Three Coins In The Fountain (1954) is a big brassy, but oh so velvety smooth and glossy confection from 20th Century Fox – circa its Cinemascope love-making on a grand scale. The film stars Dorothy MacGuire (Miss France), Jean Peters (Anita) and Maggie MacNamara (Maria) as a trio of lovelorn American ladies working at a consulate in Rome.
Naturally, this pining for testosterone doesn’t go unheeded very long. After the girls take their hard earned dimes and nickels and toss them into the Trevi Fountain, they are not so miraculously visited by the likes of three gentlemen; the slightly stuffy John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb), the lothario incarnate, Georgio Bianchi (Rosanno Brazzi) and ladies man about town, Prince Dino de Cessi (Louis Jourdan).
Not all the romance goes sugary sweet, though make no mistake – this is a film in which predictability is the order of the day. As is the case with tripe and treacle befitting any mind-decaying fancy like this, “Three Coins” is greatly benefited by its anamorphic Cinemascope projection capturing Rome in its illustrious and vivid splendor and making at least half of the film a dreamy travelogue. Director Jean Negulesco, lulls his audience with Oscar winning cinematography showcased under Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn’s Oscar winning title song performed by Frank Sinatra (who does not appear in the film).
Though time has not been kind to previous issues of this film, on DVD most of the folly and age in prior home video mishaps has happily been corrected here. The Cinemascope image is sumptuous and at times even startling in its clarity. Colors are rich and eye popping, and on the whole palpable to the quality of the original source material. Contrast levels do tend to be a bit weak with blacks coming off deep gray than black. There is also the very annoying momentary degradation of color between fades and dissolves that is inherent in all Cinemascope productions. Contrast levels are bang on. A hint of edge enhancement does not distract.
The audio is a 5.1 remix of that melodious six track wonder that was Cinemascope stereo. Despite its obvious shortcomings in fidelity – when directly compared to today’s technological wizardry - there’s great admiration on the part of this reviewer for the slippery ease with which Sinatra’s soothing vocals envelop the home viewer aggressively from all five channels. Bottom line: cast your pennies into this fountain. It’s escapism worth paying for.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)