When in Rome
For the first 5 minutes of "Three Coins in the Fountain" it woos you with some stunning shots of glorious Italian fountains with the unmistakeable tones of Frank Sinatra singing "Three Coins in the Fountain" wafting in the air. It's unfortunate that after such a captivating start what follows ends up quite an ordinary romantic movie in fact not one ordinary romantic drama but 3 as we follow 3 American women working as secretaries in Rome, Italy. There isn't anything terrible about "Three Coins in the Fountain", in fact the romance and drama is pleasant, often amusing as well as a bit bitter sweet but it's all so unremarkable, so ordinary after such a charming start.
When Maria (Maggie McNamara) arrives in Rome to work as a secretary she hopes she will spend a year in the country and find love but is informed by one of her flat mates, Anita (Jean Peters - A Man Called Peter), that finding romance won't happen. Along with Frances (Dorothy McGuire - Swiss Family Robinson) their other flat mate they all go to a party held by their boss where Maria meets the handsome Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jourdan - Letter from an Unknown Woman) who is instantly attracted to her. Maria isn't the only luck one as Anita has an admirer in co-worker Georgio (Rossano Brazzi) and Frances secretly has feelings for her boss, writer John Shadwell (Clifton Webb). Will all 3 women enjoy romance in Rome or will it all ends up in a fountain of tears?
So ignoring the starting 5 minutes which to be honest is easily the best part of "Three Coins in the Fountain" what we basically get is 3 American women working in Rome all of which are looking for love, although some are more open than others about their desire for romance. With 3 women we basically get 3 cliche romantic stories as Frances holds romantic notions about her boss who seems oblivious to them, Anita who falls for a co-worker which is forbidden as it goes against company policy and means their romance is doomed. And then there is Maria, central to most of what is going on as she falls for the handsome Prince Dino di Cessi and sets about trying to romantically entrap him by learning all his likes and dislikes in order to seem perfect. All 3 of these romantic story lines interweave via the fact that the 3 women share an apartment but in effect are really 3 separate chapters of a story which only really come together towards the end of the movie. And whilst all these storylines are sweet and charming they are also very unoriginal and obvious even when a twist is thrown into one the outcome is still predictable.
What this ends up meaning is that the storylines to "Three Coins in the Fountain" become almost unimportant as the beautiful Italy takes centre stage. Through each of the romantic storylines we get treated to another aspect of Italy be it the romance of Venice, the glorious architecture of Rome or the quaintness of the Italian countryside. In many ways "Three Coins in the Fountain" is a perfect bit of publicity for Italy highlighting all which is great about the country. Although to be honest some of it is a bit cliche such as the whole family meal in the countryside and the easy going care free attitude. But it works and if anything "Three Coins in the Fountain" is a movie which will lead even the most sceptical of travellers to fall in love with the Italy which is portrayed.
As for the acting well it's as unremarkable as the storylines, not bad but not great either. The trio of women Frances played by Dorothy McGuire, Anita by Jean Peters and Maria played by Maggie McNamara are all attractive women with an individual facet be it bubbly, motherly or business like. But beyond being lovely and easy to fall in love with none of them make a huge impression when it comes to the acting. The men are just the same and Clifton Webb, Louis Jordan as well as Rossano Brazzi all deliver solid but unmemorable performances. It's very much a case of 6 actors playing parts but when there is a moment which requires believable chemistry it just doesn't appear.
What this all boils down to is that "Three Coins in the Fountain" is a movie which makes you fall in love with Italy and the laid back romantic life style but it is also rather forgettable. Beyond the first 5 stunning minutes the actual storyline or in fact trio of storylines are all rather ordinary as are the performances from the various actors. It's by no means a bad movie; in fact it is both sweet and charming but other than the opening 5 minutes and the stunning Italian scenery there is little which is memorable about it.