Three Coins in the Fountain (film)

Last updated
Three Coins in the Fountain
Three coins.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Sol C. Siegel
Written by John Patrick
Starring
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by William Reynolds
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 20, 1954 (1954-05-20)(USA)
Running time
102 minutes
Budget$1.7 million [1]
Box office$5 million (US rentals); [2] [3] $12 million (worldwide rentals) [4]

Three Coins in the Fountain is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, Louis Jourdan, and Maggie McNamara, and featuring Rossano Brazzi. Written by John Patrick, the film is about three American women working in Rome who dream of finding romance in the Eternal City. [5]

Contents

The film's main title song "Three Coins in the Fountain", sung by an uncredited Frank Sinatra, went on to become an enduring standard. The story was adapted by John Patrick from the novel Coins in the Fountain by John H. Secondari. It was made in Italy during the "Hollywood on the Tiber" era.

At the 27th Academy Awards in 1955, the film received two Academy Awards — for Best Cinematography and Best Song — and was nominated for Best Picture. [6]

Plot

A young American secretary, Maria Williams (Maggie McNamara), arrives in Rome and is greeted by Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters), the woman she is replacing at the "United States Distribution Agency". They drive to the "Villa Eden" Anita shares with Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire), the longtime secretary of the American author John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb), an expatriate living in Rome for the past fifteen years. On their way into town, the three women stop at the famous Trevi Fountain. Frances and Anita tell Maria that according to legend, if she throws a coin in the fountain and makes a wish to return to Rome, she will. Maria and Frances throw in their coins, but Anita, who is planning to return to the United States to marry, declines.

Anita takes Maria to the agency and introduces her to Giorgio Bianchi (Rossano Brazzi), a translator with whom she works. Maria senses that Anita and Giorgio are attracted to each other, though Anita states that the agency forbids its American and Italian employees to fraternize. Later that evening at a party, Maria is attracted by the handsome Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jourdan), despite being warned by Frances and Anita about him being a notorious womanizer. His girlfriends become known as "Venice girls" after he takes them to Venice for romantic trysts. Dino charms Maria, telling her to ignore what she's heard about him.

After the party, Anita and Maria walk home and Anita admits that she has no fiancé waiting back in the United States. She's leaving because she believes she has a better chance of finding a husband in America; wealthy Italian men are not interested in mere secretaries, and the men who are interested are too poor. As they walk, Maria is pinched by a man who pesters her until she is rescued by Giorgio, who then asks Anita to go with him the next day to his family's country farm to attend a celebration. Anita reluctantly agrees.

The next morning, Giorgio picks Anita up in his cousin's dilapidated truck. On their way out of town, they are spotted by her boss, Burgoyne (Howard St. John). On Giorgio's family farm, Giorgio tells Anita that he hopes to become a lawyer, despite his poverty. Anita then climbs into the truck and is almost killed when it rolls down the hill. After Giorgio rescues her, the breathless couple give in to their attraction and they kiss. Meanwhile, back at the apartment, Dino calls for Maria and asks if she will accompany him to Venice. Desiring to see Venice but not wanting to lose Dino's respect, Maria arranges for Frances to chaperone them to Dino's disappointment.

At the agency on Monday, Burgoyne questions Maria about Anita's weekend with Giorgio and although she maintains that Anita did nothing wrong, Burgoyne assumes Anita is having an affair with Giorgio. The following day he fires Giorgio. When Anita finds out, she blames Maria for betraying her confidence and insists on moving out of their apartment. She visits Giorgio, worried that she may have ruined his chances of becoming a lawyer. Giorgio has no regrets.

Meanwhile, Maria sets out to attract Dino's affections. She learns about the modern art he loves, his favorite food and wine, and pretends to learn the piccolo (his favorite instrument). Maria even lies about her background, telling Dino she is three-quarters Italian. Beguiled by how much he apparently has in common with Maria, Dino introduces her to his mother, the Principessa, who expresses her approval. Later, Dino confides in Maria that she is the only girl whom he has ever completely trusted. Troubled by her deception, Maria confesses her subterfuge, even showing Dino her notebook listing his interests. He angrily takes her home.

Frances meets Anita, who admits that she and Giorgio are in love but will not marry because he is too poor. Frances returns home to comfort the guilt-stricken Maria, who is also determined to leave Rome because Dino has not contacted her since her admission. Frances tells her she is glad she is no longer young and susceptible to romance. The next morning, however, Frances suddenly announces to Shadwell that she is returning to the United States, explaining that she does not want to end up as an old maid in a foreign country. Shadwell, unaware that Frances has been deeply in love with him for fifteen years, offers her a marriage of convenience based on mutual respect. Eager to be with him under any circumstances, Frances accepts.

