The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 28, 1961 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a hauntingly beautiful, if somewhat predictable, adaptation of the Tennessee Williams novel of the same name. Director Jose Quintero, who made his name as a stage director of Williams and Eugene O'Neill, gives the story a confining, claustrophobic feeling, despite its extensive use of gorgeous Italian outdoor locations. While this is initially effective, it grows a bit wearying and also negates the impact of the film's conclusion; by not sufficiently altering the mood during Mrs. Stone's adventure into love so that the audience can believe that perhaps things could turn out well, her desertion and desolation do not pack the wallop they should. This is not at all the fault of Vivien Leigh, who gives a stunning performance. Her Stone is a beautifully detailed, fully realized character, informed with sadness and melancholy, which makes her eventual embrace of love all the more moving. Leigh's underlying fragility has rarely been put to better use than here. Warren Beatty's performance is not so assured; while his accent is definitely problematic, the larger problem is that he doesn't seem to have fully understood the character. This is not the case with Lotte Lenya, whose Contessa is delicious, a captivating and conniving barracuda. Although it is a bit slow and occasionally smacks of artifice, Mrs. Stone is still a moving and affecting character study.