Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
51 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
An enormous box office hit...
Nazi_Fighter_David3 December 1999
This pleasant comedy-romance opens with the beautiful view of the Fountain of Trevi in Rome, combined by another famous fountain garden at the villa d'Este in Tivoli where a great water organ exploits another attribute of moving water: its sound...

But in "Three Coins in the Fountain," the 'sound of music' is the fine title song - sung by Frank Sinatra - that carries the whole picture...

The film is about the search for love by a simple trio... Three American secretaries believing in love, and throwing their coins in the 'Fontana Di Trevi' for a wish, for a romance, for an idealized love...

The first person is Dorothy McGuire, the confidant secretary in love (since 25 years) with her elderly boss, the American writer Clifton Webb...

The second is Jean Peters, a pretty indecisive brunette, doubtful in seeking love in Italy with Rossano Brazzi...

The third, a decisive Maggie McNamara aspiring to catch a wealthy suspicious lover (Louis Jourdan) by the art of lying...

Webb, Jourdan and Brazzi bring to the production its significant flavor... The film, nominated for Best Picture, won two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Music Song...

With a stunning photography in CinemaScope and sumptuous Technicolor of Rome and Venice, the motion picture is in itself a thin entertainment, but the title song carried it...
39 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fountains and magic
val-mainwood1 August 2008
Lighten up, boys and girls! You must allow the director to display irony and fun in a feel-good movie in Rome not long after the fall of fascism! And how exotic it must have appeared to most of the world's population who at that time had not travelled abroad.

It does make you wonder how those secretaries could afford those glamorous clothes, and be so close to princes and movers and shakers of post-war Rome. Perhaps a gentle poke at role reversal?

One of the best tunes ever written, wonderful locations, and I don't care a damn about the Trevi fountain behaving inconsistently - that is the nature of fountains, and in Rome they are all drenched in magic!
33 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Rome, the eternal city of love
bkoganbing15 March 2005
By the Fifties, the movie-going public was no longer satisfied with studio versions of far away places. They wanted to see the real thing and Hollywood had to give it to them. The year before Three Coins In a Fountain came out, Paramount had done another Rome based film in Roman Holiday. Though it had that winning romantic team of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Paramount played it on the cheap and wouldn't splurge for color.

Not to be outdone by rivals, Darryl F. Zanuck went whole hog on terrific color cinematography and three romances. Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, and Maggie McNamara are three Americans sharing an apartment in Rome. Peters and McNamara work for a U.S. government agency and McGuire is secretary to expatriate novelist Clifton Webb.

The fountain of course is Rome's famous Fountain of Trevi where tourists are lured into throwing their pennies with the promise of good fortune and a return to the eternal city. Frank Sinatra sings the title song over the opening credits and the Four Aces also had a mega-hit out of that tune. I remember as a lad in the Fifties, hearing that constantly on the radio. It was a BIG factor in the success of this film and won an Oscar for composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn.

McNamara and Peters fall for Prince Louis Jourdan and aspiring lawyer and co-worker Rossano Brazzi respectively. They play the continental lovers effortlessly.

20th Century Fox during the 50s toned down Clifton Webb's acerbity in order to make him leading man material. They never quite succeeded, but Dorothy McGuire conveys that she has a deep and abiding affection for Webb.

The usual romantic complications occur, but it all works out in the end as it always does in these films.

But the star is Rome and even seeing it 50 years ago, you'll still want to a pack a bag and see the place after watching this film.
37 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't mention the war ...
derekcreedon19 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Feminists would tear it to shreds and the script's as light as a balloon but this lovely airy fairy-tale about three secretary-birds in romantic old Rome works like a dream - provided you don't dwell too much on certain aspects.. Foreign travel was not a commonplace for most punters back in 1954 so Fox's full-time commitment to CinemaScope opened up the world in more ways than one. With Sinatra on the soundtrack ushering in the Oscar-winning title-song over a scenic tour of the Eternal City the blend of ancient and modern was irresistible. Little Maria from the mid-West (Maggie McNamara) ushers in the story, arriving to work at a U.S. Government Agency. She's hardly got her coat off the first day before she's invited to a cocktail-party where she meets handsome Prince Dino (Louis Jourdan) and is determined to land him. ("Palazzo ? That's a palace, isn't it ?" Clever girl). Her strategy, encouraged by her flatmates, is to find out what his cultural tastes and interests are and then pretend, somewhat sketchily, to share them. This leads to some fatuous conversations which wouldn't fool a ten-year-old and are understandably short on screen. For a knowing Lothario (he'd already tried to lure her to Venice for the weekend) Dino seems remarkably gullible and gets terribly upset when she finally confesses the truth.

