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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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

Amazon.com

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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBD9TO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,122 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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I became fascinated reading Tennessee Williams' short 1950 novel, "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and wanted to see its two film adaptations both for themselves and to better understand the story. During his work on the novel, Williams had imagined it on screen starring the famed actress Greta Garbo. It is perhaps unsurprising that the two films have received more attention than Williams' book.

I saw the second film first: a 2003 Showtime feature starring Helen Mirren. I then turned to this 1961 film starring the celebrated actress Vivian Leigh and directed by Jose Quntero. Quintero achieved fame as a theater director. "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" is his only film. Neither film fully realizes the novel, but each is good and each enhanced my appreciation of the book.

Williams' novel and both films tell the story of Karen Stone, an actress of 50 who is losing her beauty and whose wealthy husband dies early in the film. The couple's sex life had been nil. Karen Stone settles in post WW II Rome where she is lonely and suffers from the boredom and rootlessness she calls the "drift". She seeks the passion and physical intimacy she lacked with her husband and in her career as an actress. A sinister, elderly Contessa sets up Mrs Stone with a series of gigolos, of whom the most important is the young, handsome, and cruel Paolo, 25. Paolo sets out to bilk Mrs. Stone of her money, but she is rather too cagey for him. However, she falls for the young gigolo and deludes herself into believing that the gigolo has fallen for her. Mrs Stone finally realizes that she has been deluding herself and dismisses Paolo and the Contessa. Startlingly, she takes up with a young impoverished man who has been stalking her.
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