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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 28 December 1961 (USA)
An aging actress travels to Rome with her husband; after he suddenly dies during the flight, she begins a passionate affair with a young gigolo.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Coral Browne ...
Young man
Lloyd Greener
Carl Jaffe ...
Baron Waldheim (as Carl Jaffé)
Harold Kasket ...
Viola Keats ...
Cleo Laine ...
Mrs. Barrow
Henry McCarty ...
Campbell Kennedy (as Henry McCarthy)


Critics and the public say Karen Stone is too old -- as she approaches 50 -- for her role in a play she is about to take to Broadway. Her businessman husband, 20 years her senior, has been the angel for the play and gives her a way out: They are off to a holiday in Rome for his health. He suffers a fatal heart attack on the plane. Mrs. Stone stays in Rome. She leases a magnificent apartment with a view of the seven hills from the terrace. Then the contessa comes calling to introduce a young man named Paola to her. The contessa knows many presentable young men and lonely American widows. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

contessa | gigolo | actress | death | widow | See All (48) »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 December 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Widow and the Gigolo  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Tennessee Williams' personal favorite film adaptation of any of his works. See more »


The handkerchief Karen Stone takes out is different from the one picked up by the young man outside. See more »


Karen Stone: When I told you I was drifting, did you understand?
Paolo di Leo: Not why it made you sad. I too am drifting, Signora. The whole world, everybody, the stars, everything is drifting. Is it so bad to drift? Is it so unhappy?
Karen Stone: Yes, when you have no where to go.
Paolo di Leo: Your hand's a fist. Open it. Give it to me.
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Crazy Credits

The Warner Brothers shield logo which normally introduces a Warner Brothers film appears at the end of this film instead of at the beginning. See more »


Version of Navazhdeniye (1992) See more »


Love Is a Bore
Music by Richard Addinsell
Lyrics by Paddy Roberts
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Perfect Casting
20 December 2008 | by See all my reviews

The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone is based on a novella by Tennessee Williams and I'm sure it was Tennessee who saw to it that Vivien Leigh was cast in the title role. After all Vivien had won an Oscar for playing that other Tennessee Williams sex starved female, Blanche Dubois.

But Karen Stone is a woman very much like Vivien Leigh was in real life. Karen is an actress who's refused to grow old gracefully, when we meet her she's just been trashed by the London critics for a very bad portrayal of Rosamund in As You Like It. She's 50 trying to play a young girl in her teens. Better she should have played Queen Gertrude in a revival of Hamlet.

Anyway she and her husband decide to take a long holiday in Rome, but as the plane is landing her husband has a heart attack and dies. He's left her well fixed and after a suitable period of mourning Mrs. Stone is ready for a little action in her life.

This is Tennessee Williams so we're talking sex here. Vivien maybe too old to play Rosalind, but she's not too old to enjoy what Rosalind enjoys. And Lotte Lenya who makes a living procuring young men for her clients is willing to supply.

Warren Beatty is what Vivien thinks she wants. Warren is the only real weakness in The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone. He does pout an awful lot in the role and his accent is phony.

But Vivien who was going through mid life crisis for decades before she died in 1967 was perfect casting. I'm not sure how much of it is acting and how much she's just playing herself. The woman had a lot of emotional and physical problems and as her husband Laurence Olivier frankly admitted, she was a nymphomaniac in real life.

Lotte Lenya got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the Countess. However this was the year of West Side Story and Rita Moreno beat her in that category.

This was one of the frankest discussions about sex ever put on film up to that time. In fact though no gay sex is discussed, right at the beginning you see a couple of men meeting for a tryst and you can spot a few obviously gay couples strolling throughout Rome. The Code was definitely coming down.

One of the big pluses The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone has is that it was shot completely in The Eternal City. The movie industry loved Rome at that time with Roman Holiday, Three Coins In The Fountain, The Seven Hills Of Rome and now The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone all showing Rome to its best advantage. The other three films were a lot more upbeat than this one was.

Stage director Jose Quintero did a great job with his cast in his one and only big screen production. The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone was done with Helen Mirren in Vivien Leigh's part several years ago. You might want to see both to compare.

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