Monday, July 17, 2006

A Hot Afternoon with Rome Adventure

What is she talking about? Has the heat addled her brain? Nope, just staying inside and cool today as temperatures soar into the 90s here in NJ. It’s even too hot to go in the pool. I’ll take a dip later when the day cools off some.

It was still pretty steamy inside as Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette made their way through Italy in the movie, Rome Adventure. The year was 1962 and sex was not really openly shown in movies or on TV. Still, they have no problem getting the point across to the audience that they shared an attraction to each other. And that’s putting it in 1962 terminology! Funny how little you can show and leave the rest to your imagination. I’ve watched it many times, and I still cry in the ending. But don’t mind me. I start crying in Out of Africa the minute I hear the music for the opening credits.

The soundtrack is magnificent, with the theme song Al Di La sung in Italian, one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It sends chills up my spine. After catching this movie on satellite a few years back I became obsessed with obtaining the soundtrack, which is of course, long out of commission. I finally found it on eBay and Rick cut me a CD from a not-too-scratchy vinyl LP. I treasure it.

If you aren’t familiar with the movie, Suzanne Pleshette plays a school librarian that has a run in with the rather straight-laced staff at the snobby girl’s school where she works. The book she loaned to a student has been banned by most schools, and is called “Lovers Must Learn.” They think the book is scandalous because it has the word “lover” in it. She disagrees and quits her job, hops the next boat to Italy and meets dreamy Troy at a pensione in Rome.

Throughout the movie Suzanne wears the kinds of dresses I never got to wear. Sweet little dresses belted at the waist with skirts that flare out as she walks. Little Jackie-O-esque suits and pillbox hats. It’s like watching a time capsule, and life appears simpler then than it does now.

Their somewhat “illicit” no-sex love affair seems very tame in today’s world. They take a vacation together and the bus tour has them listed as Mr. & Mrs. Porter, so they end up with one room instead of two. She gets the bed; he gets the balcony outside. Another time the inn keeper mistakes them for a couple on their honeymoon and wants them to have the bridal suite. They try to explain but they end up with rooms next to each other anyway, connected by the balcony with a gorgeous view. Oh, the scandal of it all! Makes me blush just to think of it. Then, the worst thing happens. While shopping for cheese for their impromptu picnic, Suzanne stumbles upon her mother’s friend in the market. Thank goodness Troy is out rounding up the bottle of wine and not with her! She’s supposed to be on tour on her own! Gasp! She motions to Troy frantically to back away and then they both run like guilty lovers out of the market place as fast as they can so they won’t be discovered. If her Mother found out!! Little did they know that in a few years “free love” and drugs would be prevelant. Thank goodness they had no clue.

Okay, maybe Troy isn’t the best actor around, but he sure is soothing to the eyes. I’ve always thought he was almost too good-looking. I looked him up on the web and was sad to learn he died in 2001. What I didn’t know was that in 1964 he and Suzanne Pleshette got married! Not too dissimilar from today’s stars that act in a movie together, get married and sadly get divorced, as Troy and Suzanne did a year later.

I won’t spoil the ending here in case you decide you want to rent it, but the tacky candelabra he buys tableside plays an important role throughout the last half of the movie.

Enough Adventure for one afternoon. I’ve poached some pears in red wine, cloves and a cinnamon stick. I’m off to assemble my salad of frisee lettuce, poached pears, Maytag blue cheese, walnuts, and a strawberry vinaigrette. After that I think I’ll go for a swim.

I’ll bid you Arrivederci with a “time capsule” photo from our very own Rome Adventure back in 1984. Taken at the Coliseum.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


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