Meanwhile,'Big Sister' Anita (Jean Peters),struggling with convention and the agency's strict no-fratting rule, gets close to Giorgio (Rossano Brazzi, lower lip a-quiver) following a not-too-well-done incident with a runaway car. He's a humble interpreter from the wrong side of town who wants to be a lawyer but has to support Mamma and his twenty-five brothers and sisters. When their liaison is discovered by the boss's wife, who seems to be everywhere, Giorgio gets the sack and Anita, feeling responsible, is all set to share his bleak future. It's left to Clifton Webb to play fairy-godfather as the expatriate novelist Shadwell (the man who wrote Winter Harvest, we're told, but we're not told what it's about), smoothly tossing-off a new masterpiece between epigrams and suddenly proposing marriage to Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire), his loyal secretary for the last fifteen years (remember that) whom the film has been regarding as practically on the edge of the grave because she's 35 and hasn't got a man. (Shadwell's housekeeper kindly offers her a kitten for companionship). But when Shadwell's told he has a brain tumour he reneges on the offer as a moment of madness and won't tell her the real reason. Even after she finds out he won't shift ground so, dejected, she gets drunk and goes wading (not in the Fountain, it's not LA DOLCE VITA). Shadwell takes her home for a dry-out and a heart-to-heart which puts them back on track. Webb and McGuire handle these scenes touchingly, with grace and humour. He thereupon sorts out the younger set's problems with some influential words in the right places and all six reunite at Rome's new tourist attraction to a choral reprise of the theme-song.

No one ever mentions that minor historical disturbance known as World War 11 in which the Eternal City was somewhat heavily involved. This would not be so surprising were it not for the oldsters' pointed references to "fifteen years of contentment" which would have dated from about 1938. As American residents how would they have lived, what were they up to all those years ? Speech-writing for the Fascisti, possibly ? No, I don't think so either. Rather an extreme if not wilfully perverse case of diplomatic forgetfulness in face of a new world-situation, a thriving overseas market and the no doubt enthusiastic goodwill and co-operation of an indigenous people who used to be on the wrong side. History here is reflected not in bomb-sites but in museums basking sedately, like the characters, in perpetual brochure-sunshine.
20 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
CinemaScope vacations in Italia!
gregcouture28 April 2003
Not much to add to the other comments here, except to say that it may be understandable that this one got a Best Picture nomination in the 1954 Oscar derby if you were able to see a pristine print, with a stereo soundtrack, in a first-class theater as I had the opportunity of doing when it was first released. The opening sequence of numerous fountains in full flood as Frank Sinatra crooned the Oscar-winning title song was just dazzling to those of us Americans who hadn't yet made a Grand Tour of Europe. What followed contained no surprises, certainly, though some eyebrows were raised by the Jean Peters/Rossano Brazzi "illicit" romance. I never understood how Maggie McNamara ever passed muster with any studio's casting director, nor how the makers of this pastiche could have thought that the suavely handsome Louis Jourdan, playing an Italian of noble descent, would finally settle for a manipulative young American whose machinations had, prior to his capitulation, been nakedly revealed. The lovely Ms. McGuire setting her cap for the aging, fastidious old fop, so well incarnated by Mr. Webb, was another of the difficulties even those first audiences had in suspending their disbelief.

But, oh!, those glorious travelogue shots of Rome and Venice. Widescreens, back then, really were worth briefly deserting one's living room "boob tube" and letting one's mind drift into Nirvana as beautiful DeLuxe Color made one believe the world was an impossibly beautiful place. A new DVD version which approximates the original CinemaScope ratio is now available, a distinct improvement over the formatted VHS tape previously available.
31 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Beautiful somewhat above average film
vincentlynch-moonoi21 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I hadn't seen this film since 1962 when it was on NBC's "Saturday Night At The Movies"...51 years ago! What surprised me most in re-seeing it is that there really isn't one star of the's very much an ensemble cast.

And, it's a darned good cast. You've got Clifton Webb as an American author living in Rome, who has a relationship he doesn't even realize with his secretary -- Dorothy McGuire. Then you have Jean Peters as one of the coin tossers. That famous French actor Louis Jourdan plays an Italian prince (yes, I know...I guess they couldn't find a real Italian). And Rossano Brazzi -- an Italian -- as an Italian who works for the American government. And then there's Maggie McNamara -- who may remind you just a little bit of Audrey Hepburn -- as another American coin tosser.

