(1954)3Mike CummingsThree Coins in the Fountain is good melodrama thanks in large part to the film's Oscar-winning music and cinematography on the one hand and its shallow script on the other. Watching it confers on the viewer the same benefit as a noonday nap: pleasant oblivion. Frank Sinatra sings the title song, a winner that made Rome's Trevi Fountain -- into which visitors toss a coin to assure their eventual return to Rome -- one of the world's most famous landmarks. The story focuses on three American secretaries who fall in love in a Panglossian world in which nothing goes wrong, even when one of the beaus has six months to live. Audiences of the 1950s lapped it up, enabling them to escape their bomb shelters, McCarthy, and memories of World War II. The actors, who cheerfully recite their innocuous lines, include Maggie McNamara, Jean Peters, and Dorothy McGuire as men-hunting secretaries and Louis Jourdan, Rossano Brazzi, and Clifton Webb as their willing victims. The motion picture rises above itself with its beautiful images; the Eternal City never looked better. The dialogue contains nary a double-entendre, and none of the women reveals anything more than an ankle or a bare shoulder. But the film has its charm, and its Academy Award nomination as Best Picture proved that pleasant oblivion could vie with angst (as in 1954's On the Waterfront) for the hearts of the American filmgoing public.
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