The next day, Shadwell learns that he is terminally ill and has less than a year to live unless he goes to America for experimental treatment. Shadwell returns to his villa and coldly breaks off his engagement to Frances. After Shadwell leaves, Frances learns from his doctor the truth about Shadwell's condition, and then follows him to a café, where she proceeds to match him drink for drink while bickering about whether he should pursue treatment. Completely drunk, Frances climbs into a nearby fountain and sobs about her life. After Shadwell takes her back to the villa and tucks her in, he goes to see Dino at the di Cessi palace. Shadwell tells Dino he is leaving for the United States where he will marry Frances. He uses reverse psychology to provoke Dino into realizing that he loves Maria.

After Anita and Maria are packed and ready to leave, Frances telephones and asks to meet them at the Trevi Fountain. When they arrive, Maria and Anita are disappointed to see the fountain emptied for cleaning. When they are joined by Frances, however, the water springs up again and the women are thrilled by its beauty. Dino and Giorgio then arrive, and as the men embrace their girlfriends, Frances is joined by Shadwell, and they happily admire the fountain, which has proved lucky to them all.

Cast

Reception

Critical response

Upon its theatrical release, the film received generally positive reviews, particularly for its colour and CinemaScope wide-screen cinematography of Italian filming locations. In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote "Three Coins in the Fountain is quite clearly a film in which the locale comes first. However, the nonsense of its fable tumbles nicely within the picture frame." Crowther underscored the film's visual appeal to the audiences of his time.

A nice way to take the movie audience on a sightseeing tour of Rome, with a flying side trip to Venice, through the courtesy of CinemaScope, has been devised in Three Coins in the Fountain, a handsomely colored romance that Twentieth Century-Fox delivered to the Roxy yesterday. The trick is to underpin the picture with flimsy and harmless accounts of the plainly romantic adventures of three American girls in Rome and then chase them with the camera around the Eternal City as they pursue their destinies. [8]

The review in Variety noted that the film "has warmth, humor, a rich dose of romance and almost incredible pictorial appeal." [9]

On Rotten Tomatoes, as of 2019, the film had a 60% positive rating, based on 10 reviews. [10]

Awards and honors

Academy Awards
Directors Guild of America Award

The film was recognised by the American Film Institute in these lists:

Remakes

Three other films based on the same novel have been released. The first was the 1964 musical The Pleasure Seekers starring Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, and Pamela Tiffin, and also directed by Jean Negulesco. The second was a 20th Century Fox movie filmed in 1966 as the pilot for an unsold television series. The film was directed by Hal Kanter, written by Kanter and Melville Sherelson, and starred Cynthia Pepper, Yvonne Craig, and Joanna Moore. The television film was finally broadcast in 1970. Sergio Franchi sang the title song. The third was the 1990 television film Coins in the Fountain starring Loni Anderson.

Three Coins in the Fountain also inspired the 2010 film When in Rome which tells the story of a woman who takes coins from a love fountain in Rome and finds unwanted love. The film starred Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel.

Related Research Articles

<i>Summertime</i> (1955 film)

Summertime is a 1955 British-American Technicolor romance film directed by David Lean and starring Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Darren McGavin, and Isa Miranda. The screenplay by Lean and H.E. Bates is based on the play The Time of the Cuckoo by Arthur Laurents.

Jean Negulesco film director and screenwriter

Jean Negulesco was a Romanian-American film director and screenwriter. He first gained notice for his film noirs and later made such notable films as Johnny Belinda (1948), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Titanic (1953), and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954).

Louis Jourdan French actor

Louis Jourdan was a French film and television actor. He was known for his suave roles in several Hollywood films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Gigi (1958), The Best of Everything (1959), The V.I.P.s (1963) and Octopussy (1983). He played Dracula in the 1977 BBC television production Count Dracula.

Anita Ekberg Swedish actress

Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg was a Swedish actress active in American and European films. She is best known for her role as Sylvia in the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita (1960). Ekberg worked primarily in Italy, where she became a permanent resident in 1964.

<i>The Barefoot Contessa</i> 1954 film by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

The Barefoot Contessa is a 1954 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz about the life and loves of fictional Spanish sex symbol Maria Vargas. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, and Edmond O'Brien.

<i>Legend of the Lost</i> 1957 film by Henry Hathaway

Legend of the Lost is a 1957 Italian-American adventure film produced and directed by Henry Hathaway, shot in Technirama and Technicolor by Jack Cardiff, and starring John Wayne, Sophia Loren, and Rossano Brazzi. The location shooting for the film took place near Tripoli, Libya.

Rossano Brazzi Italian actor and singer

Rossano Brazzi was an Italian actor.

<i>Rome Adventure</i> 1962 film by Delmer Daves

Rome Adventure, also known as Lovers Must Learn, is a 1962 romantic drama film, based on the 1932 novel Lovers Must Learn by Irving Fineman. It was directed by Delmer Daves and stars Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, and Suzanne Pleshette.

