The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

104 mins | Drama | 22 December 1961

Director:

José Quintero

Writer:

Gavin Lambert

Producer:

Louis de Rochemont

Cinematographer:

Harry Waxman

Editor:

Ralph Kemplen

Production Designer:

Roger Furse

Production Company:

A. A. Productions
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HISTORY

Film rights to playwright Tennessee Williams’s first novel, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950), were initially sought by producer-director Harry Horner, according to a 29 Jun 1955 DV item. Although the 5 Jul 1955 DV stated that Williams had agreed to adapt the script for Horner, the project went dormant. Three years later, the 17 Sep 1958 NYT noted that Ben Levinson wanted to produce a film adaptation, possibly starring Irene Rich as “Karen Stone.” Williams’s agent, Audrey Wood, reportedly agreed to the collaboration barring script approval. However, Levinson was no longer involved when a 22 May 1960 NYT article announced that producer Louis de Rochemont had acquired rights to Williams’s novel, and was pursuing Panamanian theater director José Quintero to direct, and Vivien Leigh to star. The 23 Jun 1959 DV noted that Williams’s “asking price,” including rights to his screenplay, was $250,000.
       Gavin Lambert was hired to write a new script. A Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike was underway at the time, but the project was unhindered since de Rochemont’s independent production company was on the “non-struck list,” according to a 6 May 1960 DV brief. On 13 Sep 1960, NYT stated that Seven Arts Productions, Ltd. would co-produce. Later that month, the 22 Sep 1960 DV reported that Warner Bros. had acquired rights, and it was unclear whether or not the project would remain a de Rochemont-Seven Arts collaboration.
       Filmmakers originally planned to shoot on location in Rome, Italy, where an advance unit spent eight weeks preparing for production, according to a 16 Nov ... More Less

