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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An ageing starlet is off to vacation in Rome with her husband when he suffers a fatal heart attack on the plane. Mrs. Stone stays in Rome where she leases a magnificent apartment with a view of the seven hills from the terrace. Soon, a contessa comes calling and introduces Mrs. Stone and a young man named Paola. A wary Mrs. Stone ultimately succumbs to Paolo's charms.

DVD Features:
Featurette:? New Featurette Mrs. Stone: Looking for Love in All the Dark Corners

Vivien Leigh, so stirringly memorable as Blanche in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, stars in this 1961 adaptation of Williams's only novella, giving a nuanced, slightly neurotic performance that is haunting and all the more tragic by its being one of the actress's last performances before her sad death at age 53. Leigh plays Karen Stone, a 50-ish theater actress whose comeback vehicle never gets off the ground; en route to Rome for a brief escape, she's devastated by the sudden death of her beloved husband. She decides to stay in Rome, and there, her loneliness takes root against the spectacular backdrop of the city. Lotte Lenya plays a viperous contessa who pimps young men to older rich ladies, and introduces the handsome Paolo (played with dissolute perfection--though his Italian accent is shaky--by Warren Beatty) to Mrs. Stone. Leigh's performance is unnervingly raw, though one wonders why a woman with a long, happy marriage and at least one very real friend (played by Coral Browne) should be doomed to such relentless loneliness--surely she and her hubby had some pals back in New York? But with Williams, you simply must go along for the ride, and the journey through the emotional dark spaces of Mrs. Stone's life is gripping. The location shots of the glorious, decaying beauty of Rome are fabulous, as are the costumes. Extras include a featurette, Mrs. Stone: Looking for Love in All the Dark Corners. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features

  • New featurette The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: Looking for Love in All the Dark Corners
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty, Coral Browne, Jill St. John, Jeremy Spenser
  • Directors: José Quintero
  • Writers: Gavin Lambert, Jan Read, Tennessee Williams
  • Producers: Lothar Wolff, Louis De Rochemont
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBD9TO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,218 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 2006
Format: DVD
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a film about need and seduction and the fear of being all-alone in the world. Legendary New York stage actress Karen Stone (the legendary Vivian Leigh) is unhappy with her latest performance, and is even more distraught when the play turns out to be a flop. She decides to retire from acting, telling everyone she needs a holiday to take care of her ailing husband.

However, when he dies on board a jetliner on the way to Rome, she decides to stay in the City and book herself into a lavish rooftop apartment. She wonders the streets, drifting in a haze of expensive loneliness, wondering what to do with her life now that acting is over for her. She soon falls in with the Contessa (Lotte Lenya), a female pimp, and a sharp procuress of handsome young men for forlorn wealthy old widows.

The Contessa hooks her up with the young Paolo di Leo (Warren Beatty). The sexy Paolo thinks nothing of acquiring money out of rich, older women, and with the Contessa's encouragement, he wines and dines Karen. Karen, however, isn't your typical widow. At around fifty, she's is still very beautiful, although she worries about getting older, she's obviously enamored of Paolo and she's desperate for affection, but she's determined that Paolo's need for money will not triumph her need for love.

They eventually become lovers. Karen showers gifts upon Paolo and they take a trip to Tangier. The Contessa becomes furious that Paolo isn't "cutting her fifty-fifty on the deal." Karen also doesn't heed the warnings of her friend, journalist Meg (Coral Browne) that she has "a disease" that can't be fulfilled. When Paolo begins to make the movies on younger starlet Barbara Bingham (Jill St. John), Karen begins to see Paolo for what he really is.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Classic film buff on August 12, 2010
Format: DVD
Taking on the role of Karen Stone was an act of considerable courage by Vivien Leigh; there were too many unfortunate parallels where life imitated art. Mrs. Stone loses her husband of twenty years to a fatal heart attack, Ms. Leigh was divorced from her husband of twenty years Sir Laurence Olivier shortly before she began filming, which was his choice not hers. Both were starting new lives alone, were approximately the same age in the late forties, and were worried about aging and losing their beauty, and as both were actresses, the scarcity of roles that were age appropriate. That is where the resemblance ends however; Mrs. Stone inevitably gives in to despair, but not so Vivien Leigh who would gallantly challenge and valiantly fight the cruel fates of manic depression, aging and tuberculosis that would ultimately cause her untimely death at age fifty-three.

Based on a Tennessee Williams novella, "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" is the story of a renowned middle-aged American actress Karen Stone (Leigh), who flees to Rome with her wealthy invalid husband (John Phillips) after a disastrous try as Shakespeare's young heroine Rosalind in "As You Like It". En route, Mr. Stone succumbs to heart failure. Bereft of both her husband and her career, Mrs. Stone decides to take an apartment and remain in Rome indefinitely. At loose ends, she is increasingly aware she's beginning to "drift" without any direction, which alarms her. This plus her status as a vulnerable rich widow, makes her prey for an unsavory Contessa (Lotte Lenya) who is nothing more than a female pimp that dangles vain pretty boy Paulo DiLeo (Warren Beatty) in Mrs. Stone's path. At first resistant, Mrs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Arsov on October 28, 2012
Format: DVD
Few words about the two movie adaptations of Tennessee's brilliant novella.

The first one is the 1961 film with Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty and Lotte Lenya, directed by José Quintero and with screenplay by Gavin Lambert. The second is the 2003 made-for-television production starring Helen Mirren, Olivier Martinez and Anne Bancroft , directed by Robert Allan Ackerman and with screenplay by Martin Sherman. Neither movie does full justice to the literary original. But the former is much closer than the latter.

The 1961 movie is visually rather badly dated. Most of it was shot in studio and, despite the lavish production, it's difficult to be taken in that it's Rome. But the screenplay is a fine adaptation, using most of the best lines in the novella, and Quintero is an excellent director (amazingly, this was his debut on the screen, having previously directed only on the stage). Of course any hints about Meg's lesbian inclinations or Paolo's bisexuality (one of his previous clients was a Baron) are eliminated completely, but neither are they central to the work. Few other "straight" sexual references are toned down but the character of the book is on the whole preserved.

(So many people so wrongly think that Tennessee was concerned in his works with exploration of homosexuality, repressed or not. Not at all. It is confused sexuality that he finds most fascinating. And the confusion refers to both the direction and the intensity. But that's another story.)

Although "A Streetcar Named Desire" remains my absolutely first choice, it is not hard to see why Tennessee Williams called this version of "The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone" "a poem" and his personal favourite of all movies based on his works.
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