<i>Only You</i> (1994 film) 1994 film by Norman Jewison, Cary Woods, Robert N. Fried

Only You is a 1994 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., and Bonnie Hunt. Written by Diane Drake and Malia Scotch Marmo (uncredited), the film is about a young woman whose search for the man she believes to be her soulmate leads her to Italy where she meets her destiny. Upon its release the film received mixed reviews, but critics praised Tomei and Downey's performances.

<i>Count Your Blessings</i> (1959 film) 1959 film by Jean Negulesco

Count Your Blessings is a 1959 drama film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Jean Negulesco, written and produced by Karl Tunberg, based on the 1951 novel The Blessing by Nancy Mitford. The music score was by Franz Waxman and the cinematography by George J. Folsey and Milton R. Krasner. The costume design was by Helen Rose.

<i>South Pacific</i> (1958 film) 1958 film by Joshua Logan

South Pacific is a 1958 American romantic musical film based on the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, which in turn is loosely based on James A. Michener's 1947 short-story collection Tales of the South Pacific. The film, directed by Joshua Logan, stars Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr and Ray Walston in the leading roles with Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary, the part that she had played in the original stage production. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning the Academy Award for Best Sound for Fred Hynes.

<i>Light in the Piazza</i> (film) 1962 film by Guy Green

Light in the Piazza is a 1962 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Guy Green and starring Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi, Yvette Mimieux, George Hamilton, and Barry Sullivan. Based on the 1960 novel The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer, the film is about a beautiful but mentally disabled young American woman traveling in Italy with her mother and the Italian man they meet during one leg of their trip.

<i>When in Rome</i> (2010 film) 2010 film by Mark Steven Johnson

When in Rome is a 2010 American romantic comedy film directed by Mark Steven Johnson, co-written by Johnson, David Diamond and David Weissman. It stars Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. It was released by Touchstone Pictures in the United States on January 29, 2010. Despite receiving negative reviews from critics, it was a box office success, grossing $32,680,633.

<i>Woman Times Seven</i> 1967 film by Vittorio De Sica

Woman Times Seven is a 1967 Italian/French/American co-production comedy-drama film consisting of seven episodes, all starring Shirley MacLaine, most of which deal with aspects of adultery.

<i>Dark Purpose</i> 1964 film by George Marshall

Dark Purpose is a 1964 film directed by George Marshall and starring Shirley Jones, Rossano Brazzi, and George Sanders.

<i>Interlude</i> (1957 film) 1957 film by Douglas Sirk

Interlude is a 1957 American CinemaScope drama romance film directed by Douglas Sirk and starring June Allyson and Rossano Brazzi. The film is a reworking of When Tomorrow Comes, a 1939 picture starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. Both films were based on a novel by James M. Cain. Sirk himself cited Serenade as the title of that book, but in March 2014, in a long article for Senses of Cinema in which he discussed all three works, critic Tom Ryan revealed that both pictures are based on Cain's The Root of His Evil.

<i>We the Living</i> (film) 1942 film by Goffredo Alessandrini

We the Living is a two-part 1942 Italian romantic war film directed by Goffredo Alessandrini and stars Alida Valli, Rossano Brazzi and Fosco Giachetti. It is a film adaptation of Ayn Rand's 1936 novel We the Living.

<i>Volcano</i> (1950 film) 1950 film by William Dieterle

Volcano is a 1950 Italian drama film directed by William Dieterle and starring Anna Magnani, Rossano Brazzi, and Geraldine Brooks. "Vulcano" was filmed on location on Salina Island, in the Aeolian Islands, and in the city of Messina on Sicily.

<i>Angela</i> (1955 film) 1954 film by Dennis OKeefe

Angela is a 1955 American-Italian film noir, written and directed by Dennis O'Keefe, who stars in the film as well. The drama also features Mara Lane, Rossano Brazzi, Arnoldo Foà and others. The film has a voice-over narration that tells the story in flashback, and the film noir type of Angela has been described as femme fatale with elements of betrayal and obsession.

<i>The Ten Commandments</i> (1945 film) 1945 film

The Ten Commandments is a 1945 Italian drama film directed by Giorgio Walter Chili. It features an ensemble of Italian actors in episodes based on the Ten Commandments.

References

  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press, 1989, p. 249.
  2. Solomon (1989), p. 225.
  3. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, January 5, 1955
  4. Daily Variety, November 9, 1955, p.4
  5. "Three Coins in the Fountain". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  6. 1 2 "Awards for Three Coins in the Fountain". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  7. "Full cast and crew for Three Coins in the Fountain". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  8. Crowther, Bosley (May 21, 1954). "Eternal City Glows in Film at the Roxy". The New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  9. "Three Coins in the Fountain". Variety. 1954. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  10. "Three Coins in the Fountain". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  11. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  12. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.