Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rome Adventure (1962): Silly, Yes. Compelling, You Bet

The approaching Summer has begun to soften my brain, resulting in this week's Movie Morlock posting over on TCM:

"Forgive me for being profound, but it's good to be alive," mumbles Troy Donahue to his date, Suzanne Pleshette, as Italian singer Emilio Pericoli warbles the reverberating "Al-Di-La," in Rome Adventure (1962-Delmer Daves).

Well, forgive me for being a goof, but this girl's fancy, (and questionable taste) finds such fare pretty irresistible as the days are getting longer and Spring melts into Summer. Besides, this movie, filmed in Roma, Firenze, and Lago Maggiore is a cheap, vicarious way of visiting Italy without having to stand in line at the airport or mispronouncing this beautiful language myself. The fact that it also features two actresses I've always loved--Suzanne Pleshette and Constance Ford--was icing on this Italian ciambella.

I have an admitted weakness for director Delmer Daves' movies in any season; from the powerful Pride of the Marines (1945), to several fine westerns, including Broken Arrow (1950) and The Hanging Tree (1959). Daves' late career splash making embarrassingly enjoyable sudsers such as A Summer Place (1959) and Susan Slade, (1960), catering to the emerging youth market, became highly successful velvet traps for the aging filmmaker. While his later movies have often been sneered at by critics who feel superior to the hapless characters trying to cope with their emotional, social and sexual contradictions, the lives they depicted weren't always too far from the mark, reflecting the turmoil that was roiling beneath the surface of society in the '50s and early '60s, that led to the youth movement as well as the women's movement.
Delmer Daves

Regardless of the subject matter, that devil Mr. Daves knew how to ring my Pavlovian bells on screen, making me care about John Garfield's fate as a Marine, Maria Schell's likelihood of survival in a raw wilderness, and wondering whether any heavy-breathing characters would ever find happiness living in a fabulous, mid-century modern house by the sea. In the process, Daves usually drew good performances from even the most inexpressive actors (such as Troy Donahue), and made films with compensatory production values to make up for some of those later scripts' shortcomings...more on the TCM Movie Morlocks


If you are as foolish as the author about "Bad Movies You Love" please feel free to view more entries in this series of blog postings here.


Rick29 said...

Moira, how fun to see this post! I enjoy all of the Delmer Daves-Troy Donahue films. My faves are PARRISH, A SUMMER PLACE, and SUSAN SLADE...but ROME ADVENTURE is still a pleasant lark of a movie and the scenery is smashing.

Moira Finnie said...

Hey, Rick,
I'm glad that you admit to enjoying this slightly guilty pleasure too.
I feel as though I've come late to the party on these later Delmer Daves' movies. I had only seen "A Summer Place" before catching up with "Susan Slade" last year and now "Rome Adventure."

I think I'm going to have to see "Parrish" now, even though I realize that this probably means sayonara to more brain cells. There certainly was lots of emotion roiling beneath the surface in the late '50s and early '60s, eh?

Btw, it recently occurred to me that Suzanne Pleshette bears a passing resemblance to Kay Francis, who was Mr. Daves' girl for some time in the '30s. Maybe that's one reason why the actress was photographed so lovingly in this movie?

VP81955 said...

Did you know that Delmer Daves and Carole Lombard were once neighbors? Check the 1920 census and you'll find that the Daves family lived right down the street (Harvard Boulevard, I believe) from the Peters family when Jane Alice Peters (the future Carole) was a pre-teen. They knew each other as adults -- I've seen photos of the two at parties -- and it's unfortunate that he never got to direct her.

Moira Finnie said...

I'm not surprised that they were neighbors, VP, but thanks for telling me about it. I have been interested in those census entries too, especially since discovering Allan Ellenberger's book "Celebrities In The 1930 Census" which you may be familiar with too. If anyone would like to read more about Allan's books they can be found at Amazon and his interesting blog, filled with esoterica large and small, can be seen here:

All the best,


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