I always liked Clifton Webb, and he's very good here, although this is not his finest film. Dorothy McGuire almost steals the show. Jean Peters is very good, as is Louis Jourdan. Rossano Brazzi is good here, although he is somewhat shortchanged by his screen time. Maggie McNamara is very good, and I'm surprised she didn't become a bigger star.

And as the song asks -- which one will the fountain bless? Lest you think this is one of those movies where it's all one big happy ending...well, one major character is unexpectedly dying. So, the fountain doesn't bless everyone in this film, although for most of the main players, it does lead them to happiness.

The script isn't a somewhat typical romance, and it's pretty pleasant. The extensive photography of Rome and Italy is absolutely stunning, and its worth watching the film for that alone. And you get a sense of the happy-go-lucky nature of Italy back in the day. The story line will hold your attention, although it's nothing unique. And, there is the (oddly uncredited) Frank Sinatra singing the title song.

This is definitely worth a least once.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Colorful fluff
preppy-38 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Basically a travelogue of Rome with a light story of three women meeting, losing, then getting the men of their dreams. The photography is beautiful, the acting is OK, nice music score. Basically a no brainer movie. The prime reason to see it, for me, was Rosanno Brazzi and Louis Jourdan. They're so young and VERY handsome in this film (when Brazzi smiled my knees went weak!) that they're fun to watch. Try to see it letter-boxed--the pan and scan version shown most often on TV is terrible.
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Picturesque, Usually Pleasant, But Very Insubstantial
Snow Leopard16 November 2004
This is the kind of movie that's most suitable for occasions when you just want something nice to look at, without having to pay much attention and without needing to worry about anything that might jar the senses. It's very picturesque, with many sequences set in interesting and attractive Italian settings. The characters, cast, and story are all innocuous, but they are never especially interesting.

The title sequence is very enjoyable, with the Sinatra song accompanied by many excellent views of Rome. But it sets the expectations a little too high, since the rest of the movie is rather commonplace in all respects other than the settings. The cast is solid, but none of them really get the kind of character that allows them to stand out. The story is pleasant and sometimes enjoyable, but is too often bland, predictable, and/or implausible.

It's still a decent way to pass the time if your expectations aren't too high. It would probably have been a little better if it were a bit shorter, since there is just not enough story material to fill the whole running time without it becoming too noticeable.
18 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"A pinch is a pinch in any man's language"
jhkp28 September 2018
Three Coins In The Fountain deftly weaves together three love stories about American secretaries in Rome. Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire), who has been in Rome for 15 years, lives with a younger woman, Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters), and they're joined by another young woman, Maria Williams (Maggie McNamara), just arrived from the States.

Frances has been in love with her boss, the expatriate American writer, John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb), all these years. Anita gets into a forbidden relationship with Georgio (Rossano Brazzi), a translator who works at her place of employment (a US government agency), where office relationships are taboo. Maria meets a playboy prince (Louis Jourdan), and comes up with a plan to get him interested in her as more than just a prospective conquest.

It's not deep, but it's all very well done, good to look at, fairly witty and generally involving. It's really the nicely-drawn characters, the somewhat sopisticated dialogue, the enjoyable performances that keep you interested, though the scenery is certainly worth the price of admission.

The music of Victor Young adds a great deal to the enjoyment of the film. Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn penned the title tune, sung by Frank Sinatra (offscreen) as musical accompaniment to a prologue that showcases the fountains of Rome.

Dorothy Jeakins designed the attractive fashions for the three women stars.

CinemaScope doesn't have the thrills on TV that it must have had on the big screens of the 1950s, but there is enough in the way of clever writing and attractive acting to interest the viewer. Three Coins In The Fountain is a fine example of colorful, light entertainment.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
brilliantly metaphorical
kola196517 December 2011
Whilst ignoring the glossy subject matter of the film, this is a great satire on how America views Europe, and how that view is perceived by Europeans: the American characters are parochial and surprised whenever another fellow countryman displays any culture, whilst the European characters are all stereotypically over-sexed, over-stylised and painfully cultured. This film is about as European as "Happy Days" relates to the reality of life in America. Everyone lives in huge flats/houses, and the outside scenes look like they were filmed at 6 in the morning... if you've ever been to any European city, then you'll know that it's a lot busier and bustling than depicted here in the superbly photographed location shots. As usual, Europe is seen as living in the past, with all that funny sounding food and affected cultural idiosyncrasies, the buildings are all pre-historic, crumbling and steeped in shadow, the general public are depicted as being wolfish and spending most of their time pinching girls or riding around on scooters. It appears to be a "nouvelle vague" film, made for non-European audiences, as a joke at the expense of that audience. Look under the initial fluff, and there is quite a witty and biting satire on cultural mores.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Romance in the age of President Eisenhower
theowinthrop14 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Let us say this - the film is an eye-filler. Cinemascope was just starting and the use of the city of Rome as a backdrop was an excellent one. One only wishes a more charming and better film (such as ROMAN HOLIDAY) had been the first to use it, but that film was shot in black and white, and not in a big screen format like cinema-scope. Yet that film holds up better.