Film rights to playwright Tennessee Williams’s first novel, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950), were initially sought by producer-director Harry Horner, according to a 29 Jun 1955 DV item. Although the 5 Jul 1955 DV stated that Williams had agreed to adapt the script for Horner, the project went dormant. Three years later, the 17 Sep 1958 NYT noted that Ben Levinson wanted to produce a film adaptation, possibly starring Irene Rich as “Karen Stone.” Williams’s agent, Audrey Wood, reportedly agreed to the collaboration barring script approval. However, Levinson was no longer involved when a 22 May 1960 NYT article announced that producer Louis de Rochemont had acquired rights to Williams’s novel, and was pursuing Panamanian theater director José Quintero to direct, and Vivien Leigh to star. The 23 Jun 1959 DV noted that Williams’s “asking price,” including rights to his screenplay, was $250,000.
       Gavin Lambert was hired to write a new script. A Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike was underway at the time, but the project was unhindered since de Rochemont’s independent production company was on the “non-struck list,” according to a 6 May 1960 DV brief. On 13 Sep 1960, NYT stated that Seven Arts Productions, Ltd. would co-produce. Later that month, the 22 Sep 1960 DV reported that Warner Bros. had acquired rights, and it was unclear whether or not the project would remain a de Rochemont-Seven Arts collaboration.
       Filmmakers originally planned to shoot on location in Rome, Italy, where an advance unit spent eight weeks preparing for production, according to a 16 Nov 1960 Var item. However, the Italian Ministry of Culture deemed the script unacceptable due to its portrayal of “café society vice.” The 15 Jan 1961 NYT noted a recent increase in Italian censorship, partly owing to Federico Fellini’s controversial 1960 film, La Dolce Vita. In lieu of Rome, principal photography moved to Associated British Elstree Studios in London, England. Shooting began there on 6 Dec 1960, as cited in a 15 Feb 1961 Var production chart. Permission was eventually granted for three weeks of exterior shooting in Rome, which commenced in mid-Apr 1961, according to a 26 Apr 1961 Var news brief.
       An article in the 15 Jan 1961 NYT stated that Warren Beatty was cast as “Paolo di Leo” days prior to the start of filming. John Saxon had previously been considered, as noted in the 30 Sep 1960 DV, and Beatty was initially turned down on the basis that the actor should be Italian. Determined to get the part, Beatty flew to Puerto Rico to lobby Tennessee Williams. With Williams’s blessing, he subsequently convinced de Rochemont, Quintero, and Vivien Leigh. A 5 Nov 1962 LAT article reported that Beatty “was so anxious” to do the role that he promised Seven Arts an option to appear in more pictures. Beatty allegedly reneged on the deal, and Seven Arts sued him.
       On set, Beatty was coached “all day” by an Italian tutor, according to the 13 Dec 1960 DV.
       Although a 23 Jun 1960 LAT brief announced that Ilona Massey had been cast in a starring role, Massey did not remain with the project. The 5 Jan 1961 LAT stated that welterweight boxer Jack “Kid” Berg would play a small role, and an 8 Feb 1961 DV “Film Castings” column listed Terence Stamp, John Lane, Ludo Greco, Sarah Miles, Gabriella Licudi, and Mouira Budgerg as recent additions to the cast.
       Quintero sought Elmer Bernstein to compose the score, the 1 Dec 1960 DV reported, but Richard Addinsell was ultimately hired.
       The film opened to mixed reviews on 22 Dec 1961 at Los Angeles, CA’s Beverly Theatre, and on 28 Dec 1961 in New York City. According to a 15 Feb 1962 DV brief, in Erie, PA, it opened under the title The Widow and the Gigolo.
       In her first onscreen appearance since the 1931 German film, The 3 Penny Opera, Austrian singer Lotte Lenya was nominated for an Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role, and a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture.
       The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone marked the sole theatrical motion picture directed by José Quintero. The 30 May 1962 Var stated that Quintero was the first Panamanian to have directed a theatrical feature film.
       A remake starring Helen Mirren and Olivier Martinez debuted on the Showtime cable network in 2003. According to the 27 Apr 2003 LAT, the later version hewed more closely to Williams’s novel, partly because it was based in 1950 (as opposed to 1961, as in the original film), in the post-WWII poverty that ravaged Italy and drove the character of Paolo di Leo. In addition to changing the time period, Gavin Lambert’s screenplay also excised the novel’s flashbacks to Karen Stone’s past, as stated in the 15 Jan 1961 NYT. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1955
p. 6.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1955
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1959
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 May 1960
p. 14.
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1961
p. 19.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1962
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1960
Section B, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jan 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1962
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
27 Apr 2003.
---
New York Times
17 Sep 1958
p. 46.
New York Times
22 May 1960.
---
New York Times
13 Sep 1960
p. 41.
New York Times
24 Nov 1960
p. 46.
New York Times
15 Jan 1961.
---
New York Times
25 Dec 1961
p. 28.
New York Times
29 Dec 1961
p. 11.
Variety
16 Nov 1960
p. 20.
Variety
15 Feb 1961
p. 15.
Variety
26 Apr 1961
p. 14.
Variety
8 Nov 1961
p. 22.
Variety
6 Dec 1961
p. 6, 18.
Variety
30 May 1962
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assembly ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Sr draughtsman
COSTUMES
Miss Leigh's gowns
Cost des
Ward mistress
Ward master
MUSIC
Mus cond
SOUND
Sd mix
Boom op
Sd cam op
MAKEUP
Chief makeup
Chief hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Loc mgr
Unit mgr
Prod secy
Sketch artist
Prop buyer
Scenic artist
Stills camera
Casting dir
Chargehand elec
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams (New York, 1950).
SONGS
"Che noia l'amour," music and lyrics by Paddy Roberts and Richard Addinsell, sung by Cleo Laine.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Widow and the Gigolo
Release Date:
22 December 1961
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1961 at the Beverly Theatre
New York opening: 28 December 1961
Production Date:
6 December 1960--late April or early May 1961
Copyright Claimant:
A. A. Productions
Copyright Date:
30 December 1961
Copyright Number:
LP23793
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
104
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A disastrous performance in an ingenue role convinces actress Karen Stone that it is time to give up her fading career and vacation in Italy. En route, her wealthy, ailing, husband suffers a fatal stroke. In Rome, after admitting to her journalist friend, Meg, that she is restless, Karen is introduced to handsome gigolo Paolo di Leo by Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales, a cynical procuress. Karen is unable to resist his charm, and in time they become lovers. The countess, however, is dissatisfied with Karen's insistence upon giving Paolo expensive gifts rather than money, and she introduces him to Barbara Bingham, a rich young Hollywood star. The younger woman so arouses Karen's jealousy that she loses all restraint and creates an ugly scene; Paolo, however, defiantly rejects her with the taunting accusation that her pursuit of him has made her the laughing stock of Rome. When she learns later that Paolo and Barbara are having an affair, Karen returns to her apartment and stares down at a young man who has silently followed her ever since her arrival in Rome; she walks to the balcony, wraps the keys to her apartment in a handkerchief, and throws them to the waiting ... +


A disastrous performance in an ingenue role convinces actress Karen Stone that it is time to give up her fading career and vacation in Italy. En route, her wealthy, ailing, husband suffers a fatal stroke. In Rome, after admitting to her journalist friend, Meg, that she is restless, Karen is introduced to handsome gigolo Paolo di Leo by Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales, a cynical procuress. Karen is unable to resist his charm, and in time they become lovers. The countess, however, is dissatisfied with Karen's insistence upon giving Paolo expensive gifts rather than money, and she introduces him to Barbara Bingham, a rich young Hollywood star. The younger woman so arouses Karen's jealousy that she loses all restraint and creates an ugly scene; Paolo, however, defiantly rejects her with the taunting accusation that her pursuit of him has made her the laughing stock of Rome. When she learns later that Paolo and Barbara are having an affair, Karen returns to her apartment and stares down at a young man who has silently followed her ever since her arrival in Rome; she walks to the balcony, wraps the keys to her apartment in a handkerchief, and throws them to the waiting stranger. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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