Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Delmer Daves|
|Produced by||Delmer Daves|
|Screenplay by||Delmer Daves|
|Story by||Irving Fineman|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Edited by||William H. Ziegler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||119 minutes|
Rome Adventure, also known as Lovers Must Learn, is a 1962 romantic drama film, based on the 1932 novel Lovers Must Learn by Irving Fineman. It was directed by Delmer Daves and stars Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, and Suzanne Pleshette.
A New England assistant librarian at a school, Prudence Bell (Suzanne Pleshette) has recommended a book to one of her students that has drawn the ire of the school board and she resigns one step ahead of being fired. She defends the book "Lovers Must Learn" and tells the prudish board that she's going to Rome where she will be surrounded by people who really know the meaning of love. She sails from New York to Italy and at the rail she accidentally picks the wrong man she was standing near as a protective consort. This all gets resolved via telegrams and gives us two potential romantic interests before even leaving. Albert Stillwell, a student of Etruscan history is a perfect gentlemen and scout, while Roberto Orlandi (Rossano Brazzi) is the perfect Roman lover, mature, romantic, poetic, and always interested.
Once in Rome, Prudence checks into her boarding home and meets a self-centered American architect, Don Porter (Troy Donahue) who is running away from/to the love of his life, Lyda Kent (Angie Dickinson), a controlling, manipulative bombshell of a woman tied up in her own love storms. Prudence needs a job and gets a tip during dinner that first night in Rome, an English speaking job at The American Book Shop near one of Rome's famous fountains. Bright and early the next morning she lands a perfect job with the bookstore owner, Constance Ford and her large, loud, fuzzy sheep dog. Their first meeting and friendly banter is a terrific lead into their characters and their budding friendship.
The plot thickens as Prudence takes an Italian language course on her record player which sets off a yelling match between her and Don, who isn't a bit interested in her, yet. Don is a close confidant of Roberto and has several discussions about his relationship with Lyda and its impending implosion. [Lyda was a sophisticated artist, staying in Italy with financial support from her wealthy father. Lyda had gotten on the train to Switzerland on the same day that Prudence arrived in Italy. Don entered the train to confront Lyda, and she explained that she was "Frigid Bridget", which is a nickname that Don called her on their second date, and she said it probably wouldn't change, but never say never, she may come back to Italy or to him. The real reason she broke up with him is that she was bored with him, had been using him, and did not need him anymore/at the moment at least.]
While in Switzerland, Lyda met a wealthy older man, Barkley, who had been in some trouble with the law, had been investigated by the U.S. Congress, and was in exile in Switzerland. Mr. Barkely asked Lyda to accompany him on his yacht, and "paint his portrait". There was some hanky-panky, Lyda lost interest, and returned to Italy but was followed by a man on Barkley's payroll, who was spying on her.
During this period, with Lyda absent, Prudence becomes a rebound candidate and handles Don's interest with aplomb. The two run into each other at an outdoor cafe, on the same day that Prudence had accepted her position at the American Bookshop. Prudence is in a very good mood, and cheers Don up, who had been a bit down after Lyda's departure. With her fresh perspective on the beauty of the Roman square, he enjoys her company, feels renewed with hope, and he suggests that they spend the rest of the afternoon sightseeing before she starts her new job. So, they take a trip around Rome in horse-drawn carriages, his red Vespa scooter, in a great travelogue and romantic journey. While at lunch late in the afternoon looking over the entire City of Rome, Don buys a candelabra from a peddler that serves as a symbol of Don's integrity because the candelabra looked to be pure gold. They had been just friendly neighbors getting to know each other and enjoying each other's company while they were sightseeing.
At dinner, Emilio Pericoli sings the wonderful song "Al Di Là", his Italian version that rose to number 6 following the movie's release in '62. They find themselves holding hands and sitting close together during the performance, quite a change from earlier in the afternoon when they had just been on friendly terms. Then they meet a musician (trumpeter Al Hirt) that Don knows, and they are invited to a Jazz Joint for a late evening performance. A fight ensues when the musician sees his Italian girlfriend making out with another guy, in the audience. Don and Prudence leave and ride in the horse-drawn carriage and they kiss in the darkness. They don't arrive home until 3 AM. The chaperone of the young girl staying in the boarding home, noticed a man come in at 3 AM, and immediately suspects Don when he comes to breakfast, which prompted a coy smile from Prudence.