There is an unwritten rule regarding screenplays - keep them relatively simple or the story is stretched beyond acceptable belief. As this is a romantic film we are willing to let it stretch a little, but certain points about it that were acceptable in 1954 are now seen as hard to believe.

The plot deals with three women who are Americans and find themselves working in Rome. Two are connected to the American Embassy there, represented by Howard St. John. St. John was a capable, if unexciting, actor. He was the original General Bullmoose in the musical "L'il Abner" (and like Peter Palmer repeated his performance in the film version). He was usually playing professional men (lawyers, bankers, diplomats) many of whom if not crooked were willing to accept a degree of accommodation with unlikeable types for some advantage (in the film of Woody Allen's play DON'T DRINK THE WATER, St. John is willing to allow an innocent American family get smeared by a Communist Regime as spies so he could make headlines about negotiating their release for an upcoming political campaign). He is also recalled as Broderick Crawford's legal adviser in BORN YESTERDAY. St. John fit in well (including his homburg hats) with the style of the Eisenhower years.

Here St. John is observing the behavior of two of the woman, Maggie MacNamara and Jean Peters, making sure they toe the line regarding no fraternizing with Italians. But the three woman (the third is Dorothy Maguire) are walking by the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and when discussing the legend that you can get your wish there they throw their coins into the fountain (hence the title of the film) wishing for staying on in Rome or for romance. MacNamara meets a local Prince played by Louis Jordan, and Peters meets a young man working at the Embassy (Rosanno Brazzi) and two romances start up. St. John is not thrilled at this, and ends (or tries to end) the one between Peters and Brazzi by firing Brazzi. He can't do much with MacNamara and Jordan, as the latter is not attached to the Embassy, and is pretty important in Italy itself.

Maguire has been already living in Rome for 15 years. Originally working at the embassy, she has become the secretary of a famous novelist played by Clifton Webb. Although she occasionally goes out with St. John, she is frequently in the company of Webb as well. We subsequently learn that she has been carrying the torch for Webb all these years, but he is unaware of it.

Now it as been pointed out by other writers on this website that Webb, talented performer that he was in film, was the closest thing that the movies could produce as a closet "Gay" man in the movies of the 1940s and 1950s. Intellectual, sharp tongued, frequently cruel (in his serious roles like Waldo Lydecker or Eliot Templeton) he was amusing (Mr. Belvedere or MR. SCOUTMASTER or DREAMBOAT) and always attention getting. But the thought that he could have any woman quietly carrying a torch for him for 15 years is a stretch - I say this even after seeing him as Frank Gilbreth in CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, as the ultimate father and husband - aided by Myrna Loy in that role. Yet we find him in such a position here, and playing it as though it all makes sense. He even has a chance to show that he can be noble to Maguire when he learns of an unfortunate turn of events.

The other two romances rise and collapse due to economic pressures (Peters and Brazzi) and character failure (MacNamara and Jordan). How does the film end. I will only add that the script writers decided to turn Webb into a noble lover and a deus ex machina at the conclusion.

I take it that this was fine in 1954, the year this film was made and the year of my birth. Ike was President only one year, and we had a confidence in our nation having a fairly flawless future if we only listened to the wisdom of the wise and old. And Webb just fit the bill for that in this romantic film.

The performances are pretty good, including MacNamara - who a year before had gotten critically good notices (and even an Oscar nomination) in the now dated and abysmal THE MOON IS BLUE. Here her stridency in that role is tone down, and she actually is acceptable in her pursuit of Jordan. Jordan is good as a man who believes in trust as the cornerstone of love. Peters is a practical girl who nearly loses Brazzi due to his relative poverty. And Maguire makes the most of her improbable role, especially in a late drunk scene sequence.

