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.


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