liquid sunlight."
Fine romantic story and slice of post-WWII life
C. Leidig | 06/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I had been touting this movie to my (somewhat younger) Wife for years as a charming "chick flick" I remembered my Mother taking me to in the 50s (when I was much younger), I was surprised at how good it was when we watched it the other night. I had searched stores for it with no luck, finally located it on Amazon.com, and brought it home. In addition to keeping my Wife's rapt attention with the fine romantic story lines (3, as in Coins), the movie is an excellent slice of both post-WWII American expatriate and Italian life. It stands up well on all measures to what is out there today. It's a must-see for a woman, and a can-easily-sit-through for a guy."