For the performances and the cinematography it is a "7". But the story would need real repair work if the film was redone today.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mainly watchable for its scenes of an almost empty Rome, and Jean Peters (sigh)
BOUF7 October 2007
It's been plagiarised and remade so many times that it seems very ho-hum these days, but even when I first saw it, aged about 14, I wondered why the gorgeous Dorothy McGuire was considered to be old, and why she felt so strongly for the Clifton Webb character, who clearly (to me) was not romantically interested in women. It's a shame that so little is seen of Anita (Jean Peters, one of those tragically under-used actresses), who is a much more interesting character than the breathtakingly dull Maria (Maggie MacNamara). Maria comes to Rome from the mid West and leaves after a month because she's unsuccessful in hooking a prince. Sad! In fact none of the romantic story lines are credible. It's interesting how little cutting there is in the dramatic scenes - due to the anamorphic lenses, and the heftiness of the cameras, I suppose. It's interesting to contrast with 'North West Passage', released 5 years later. In that exciting movie Geoffrey Unsworth makes great use of the CinemaScope camera.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You might want change back......
Poseidon-330 September 2002
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.
22 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Three Coins in the Fountain Made it Mine ***1/2
edwagreen14 March 2009
Dazzling cinematography and a wonderful story line made this 1954 blockbuster film the treasure that it is.

The story of the loves of 3 secretaries in Rome is absolutely captivating.

Headed by a fine cast, the film succeeds beyond expectations. The real-life tragic Maggie McNamara is engaging as an Audrey Hepburn look alike who finds romance with a young Louis Jourdan, who sheds his usual French accent in this film. McNamara tries to learn everything about the wealthy Jourdan character to snag him. However, her true love for him, makes her confess what she has done.

The always reliable Dorothy McGuire and Clifton Webb again show their mettle. She has been working for him for 15 years in Rome, when she decides to go home and Webb, to keep her, proposes marriage. She happily accepts but when Webb learns that he has a terminal brain tumor, he tells her that he was too impulsive in proposing. Their resolution is most poignant in the film.

Rossano Brazzi and Jean Peters play the third couple here. A misunderstanding and violation of company rules costs Brazzi his job, but love will conquer all.

This picture is definitely for the romantic and young at heart. There had to be some controversy here when the title song of this film beat out The Man Who Got Away from Judy Garland's "A Star is Born." There should have been a tie in this category.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Saltimboca alla romana and Lacrima Christi
jotix10029 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Life in post-war Italy is the basis of this colorful Twentieth Century Fox release of 1954. Of course, this had nothing to do with the problems the country was facing at the time, but in many ways, it was a happier time and the living was easy, for at least, the Americans that happen to be in the story. Where were the masters of neo-realism when we needed them? But then again, it would not have been a Hollywood film that could be enjoyed by the movie going public of those years.

Three American women come to Rome to work in different venues. There is Frances, the oldest of the trio, who has been in the country the longest. Then there is Anita, a secretary for a United States agency. Maria is the latest arrival. She has come to work in the same place as Anita. The three women enjoy perks that ordinary people would not have. Working for a US agency gave Anita and Maria access to people and places no ordinary citizen could get.

Maria falls for a local prince, a sort of serious playboy who loves to live well, loves opera, plays the piccolo, and loves to eat at good restaurants. Anita has humbler expectations with Giorgio, an aspiring lawyer working at the agency as translator. Frances considers herself a spinster; she works for a writer that is well connected, but who has not written a book for quite some time.

Jean Negulesco directed the film with an eye toward the beauty of Rome. The opening sequence where one is taken all over to watch the fountains that are one of the main attractions of Rome. The screenplay is just an excuse to show the magnificence of the 'Eternal City' as it looked in those years. John Patrick adapted the novel by John Secondari with an eye for how it would play in Cinemascope.

Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters and Maggie McNamara are seen as Frances, Anita and Maria. Clifton Webb plays the writer. Louis Jourdan is the prince charming and Rossano Brazzi was the stereotypical Latin Lover that he played to perfection during his American film career.

Milton Krasner, the cinematographer, had a field day with all the beautiful natural scenery he captured for the viewer's pleasure. He even gets the opportunity to take us to Venice and to the supposedly country place near Rome where Rossano Brazzi's home was located. In reality, the location is from the Dolomite Mountains, a range in Alto Adige, a location that is quite far from the city. Victor Young's music is perfect for the background musical score.

Enjoy, and 'buon appetito'
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Formula 50's Romance Story
mdm-1120 May 2005
This typical early 1950s romance story has all of the "desk set" elements (found only in romantic dime novels): 3 American secretaries in Rome are searching for "meaning in life", hoping to find it in marriage. The desired suiters are equally "fairy tale-like", including a Prince (played by Frenchman Louis Jourdan), a handsome full-blooded Italian (epitemized by Rossano Brazzi) and a distinguished Englishman (played by Clifton Webb).

Old fashioned values are running rampant in this film. A "working girl" planning to marry was expected to leave her job to tend to full-time housework. Dating was a "no-no", branding a woman a "bad girl". Double-standards across the board. It definitely was a "man's world".

