Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Suzanne Pleshette and Troy Donahue
ROME ADVENTURE (1962). Director: Delmer Daves.

"What if something happened to you?" -- Mrs. Bell

"Mother -- what if nothing did?" -- Prudence

Prudence Bell (Suzanne Pleshette of A Rage to Live) decides to resign from her position in a fashionable girls school because she gave a student a too lustily "romantic" novel to read and the old hen board disapprove. Looking for romance herself, she travels to Italy and gets a room in a pensione, where she meets Don (Troy Donahue), who's just been jilted by the wealthy Lyda Kent (Angie Dickinson). On the rebound, Don travels all over Italy with Prudence, as the two fall in love to the strains of Max Steiner's pretty score and all the attractive scenery. But then, who pops back up but Lyda ... Rome Adventure has a few good moments and performances but it's not a very good movie. Pleshette is a good actress, but there's something so unpleasantly aggressive, almost tough, about her that you can understand how she managed to get that tom cat Donahue to the alter (albeit it took two years and the marriage only lasted eight months); she hasn't a trace of vulnerability. As for Donahue, he's slightly better in this than, say, My Blood Runs Cold, perhaps because he was developing some romantic feelings for Pleshette, but anyway you look at it he's no actor. Rosanno Brazzi is the handsome older man whose kisses don't bring out bells in Prudence; Constance Ford -- in a typical Constance Ford movie role -- is the wise older woman who employs Prudence in a book shop; Hampton Fancher is the charmingly shy Albert, an American boy who has a big crush on Prudence; Pamela Austin is a young lady who has a brief flirtation with Albert; Gertrude Flynn is her chaperone; and even Al Hirt shows up playing himself at one point, only to have his haughty model-like date wind up making out with a sexy Italian stallion; all of them are fine. The two best scenes have Prudence and Lyda sparring with each other during dinner with Don and Albert; and a very nice scene between Albert and Prudence on a train. A singer who comes out with "Al di la" in a restaurant deserves his applause, but it's ridiculous when dozens of people start clapping after Don -- remember this is Troy Donahue -- finishes up a poorly delivered speech from Romeo and Juliet [admittedly, Don is no more an actor than Troy is]. As for Brazzi, he had more time to romance Katharine Hepburn (in Venice) in Summertime. Chad Everett is listed in the cast and in the opening credits, but his scenes must have been left on the cutting room floor.

Verdict: Pretty things to look at and listen to but don't expect more. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - boy, Troy D. was certainly beautiful - I'm a sucker for a tall sullen bad-boy blond – but you are so right, he was no actor. Always so wooden...he is the reason that the scene where he beats up Susan Kohner in Imitation of Life is SO high camp.

On the other hand, I love love love Pleshette. Very talented actress, sexy smoky voice, could do comedy or drama with equal finesse. My favorite performance of hers is as Annie in The Birds.

You've made Rome Adventure sound appealing, though, I love looking at pretty people in pretty locales. Will be a perfect Sunday afternoon divertissment!!

Cheers, Bill. Talk soon.

William said...

Don't forget the Steiner score, too!

I loved "The Birds" and I loved Pleshette in it -- it was one of her best performances.

As for Troy -- he was at best eye candy but at least he had that!