Three American women, rooming together while working abroad in Rome, Italy, hope for romance and marriage. Frances, oldest of the three, has been fifteen years a secretary to novelist John Frederick Shadwell, a man whom she loves but whose reclusive nature prompts most people to believe him long since dead. Anita, one week away from returning to America (under the claim of getting married), finally bucks company rules (and gets caught) by finally accepting an invitation from an Italian co-worker to visit his family's farm for his sister's wedding. Newly arrived Maria soon sets her generally innocent eyes on Dino di Cessi, an actual prince with a reputation for womanizing, and makes a play for him by making herself his perfect match. Written by
The title song of this high-rung soap opera is beautifully sung by Frank Sinatra over gorgeous shots of Rome in a sequence before the credits begin. This was bound to have put 1950's audiences in the right frame of mind to enjoy the fluffy, trite, overtly romantic film that follows. Today's audience might have some trouble. The story involves a young lady (McNamara) who travels to Rome to work as a secretary. She is replacing Peters who is set to return back the U.S. for an impending marriage. Then McGuire is the older, more world-weary of the three who wonders if she'll ever find love. Ironically, despite the movie's title, only TWO coins make it into the fountain! I guess a story about three women called "Two Coins in the Fountain" may have confused people? McNamara, coy, elfin and slightly malformed-looking was hot off the success of "The Moon is Blue" and hogs much of the screen time in a pretty predictable romance with ever-suave Jourdan. Her character is consistently irritating, not helped by her "Look Mommy, I did it myself" bangs and horrible ponytail. Peters is ravishing. Though none of the women are enviable, at least she is gorgeous and sexy. Her husky voice helping to cut through the icing of the film, she trots around in snug calf-length skirts and hoop earrings. McGuire has what has to be one of her worst roles. She does well in it, but has little to do but feign interest in the ludicrous, foppish, unattractive Webb. He is a casting casualty, thinking he's intriguing and witty and not being so. Brazzi is interesting to watch as Peters' love interest. He's attractive and practically pants for her, he's so smitten. The director made no less than four of these types of stories (three ladies looking for love) and this one might be the least fascinating (possibly because, unlike the other three, this one doesn't have Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe or Ann-Margret!) The scenery and the title fountain are glorious, but the film lacks zest. Good for a chuckle or two are the ghastly costumes by usually reliable Dorothy Jeakins. A few nice clothes slip in, but much of it looks like science fiction. It is completely stunning that this got a Best Picture Oscar nomination. It's not an actively horrible movie, but it isn't anything anyone would dream would be worthy of the top honor in the industry. By now it's type has been copied so much that modern viewers may very well sleep through it.
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