The romantic theme song popularized by the Four Aces endured as a favorite for nearly 50 years. Unfortunately the film itself has lost its mass appeal over time. Although similar in broad subject matter, films like the Tracy/Hepburn classic "Desk Set" or the hilarious "How To Marry A Millionaire" starring the trio Monroe/Grable/Bacall have maintained their cult status as true Hollywood Classics. "Three Coins In The Fouintain" is a mildly pleasant trip into post-WWII Italy, a time of simplicity amidst toil and poverty. Those who dream of "marrying a prince" may have their fill.
13 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Corny and escapist
roger-13416 September 2001
A good movie if you want something safe and easy with no violence or anything else to remind you that it's a nasty world out there!

The plot is silly, and manages to insult both sexes, although of the two it is the females, or rather "girls", who come off looking the more pathetic.

Nonetheless, there were many moments when my wife and I guffawed with laughter, although most of the laughs were at the silly 50's cliches and not necessarily at the plot twists, although there were some good one-liners.
9 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
There''s No Place Like Rome
Rob-12011 March 2013
"Three Coins in the Fountain" is a typical 1950's "Women's Picture." Back then, Hollywood studio executives were sure that the only thing a woman ever wanted to do with her life was find a husband and get married.

Today, this film would be called a "chick flick." Modern feminists will probably hate it, because the three female leads seem to have marriage on their minds...and not much else.

In the movie, three secretaries share an apartment at the "Villa Eden" in Rome. It's one of those overly-spacious apartments that looks like it was decorated by a Hollywood set designer. How can they afford such a luxurious apartment? "Oh, the rate of exchange in Rome is very favorable for Americans." Uh huh.

Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire) has been serving as secretary for John Frederick Shandwell (Clifton Webb), a snooty American writer, who has been living in Rome for the past 15 years. (As other reviewers have pointed out, this skips over the fact that they would have been living in Rome before and during World War II, an event that nobody ever mentions in the film.) He proposes marriage to her on the day before his doctor tells him he has only a year to live.

Frances' roommates, Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters) and Maria Willaims (Maggie McNamara), are working as secretaries at the United States Distribution Agency, one of those Hollywood "government agencies" with an eagle emblem on the door. Anita is about to return to America, because she can't find a man to marry in Rome. But then she finds love with Giorgio Binachi (Rossano Brassi), an Italian translator who works at the USDA. Unfortunately, Giorgio is immediately fired from his job for violating the USDA's policy against employees dating other employees, set in place by Mr. Burgoyne (Howard St. John), the doofus boss who runs the agency.

Meanwhile, Maria decides to ensnare Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jourdan), an Italian prince known as "the predatory prince." Maria pretends to like all the things the prince likes (Italian opera, playing the piccolo), to trick him into marrying her, but of course, she falls in love with him instead.

The movie's major strength is its outstanding cinematography, featuring beautiful views of Rome and Venice. But the story itself is dated and trite. The point of throwing "three coins in the fountain" is to ensure that you'll return to Rome. I don't think I'll return to *this* Rome.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
beautiful scenes
rebeljenn9 July 2006
'Three Coins in the Fountain' is a film about three American secretaries that throw their coins into a fountain in Rome and hope for romance. The music in the film and in the opening scenes is sung by Frank Sinatra. The film has a good story that holds the interest; pacing and the editing between the three stories of the girls and their romances are done well. Another excellent feature of this film is the photography. The opening sequence with the fountains in Rome and Frank Sinatra's music is beautiful. There are other beautiful scenes in the film of the Italian countryside and Venice. In summary, this is an old-fashioned romantic film that displays how three women find love and the lengths that they will go to be in love.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Has lost none of its appeal!
JohnHowardReid23 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Producer: Sol C. Siegel. Copyright 20 May 1954 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation. New York opening at the Roxy: 20 May 1954. U.S. release: 20 May 1954. U.K. release: September 1954. London opening at the Carlton. Australian release: 23 December 1954. Sydney opening at the Regent. 9,156 feet. 102 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Three American office girls find love while working in Rome.

NOTES: Negulesco re-made the movie in 1964 as "The Pleasure Seekers", starring Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, Pamela Tiffin, Gene Tierney and Tony Franciosa.

Number ten in the annual survey of American film critics conducted by "The Film Daily".

Second only to "The Robe" as Fox's top money-maker of the 1953-54 season. Initial domestic gross exceeded $10 million.