Summer holidays, August escapes arrive, the book store closes, and Don and Prudence sneak out of town on a tour and pretend to be "Mr. and Mrs." to stay in a room together. To Prudence's dismay, there are no other rooms available. Because she is a nice girl, she insists that Don sleep on a balcony. Don honors her request, but neither of them get any sleep that night. The next few days are uneventful. They continue on their bus tour. Don explains to her that the cathedrals have a lot of paintings and sculptures to educate the people about Christ, since the people could not read the Bible. Then, Prudence really feels comfortable with Don, now that she understands Don's true passion to study architecture and become an architect. The bus tour ends and they continue on by themselves to Lago Maggiore in northern Italy for a wonderful, innocent and beautiful tour of the garden spots of northern Italy, the Italian alps with "Al Di Là" playing over the lift speakers, Verona and its famous Romeo and Juliet balcony. (Don sings a serenade to Prudence on the balcony of a mansion). At the market place, the plot thickens. Prudence runs into Albert and his mother, and because his mother knows her mother, a fellow member of the State Historical Society, she is concerned that this woman will make a report to her mother back in the U.S. Prudence conceals the fact that she is no longer on the bus tour, but on a romantic trip with Don. Prudence lies to Albert and his mother. She said that she is getting cheese for an old man on the bus and that she has to get back. She makes a mad dash with her Romeo Don out of the market and eventually back to Rome. During this period, they stay in separate rooms at a chateau, but there is plenty of making out at picnics in the fields during the day. Prudence bought a wood carving of their chateau and gives it to Don for his birthday present, so that he will always remember their vacation together. A time well spent, relationships cemented rock solid and a good time had by all.
Back in Rome, Lyda has got into more trouble and has an urgent need to see Don. She kisses Don in front of the window while the private eye on Barkley's payroll watches. Don knows he has to break off his relationship with her. Lyda and Prudence meet in Don's room back at the boarding house and Lyda invites Prudence and Albert to dinner at her studio. The visual daggers are shared as each shows the other whose territory Don Porter belongs in. Albert floats through several scenes and is always the clueless, nerdy student with just the right timing to defuse any situation, unbeknownst to him.
Prudence has not heard from Don for 3 days. She decides to move on, and become a sophisticated woman during the rest of her time in Italy. She is determined that her first lover should be someone who she likes, if it cannot be with Don. She decides to have a sexual relationship with Roberto Orlandi, the Italian man who had pursued her at the beginning of her stay in Italy. She packs an overnight bag, ready to "practice" love with him. While waiting for Prudence to change into a negligee, Roberto calls the owner of the boarding house that Don and Prudence were residing and receives news. When Prudence comes downstairs to be a student of Roberto's seduction "lessons", Roberto plays along, then stops the action before anything serious happens. Robert confesses that during the previous 3 days, Don had stayed with him in his home, to think things through. Don had decided that he loved Prudence, but then he received an urgent telegram to rescue Lyda. Because of his integrity, he felt that he must be loyal to his former girlfriend, Lyda. Don is summoned to a fancy hotel where Lyda plays cat and mouse with the fact that she has married a possessive rich older man, Bentley, and needs Don to free her from her palatial prison. Don finally comes to his senses and realizes that Lyda is just using him every time she gets into a mess, to have Don bail her out, and that she does not love him or even care about him. Don heads back to Rome. Meanwhile, Prudence is convinced that Don wants to be with Lyda and makes her plans to leave Rome and return to the States. The process turns into a chaotic good-bye scene in the train station between Prudence and all the friends she has made while in Rome. On the train, Albert asks Prudence to marry him and confesses that he had fallen in love with her since the first day they met, but she evades him while the other passengers board the train.
She sails back to New York City, and while waiting at the ship's rail, sees her parents, waves and begins to disembark. While stepping down, she sees a candelabra and roses weaving their way through the crowd and behind her family. Her heart leaps as she passes the family and slides into the arms of Don Porter her prize from her Rome Adventure.
- Troy Donahue as Don Porter
- Angie Dickinson as Lyda Kent
- Rossano Brazzi as Roberto Orlandi
- Suzanne Pleshette as Prudence Bell
- Constance Ford as Daisy Bronson
- Al Hirt as Himself
- Hampton Fancher as Albert Stillwell
- Iphigenie Castiglioni as La Contessa
- Chad Everett as Young man
- Gertrude Flynn as Mrs. Riggs
- Pamela Austin as Agnes Hutton
- Lili Valenty as Angelina
The song "Al di là" featured in the film and performed by Emilio Pericoli was originally recorded by Betty Curtis and Luciano Tajoli and winner of the 1961 edition of the Sanremo Festival, subsequently becoming Italy's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1961. The song became an international hit with a cover version by Connie Francis.
- "Rome Adventure"
- "Lovers Must Learn"
- "Al Di La"
- "Rome Adeventure"
- "Oh Marie"
- "Arrivederci Roma"
- "Come Back to Sorrento"
- "Santa Lucia"
- Rome Adventure at the Internet Movie Database
- Rome Adventure at AllMovie
- Rome Adventure at the TCM Movie Database
- Rome Adventure film trailer on YouTube
- Rome Adventure theme song on YouTube ("Al di là")