I had a feeling I would enjoy this film when it opened with scenes of Rome’s most famous fountains accompanied by the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra; and I wasn’t disappointed.
A good old-fashioned tale of romance in a foreign clime, Three Coins in the Fountain follows three American Embassy secretaries living in Rome, each in search of love. One falls for her American novelist employer; another breaks the rules and runs off with her Italian colleague; and one sets about capturing the heart of a dashing Italian prince. Given that the poster tells you who ends up with whom, I’m not going to consider my brief synopsis any more of a spoiler!
Made in 1954, its archaic attitude towards women may well outrage a staunch feminist, but I for one was able to overlook this aspect of it and enjoy it for what it is: a light-hearted fairy tale set in my favourite city, with a splendidly shot cameo from another great Italian gem, Venice.
The film was released only a year after the more famous Rome-based Hollywood offering, Roman Holiday, but unlike the film which made Audrey Hepburn famous, Three Coins has the huge advantage of being shot in colour: particularly important for capturing the beautiful blue waters of the Trevi, the fountain which gives the film its name. The streets and monuments of Rome – for some reason, improbably deserted – are portrayed in all their glory, though were not as central to the plot as I had expected and hoped based on the title.
Yes it’s twee, yes it’s predictable, and yes it’s unrealistic: but notwithstanding its shortfallings, this gentle romantic comedy was an enjoyable diversion on a gloomy Saturday afternoon and had me longing to be back in Rome and throwing yet another coin into the Trevi Fountain myself.