COMMENT: It's good news when critics and moviegoers all agree. "Three Coins in the Fountain" is a most delightful film. Former painter, Jean Negulesco, rates as one of the few directors who instinctively knew how to crowd the CinemaScope screen artistically, yet with dramatic effectiveness. Negulesco and Krasner really fill up their whole canvas with dazzling views. The Italian countryside, plus a quick diversion to Venice, are seen to advantage, as well, of course, as Rome itself. There's even a short but ingratiating travelogue sequence preceding the main titles. And as for the titles themselves, their charm is enlivened by the voice-over of Frank Sinatra singing the haunting title tune.

Although top-billed, Clifton Webb does not have the largest role, but is nonetheless handed some wonderfully waspish lines by screenwriter John Patrick: "Punctuality is the vice of virtuous women." (Patrick has also expertly papered over one or two plot holes stemming from the original novel).

Most of the action centers on Maggie McNamara, here slightly unsure of herself (or perhaps miscast) despite her smash success in "The Moon Is Blue". Fortunately, the other players, led by charismatic Jean Peters, warm-hearted Dorothy McGuire, robust Rossano Brazzi and charming Louis Jourdan, more than take up the slack.

A terrific crowd-pleaser in its time, "Three Coins in the Fountain" has lost none of its appeal today.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Som of Rome's fountains in all their glory
SimonJack16 March 2017
"Three Coins in the Fountain" is a romantic film of 1954 that especially appealed to young women (and some men) who dreamed about love matches in the romantic 1950s. Today, it might be called a chick flick by the would-be macho set. It's based on a 1952 novel by John Sedondari, "Coins in the Fountain." He was a Rome-born writer, producer and director who also co-wrote the screenplay for this film. The movie is a light comedy and drama, and is about three American women working in Rome, each of whom seems spurned or ignored at first but then finds "true" love.

The film has a fine cast, and the story is so-so. The movie also spurned a hit song by the same title, sung by Frank Sinatra in the film. It won the Academy Award for best original song. Julie Styne wrote the music and Sammy Cahn the lyrics. The Four Aces turned it into a number one hit on the 1954 U.S. pop chart. Several other recordings were made after that.

While the story is okay, a big plus for the film is its cinematography and scenic shots of and around Rome. The best of these are scenes of some of the many glorious fountains of the eternal city. The granddaddy of them all, the Trevi Fountain, is center stage for the opening and closing.

One interesting aspect of the story is with the lead male and female characters. Clifton Webb plays John Shadwell, an expatriate American who has lived in Rome most of his adult life. Dorothy McGuire plays Miss Frances, his secretary for the past 15 years. That means that she was in Rome since 1939, and the two of them lived through World War II. That would have included the early years when Benito Mussolini's Italy was allied with Nazi Germany, and the later German occupation of Rome. I don't know how Sedondari treated that in his novel, but it seems strange that there's not a hint of the war having just been over less than nine years, or of Miss Frances having been there during that time. It seems that Anita (Jean Peters) and Maria (Maggie McNamara) would have asked Frances about that at some point.

A funny line by Shadwell stands out. He says to Prince Dino di Cessi (played by Louis Jordan), "These girls in love never realize they should be honestly dishonest instead of being dishonestly honest.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A mundane piece of fluff
vic2270310 August 2004
The film, while not being a total waste of time, provides very little interesting entertainment. The film follows three women on their hunt for husbands in Rome. The photography of Italy is gorgeous, of course, but the plot is trivial. The story lines of the two older women are considerably more interesting than the youngest of the three, who follows a prince (Louis Jordan).

As an audience, we know little the personalities of the characters other than what is revealed during their courtships. I know that it's hard to expect an illuminating portrait of women in a 1950's romantic comedy but it's hard to forget the sly comedy of Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, or the allure of Marilyn Monroe's talent in ....well, any of her films.

Overall, if you want to watch something wistful and entertaining, watch Louis Jordan's other film, Gigi, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Grande Dame of a Genre
TJBNYC10 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953) set the template--get three beautiful gals, throw 'em together in one impossibly huge apartment, and let the husband-hunting begin! But dated as "Millionaire" is today, it benefits from good casting, a reasonably witty script and solid comic performances. Its direct descendant, "Three Coins in the Fountain," camped the story up, and began a whole sub-genre of trashy flicks: Three Gals Lookin' for Love!

You know what you're in for as soon as Frank Sinatra, the studio orchestra, and a chorus of thousands begin blasting the swoony theme song, as the CinemaScope camera pans on countless smoochin' couples all around Rome.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS...The three girls in question are Dorothy McGuire (the sensible spinster), Jean Peters (the working girl), and Maggie McNamara (the perky one). Actually, only Maggie technically qualifies as a "girl," but this is 1954, and all women were "girls," doncha know. The ridiculous plot has each of them meeting their future hubbies in various picturesque settings; the weirdest and creepiest union has to be McGuire and ancient, effete Clifton Webb. That's one honeymoon that I wouldn't want to be privy to.

