Friday, February 13, 2009

Rome Adventure (1962)

Rome Adventure (1962) is a little treasure. It's a wonderful escapist romance filmed on location in Italy. No really! In Italy. Not painted backdrops or spliced in documentary footage, but real locations. Watching this film felt like I was just took a vacation in 1960's Italy.

This film is Suzanne Pleshette's first major film role. She plays Prudence Bell, a sheltered New England librarian who is about to be fired for letting a student read a controversial novel Lovers Must Learn. She decides to quit instead and to escape to Italy to find romance. The film is based on the novel Lovers Must Learn and the book itself is a catalyst for the plot in the movie. I would not consider this a sex comedy or a full-on drama. It's a romantic movie with both comedic and dramatic moments.

Prudence sets sail on a cruise liner to Italy (oh how I wish I could do that!). On the boat she meets boring and love-lorn etruscologist Albert (Hampton Fancher) and suave debonnair Italian man Roberto (Rossano Brazzi). Neither of the two men are able to win over her heart, like American art student Don (Troy Donahue) who wines and dines her and whisks her off for a romantic vacation to Lake Maggiore. Yet Don is tangled up with Lydia (Angie Dickinson), a rich brat who abandoned him for another man, only to come back to Don when she needs his help. The people in Lydia's life are all pawns in her game and she sets out to destroy Prudence's innocent love for Don.

Angie Dickinson mere presence is the best part of this movie. She is the sexpot who is the complete opposite of Prudence. Her character serves to show the fundamental differences between a good girlfriend and a bad one. Plus they give her a beautiful apartment and an awesome wardrobe!

Like Palm Springs Weekend (1963), the music in this film is notable. The musical score is by Max Steiner. The main theme is the Italian song Al Di La and famous Italian vocalist Emilio Pericolo sings it in one of the romantic scenes. Variations of the theme song follow the two lovebirds throughout the movie.

Famous jazz trumpeter Al Hirt (aka "The King of the Trumpet") has a small role in the film. He plays a jazz trumpeter (no kidding!) who has a beautiful yet dangerous girlfriend. My favorite scene in this movie is when he introduces his girlfriend to Don and Prudence. In his introduction, he has her reveal the knife she carries strapped to her thigh. He says that he doesn't know whether she'll leave him or kill him. Prudence is horrified and Don is both fascinated and confused. The whole scene just made me laugh.


  1. Ciao!
    Great post!
    The theme song Al Di La, written by the great Italian song writing team Donida/Mogol was in fact the Italian entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1961. It was Betty Curtis who sang it in the festival.
    In the US I believe it was Connie Francis who had the biggest hit with it(1962).

    Al Hirt in a movie? Gee!
    I think I have to put this on my list as well!

  2. Definitely going on my list of films to see :)

  3. OMG I love Rossano Brazzi!

    This sounds an awful lot like a redux of David Lean's Summertime, (I think in Brazzi's first starring role).(Ooh thanks for inspiring me for a post!)

    Either way I have to check this movie out! Thanks for bringing this to my attention!


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