Warren Beatty

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone 1961Karen Stone (Vivien Leigh) is not going through an easy time in her life. Her illustrious stage career seems to be drawing to a close now that she’s nearing the age of 50 and her husband recently passed away, so she’s feeling quite lost in life. She decides to bow out of the spotlight and spend some time in Rome. While there, she meets Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales (Lotte Lenya), who makes a living by pimping out her band of young gigolos to rich women. Naturally, Karen is precisely the type of woman she wants to target so she introduces Karen to Paolo (Warren Beatty).

Although Karen has her reservations at first, she slowly starts to become infatuated with Paolo and the feeling is mutual. Karen is happy with Paolo, but she’s afraid of what her friends would think. However, unlike the other types of women the Countess usually deals with, Karen prefers to lavish Paolo with expensive gifts like new clothes and fancy dinners instead of giving them cold hard cash. The Countess has an arrangement with all of her gigolos that she gets half of everything they get so the Countess isn’t getting anything out of those dinners in nice restaurants.

Realizing Paolo’s feelings for Karen, and of Karen’s fragile mental state, the Countess tries to direct him toward a much younger American actress, Barbara Bingham (Jill St. John), who is more likely to be profitable for her. She knows that Paolo having an affair with Barbara would absolutely destroy Karen.

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone had the potential to be a really interesting film, but unfortunately, it missed the mark. Both Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty have made much better films. The movie is only about an hour and forty-five minutes long, but it felt like it was longer than that. I kept looking at the clock to find out how much longer I had to listen to Warren Beatty’s terrible Italian accent for. That accent and wearing copious amounts of self-tanner are pretty much Warren Beatty’s two big acting choices for this role. Vivien does a good job with her role and if I were to come up with my own reworking of the film to make it more interesting, I’d probably keep her in it. But oh, dear, I don’t think I could have listened to Beatty’s accent for any longer. I’m usually into movies that feature some beautiful Italian scenery, but that wasn’t even enough to keep me even remotely interested.

All Fall Down (1962)

Sixteen-year-old Clint Willart (Brandon De Wilde) wants to be just like his older brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty).  Berry got out of his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and now spends his days roaming from city to city and picking up lots of women along the way.  When Clint arrives in Florida to give Berry some money he needs, he quickly realizes the locals don’t hold Berry in the same high regard.  In fact, Berry has a reputation for beating up women and is in jail for assaulting a prostitute.  Clint bails him out and is disappointed to be sent back home almost immediately rather than getting to spend much time with Berry.

Clint comes back to Cleveland feeling completely disillusioned.  His parents, Annabell (Angela Lansbury) and Ralph (Karl Malden), are dying to find out what Berry has been up to, but Clint doesn’t even want to talk about it.  We soon find out Clint is the only well-adjusted person in his family; Annabell is overbearing and Ralph is a drunk.  But Clint’s life gets a little bit brighter when Annabell invites her friend’s daughter Echo O’Brien (Eva Marie Saint) to stay with them.  Echo is thirty-one and has never been married, but Clint is infatuated with her.

When Christmas rolls around, Berry decides to pay a visit to Cleveland.  His parents are thrilled to have him back, but it turns out Echo is the happiest to see him.  When she meets the infamous Berry, they hit it off right away and begin a relationship.  She loves him and he wants to love her back.  Berry even manages to stay out of trouble for a while because of her.  But when he finds out she’s pregnant, it brings his violent tendencies back to the surface.  He leaves her and she commits suicide.  Clint wants to kill Berry for what he’s done to Echo, but when he sees Berry in a moment of weakness, he realizes Berry ought to be pitied more than anything.  He’ll never be like Berry, but he realizes he’s dodged a bullet.

All Fall Down is so very close to being a great movie.  The cast is amazing and there are some excellent performances to be seen here.  It features some beautiful cinematography by Lionel Lindon.  This was one of the first films directed by John Frankenheimer and he proves to be a very capable director.

The only thing stopping it from being a great film is its occasionally flimsy writing. Right from the beginning of the movie, we see how Clint adores Berry, but I don’t know exactly what Clint sees in him.  I completely understand how a teenager would romanticize the kind of freedom Berry has, but I’m not sure how he would have been so completely oblivious to this sinister side of his own brother.  In the beginning, Clint says that Berry isn’t a bad guy, so I’m curious as to what made him likeable in the first place because the Berry we see in the movie isn’t likeable at all.

Despite my issues with the writing, I still enjoyed All Fall Down.  The quality of the performances definitely helped carry the movie through its weaker moments.  It’s just too bad to see a movie be great on so many levels but not quite reach its full potential.

What’s on TCM: August 2010

It’s August, and that can only mean one thing: Summer Under the Stars!  Like 31 Days of Oscar, Summer Under the Stars never disappoints and I’m definitely excited for this year’s schedule.  There are plenty of days dedicated to showcasing some SUTS mainstays like Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Henry Fonda.  But this year they’re really mixing things up and spending nearly half the month focusing on people who have never been part of SUTS before, including John Gilbert, Ethel Barrymore, and Gene Tierney.  Not only are there lots of stars who are new to SUTS, there are also tons of movies being premiered this month.  I counted a grand total of 54 TCM premieres in August, 19 of which are on Thelma Todd day alone.

Here is a complete list of the stars featured this month.  To get the complete schedule, you can download a copy here.