Considerably more eye-catching are Peters' and McNamara's beaux, the hunky Rosanno Brazzi and impossibly beautiful Louis Jourdan. Actually, these two slabs of Franco-Italo beefcake are better looking than the rather pedestrian female cast, and kinda make you wish that Peters and McNamara had been replaced by, say, John Gavin and Jeffrey Hunter. But I digress--

Anyway, a few melodramatic turns are provided by the fact that Webb is suffering from some Fatal Movie Disease, and Peters and Brazzi become persona non grata at the office they work at because of their lustful union. But all's well that ends well, and like every single women, er, GIRL, wanted in 1954, all three wind up married. This despite the fact that two gals will almost certainly wind up divorcees, and one will be a widow in what looks to be about 6 months at most. But hey--you wanted a happy, marriage-minded, 1954 ending, right?
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Oscar nominated for BEST FILM
andyevel617 November 2007
Forget about being an intellectual(though this picture certainly offers some surprising intelligent lines in its dialog). Just enjoy the film! It is very well done. The reason "Three Coins" was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar(as opposed to similar films like "How to Marry a Millionaire") is because of its cinematography, careful direction, fine acting, and the fact that it was adapted from a successful novel by John Secondari and the screenplay was smartly written by John Patrick, a Pulitzer Prize Winner. The cinematography (by Milton Krasner) won an Oscar, and so did the title song. It was the first in Cinemascope produced almost entirely on location and one of the ten most successful films of the 50s decade, so if you watch it, do it just for the fun of it and enjoy the beauty of its setting, eternal Rome. "Three Coins" is certainly a better movie than "Millionaire" and all those films with similar topics that were made during the 50s and 60s. Out of all the players, as it is signaled out in the DVD's special features, the gorgeous Jean Peters had the highest box office draw. She was a top star at the time (why she was billed third in the cast is a puzzlement). Her story is the most daring in sexual content (for the era). It is the most interesting, too, and carries the best performances. Female audiences became aware of Rossano Brazi in this film, and he was later selected as one of the ten "handsomest" leading men of the decade. Peters married Howard Hughes two years after this picture was released and retired from movies in the heat of stardom and fame. As a producer noted, "Jean Peters had a lot of fire which she kept hidden inside." It's a shame Fox never gave her the chance to show us her acting talent on a bigger scale. Clifton Webb could deliver lines. He wasn't a handsome actor, but he and Dotty MacGuire have some great and very funny scenes in this film. Although Jordan and MacNamara have to tackle the least believable roles, their story has a very funny premise (the American girl doing her best to charm a bachelor Italian prince by pretending to enjoy everything he likes), and it becomes credible thanks to their acting efforts. If you enjoy romance, having fun, traveling through Italy and seeing some outstanding players at work, you must see this film.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
balsa wood romance
onepotato222 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Three Coins in the Fountain is the standard location shoot from the fifties. We get expensive, widescreen photography (Italy - very nice), but the minute we enter an interior (or a character gets in a car) we're in an artificial world of soundstages. This becomes the defacto formula for 50s travelogue/dramas. The movie itself would fall under the heading "chick flick," a term of assignation, for a genre that generally offers only sisterhood beset by minor conflicts; and women either short-changing their own lives and development for a man (the 50s), or defining themselves via quasi-rejecting some social norm (the 80s forward). To be sure, there are chick flicks that can be enjoyed by general audiences (Terms of Endearment) but the term is characteristically used to deservedly dismiss trifling story lines like this one.

Three women are explained to be in Italy for various reasons, and become room-mates. As the time demands, they're absurd, but true period types who use the steno-pool to travel, have an income, and find eligible bachelors whom they agree never to compete with; women whose truncated education (and society's glass ceiling) insure that they can't. Additionally, improbably, they live like queens.

The movies wide-screen compositions are handsome but the story is off the low end of the scale for inconsequence. The script writers can't be bothered to spare four lines to introduce the piece's major conflict. Here a stenographer is such a dense bimbo that she a) inexplicably reveals a roommates transgressions to her boss, and b) forgets to inform her, causing job loss for her boyfriend and embarrassment for the room-mate. It's just too darned hard for this pretty thing to understand that she's both been outmaneuvered, AND done something very unethical, even within the terms of the movie. The movie notes none of this. The same character has an unexplored conflict in her desire to win a guy, but to also reap benefits (travel, etc.) from delaying or denying the onset of his romantic or sexual interest. The movie is a bewildering gender-power study.
10 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed