Rome Adventure

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Rome Adventure
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Delmer Daves
Screenplay by Delmer Daves
Based on Lovers Must Learn
by Irving Fineman
Starring Troy Donahue
Angie Dickinson
Rossano Brazzi
Suzanne Pleshette
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Charles Lawton
Edited by William H. Ziegler
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • March 5, 1962 (1962-03-05) (United States)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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.


New England librarian Prudence Bell (Suzanne Pleshette) recommended a book, Lovers Must Learn, to one of her students. After defending herself and the book, she resigns telling the school board she's going to Rome where she will encounter people who really know the meaning of love. Sailing from New York she picks the wrong man as a protective consort, providing two potential romantic interests. Albert Stillwell, a student of Etruscan history is a perfect gentleman, while Roberto Orlandi (Rossano Brazzi) is the perfect mature Roman lover.

In Rome, Prudence checks into her boarding house and meets a self-centered American architect, Don Porter (Troy Donahue) whose former lover is the manipulative Lyda Kent (Angie Dickinson). Prudence lands a job at The American Book Shop near one of Rome's famous fountains,working for Constance Ford and her sheepdog.

Don is a confidant of Roberto and discusses his troubled relationship with Lyda, an artist staying in Italy with financial support from her wealthy father. Before Lyda leaves, Don confronts her on a train, but she is unmovable, finally saying she may return to Italy later. Coincidentally, Lyda leaves for Switzerland just hours after Prudence arrives at the villa (boarding house) in Rome where she and Porter reside.

While in Switzerland, Lyda meets a wealthy older man in exile there. Mr. Barkely asked Lyda to accompany him on his yacht to "paint his portrait". Lyda soon loses interest in this romance and returned to Italy, followed by a spy on Barkley's payroll.

Meanwhile, Prudence runs into Don at an outdoor cafe near the American Bookshop. Prudence cheers Don up with her fresh perspective on the beauty of the Roman square, and they go sightseeing around Rome in horse-drawn carriages and his Vespa scooter. While at lunch late in the afternoon overlooking Rome, Don buys a candelabra from a peddler, a symbol of Don's integrity because the candelabra appears to be pure gold.

At dinner, Emilio Pericoli sings "Al Di Là" (a song that reached number 6 after the movie's release in 1962). They find themselves holding hands and cuddling during the performance, then meet a musician (played by trumpeter Al Hirt) who Don knows, who invites them to a jazz joint for a late evening performance, at the end of which Al Hirt and a patron get into a fistfight over a beautiful woman. Don and Prudence leave in a horse-drawn carriage and kiss in the darkness, arriving home at 3 AM.

The bookstore closes for summer holidays, and Don and Prudence leave on a bus tour, where Prudence grows closer to Don as she understands his passion to become an architect. They continue on by themselves to Lago Maggiore for a tour of the garden spots of northern Italy, the Italian Alps with "Al Di Là" playing over the chairlift speakers, and Verona with its Romeo and Juliet balcony. At the market place, Prudence coincidentally runs into Albert and his mother, and is concerned that this woman will report to her mother back in the U.S. that she is no longer on the bus tour, but on a romantic trip with Don. Prudence quickly excuses herself, telling Albert and his mother that she must leave, and fleeing with Don out of the market then and on a night train to Rome.

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 watches. Although Don knows he has to break off his relationship with her, Lyda meets Prudence in Don's room back at the boarding house and Lyda invites Prudence and Albert to dinner at her studio.

Not hearing from Don for three days, Prudence decides to move on, and become a sophisticated woman during the remaining time in Italy. 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. When Prudence comes downstairs to be a student of Roberto's seduction "lessons", Roberto plays along, then stops the action, confessing that Don had stayed with him for the previous three days to think things through. Don had decided that he loved Prudence, but then he received an urgent telegram to rescue Lyda. Don is summoned to a fancy hotel where Lyda confesses she has married a possessive rich older man, Bentley, and needs Don to free her from her palatial prison. Don realizes that Lyda is just using him, that she does not love him or even care about him. Don heads back to Rome. Convinced that Don wants to be with Lyda, Prudence plans to return to the States, with a chaotic good-bye in the train station from all the friends she has made 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.

Sailing back to New York City, Prudence sees her parents from the ship's rail and begins to disembark. Then she sees a candelabra and roses weaving their way through the crowd, behind her parents, and it is Don. They embrace as Don tells her of his love and asks her to marry him.



Lovers Must Learn was published in 1932. The New York Times called it a "workmanlike production".[1] Unlike the film, the novel was set in Paris.

Delmer Daves purchased the rights to the novel in 1957 and announced plans to make a film version in France, Copenhagen and Switzerland.[2][3]

Natalie Wood was at one stage announced for the lead.[4] Troy Donahue was announced for the male lead relatively early.[5] Eventually Natalie Wood dropped out and Suzanne Pleshette was signed in September 1961.[6]

The film was known during production as Lovers Must Learn.[7] Donahue and Pleshette fell in love while filming.[8]

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.


  1. "Rome Adventure"
  2. "Lovers Must Learn"
  3. "Tarantella"
  4. "Al Di La"
  5. "Serenade"
  6. "Prudence"
  7. "Rome Adeventure"
  8. "Oh Marie"
  9. "Mattinata"
  10. "Arrivederci Roma"
  11. "Come Back to Sorrento"
  12. "Santa Lucia"
  13. "Volare"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Americans in Paris: LOVERB MUST LEARN. By Irving Fineman. 362 pp. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. $2. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Apr 1932: BR14.
  2. ^ Parent Role Sinatra Bet: Widmark Buys New Film Story; Daves Plans Picture Abroad Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Dec 1957: A13.
  3. ^ DREISER'S 'TITAN' TO BECOME MOVIE: Novel Will Be Filmed Jointly by 2 Concerns--Return of Andy Hardy Weighed Mickey Rooney's Plans Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Dec 1957: 35.
  4. ^ Quine May Land Kim Novak Yet Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 26 June 1961: B18.
  5. ^ Export of Daring French Film OK'd: Nat Cole Mines 'Diamonds'; MGM signs Barbara Baxley Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Aug 1961: C11.
  6. ^ Tina Louise Signed Sas 'Restless Woman' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Sep 1961: A7.
  7. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Yul Brynner Will Do 'Big Charlie' in India Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 18 Aug 1961: b10.
  8. ^ Dim Lights Do Wild Rumors Make Dorothy Kilgallen:. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 16 Oct 1961: A23.

External links[edit]