A Romance of the ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ era | Sunday Observer

A Romance of the ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ era

13 January, 2019

A Hollywood movie that captivates the viewer with the romantic scenery of Italy and a beguiling love story, Three Coins in the Fountain is a cinematic gem from the 1950s that will charm romantics across generations. Released in 1954, Three Coins in the Fountain belongs to the era of Hollywood movie making that was called ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ which was during the decade of 1950-1960 when the grand old city of Rome became a hotspot for Hollywood filmmaking. Roman Holiday, Cleopatra, and Helen of Troy are some of the films that can be named as belonging to this particular era.

A romantic comedy directed by Jean Negulesco Three Coins in the Fountain centres on the dreams of three American women who wish to find romance and thereby the path to matrimony. The film was adapted from the novel Coins in the Fountain written by John H. Secondari. Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1955, Three Coins in the Fountain went on to win the academy awards for Best Cinematography and Best Song that year. The title song of the film sung by Frank Sinatra for which the academy award was won, went on to become a hit song of that era.

Frances, Anita and Maria are three women from the U.S who find themselves at crucial junctures in their lives when they realise that their dreams of settling down with a suitable husband must be addressed consciously as they must hope to find prospects for marriage while in Rome or return to the U.S and explore their luck of finding a match in their home country.

Maria and Anita work for the United States Distribution Agency while Frances with whom Anita shares the ‘Villa Eden’, works as secretary to celebrated American writer John Frederick Shadwell. While going to the city together Frances, Maria and Anita come across the famous ‘Trevi Fountain’ about which Frances and Anita tell Maria who was the latest to arrive in Rome, that according to legend, if someone throws a coin into the Fountain and makes a wish to return to Rome that wish will come true.

Three men enter the lives of the three women in ways that cause distrust, envy and souring of relations to happen in the course of the crisscross of ‘emotions and intentions’ that occur when ‘agendas’ begin to surface. Giorgio is a translator who works with Maria. Then there is Prince Dino di Cessi who becomes attracted to Maria when they meet at a party.

And also into the scenario of ‘fated romance’ enters writer John Frederick Shadwell who at first seems like an unlikely candidate.

The story shows how the six of them finally through indecision, undisclosed intentions, misunderstandings and confessions discover happiness as lovers whose dreams do come true.

Watching Three Coins in the Fountain in some ways is like taking a captivating tour in the city of Rome and the manifold allures of Italy which includes Venice, through the magic of cinema.

The craft of the movie maker thus appears to make the beauty of the locales a ‘living element’ that creates the mood and moment, becoming entwined with the characters for the story to gain its drive of romance.

Three Coins in the Fountain is the type of film that makes a lasting impression for those who appreciate romantic comedies of the golden Hollywood era, and just like the desire among visitors to Italy to revisit Rome ‘the eternal city’, to the romantic at heart this is a movie which will prove to be an experience that will endear itself, calling to be watched again.