August 28, 2009

3 Coins in the Fountain (1954)

My Ratings:
Production Design (wardrobe/hair+makeup & set design & milieu) = 8
Performances/Direction = 6.5

3 Coins in the Fountain is about the (love) lives of three American secretaries working abroad in Rome, Italy. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar but won for Best Cinematography and Best Original Song. The title is derived from the notion that if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, it will ensure that someday you'll return to Rome.

Here they are, the three woman, throwing the coins.

At a cocktail party. It's really difficult to see but the last dress (far right) has fantastic criss-crossing at the waist.

So let's look at each of these secretaries individually. First we begin with "Maria" (Maggie McNamara) who is the youngest of the three and the newest arrival. She gets involved with a playboy Prince (Louis Jourdan who later went on to star in Gigi (1958)).

(left) I like how the white blouse underneath is tightly wrapped at the waist using the same fabric. A nice substitute for a belt.

Cute white blouse with nice Sgt. Pepper-ish detail in the front.

LOVE the sleeve on this dress! Notice how it gathers and the button detail.

Hmm...this dress is a bit too marmish. But she was meeting the mother of her Prince boyfriend so maybe it was appropriate for the occasion.

(left) Love this robe! Love how the tie (rope? belt?) wraps around several times at the waist and then ties in the back.

At the opera. Gorgeous orange chiffon wrap.

A view of the lime colored dress she had on underneath.

Now we move onto "Anita" (Jean Peters) who was seen out on a date with an Italian coworker (Rossano Brazzi whom we also saw in Summertime). He gets fired because in-office dating was not allowed and she gets really upset because now they can't afford to get married.

Love this beautiful yellow satin dress with white polka dots. Not exactly appropriate for a casual picnic but so what!

Here's a better view of the orange belt, which is also made out of fabric and matches her orange cardigan. I think the dress just goes so well with her hair and skin tone, doesn't it?

(left) Here's Anita in another beautiful dress. I love the green color and notice the button details on the shoulder!

A better view of her green dress.

(right) Here's a better view of the sleeves on the blouse that we saw earlier at the cocktail party.

And finally we move onto "Frances" (Dorothy McGuire) who was my favorite out of all three because she's the one I can relate to the most personality-wise. She's the level-headed, mature one and had been in Rome for 15 years working as the secretary for a distinguished writer. She is secretly in love with him but he's too preoccupied with his work to notice. She's also considered "the old maid" even though she's only in her mid-30s.

This may seem like a boring dress but I really like it. Notice the trim on the collar and sleeves.

A better view of the detail in the sleeves. I just love this. It also satisfies my mild obsession with safari-esque clothing.

Here is another beige dress made out of jersey (I think). The material is very soft and body-hugging but it fits her perfectly.

Also, did you notice the thin white stripes? Also, that's Clifton Webb to the right.

(left) That silk tan dress with the frontal pleats looks almost identical to something I own. Sorry, there's wasn't a full-length shot of it. I also LOVE her multi-stranded pearl necklace with two different colored pearls - one blue to match her sequined hat and another that's tan to match her dress!

In her long, flowy nightgown. I wish this was what I wore to bed everynight...and not those pajama pants with Winnie the Pooh characters...oops, revealing too much. But they're classic Pooh so at least that's more commendable than the later, modern version.

(far right) And lastly, we have Frances in a beautiful blue satin dress with white polka dots. Notice how the belt is again made out of the same fabric! I am really loving this concept.

Now, here are two other women that I wanted to highlight. Both are elderly woman and we rarely see well-dressed "women of age" anymore. Even though I'm still in my 20s, I love to collect images of fabulous older women for inspiration. It gives me something to look forward to as I get older.

Below is "La Principessa," the mother of the Prince whom Maria was dating. Her pale blue chiffon gown is simply gorgeous. I like the gathering at the bust and I like how she wears it with a black lace shawl.

Here's a view of the long bell sleeve. The dress reminds me of something out of a fairy tale.

(left) Below is the wife of the executive in charge of the secretarial firm which employs the three main characters mentioned above. I really like this dress for the gathering at the collar.

And here she is at the opera. A very beautiful black sleeveless evening gown with a turquoise lace bodice worn also with a sheer black wrap. Very elegant and sexy and surprisingly age appropriate!

And lastly, 2 measly images for my interior design readers (so sorry I've been neglecting you lately!). Here an interior shot of the writer's residence. I love the use of broken pediments over door frames indoors and notice the marble wall paneling! (well, they're supposed to be marble, not sure if they really where...). Also notice how they made use of the tiny area between the arch and the wall (left) by painting it and adding an ornate pattern.


Love all the lamps with chinoiserie patterns on them. Also that lamp (far left) intrigues me. It juxtaposes the traditional (frilly lampshade covered in green lace) with the modern (spiral metal pipe/base). Interesting...


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Oh Man, I hate this film. I mean, it's pretty, but I found it hilariously bad, especially in its portrayal of women. I guess that's what you get in cheesy 1950s movies sometimes. Did you know they remade this with Ann-Margret in the 1960s? It's a semi-musical and unbelievably, outstandingly ridiculous. It's called "The Pleasure Seekers."

What I remember most about this movie (and dislike) is that the "old maid" gets matched up with the older man of highly suspicious sexuality.

I mean, do you really think it was on-the-level for a man to wear a tie like that even then? It seemed like such a telling affectation even for a writer.

Hahaha. I totally agree. I thought it was horrible too because all it did was portray women hoping to nab themselves a man. But I always post films that I don't like simply for their visual appeal.

Issapacey - Oh, i KNOW. Matching up the "old maid" with that old man/writer was sooo suspect!

Frances: "A marriage based on friendship? And suppose you should wake up one bright morning and discover that I was desperately in love with you? Wouldn't you find that disturbing?"

Writer/Man: "The possibility of arousing unsuspected passion at my age would not only be disturbing but rather miraculous."

Haha! And he wasn't even that old! She was mid-30s and he was late 40s/early 50s! I definitely got the impression that he was gay or asexual. Or maybe he was just being "British." :-P

It is hard to imagine that this was actually up for a best picture, but that is mainly because of the mores portrayed which we all find so objectionable these days.
Still, it's the clothes and interiors we care about right? Thanks for posting on it -- you noticed some details I missed on the clothes! But really it was the interior shots I liked the most -- the contrast between the lush Italian residences and the uptight midcentury modern offices is what really interested me!
In any case, thanks again for posting about this

Norine - I was not inspired by the midcentury modern offices at all - haha - which is why I didn't post any images of them. I'm not a fan of the furniture from that era, with the exception of my zest for retro diner-esque chairs. :-)

Well, after all, Clifton Webb WAS gay...I think it was impossible for him to butch it up! The sexual politics may have been highly suspect, but its a gorgeous looking film at least.

New to your site, and I have to agree that a lot of classic films have more value in production design than in their writing. While others have a premise that seems potentially silly and predictable, then surprise and impress you such as "Roman Holiday" or "A Letter to Three Wives."
As to your interior decor images in this post, if the marble inlay is painted that doesn't make it any less authentically Italian. The Romans were the first masters of trompe l'oiel interior decoration, and painted on textural patterns such as faux marble and even precious stones were very common in the homes of the wealthy merchant class who wanted to imitate the elite.

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