The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Karen Stone (Vivien Leigh) has had reached heights of success that few others can claim, fame and fortune as a movie star. She was once an elite level star, in demand and held in utmost regard by the critics and the public, but those days have passed. She remains beautiful, but at age fifty, her star doesn’t burn as brightly and her triumphs all reside in the past. A potential second rise is offered in a Broadway play, but only she sees the chance for the success. The public and critics believe she is the wrong choice for the role, as do those close to her. So her husband, who is a businessman twenty years her senoir, offers her a chance to escape. The two will venture to Rome and bask in a holiday, leave the drama behind them for a while. Karen accepts, but the vacation ends before it begins, when her husband dies on the plane. She chooses to remain in Rome however, leasing a gorgeous apartment that has a view to kill for. But she is alone and being by herself has gotten to her, so she desires companionship. This is where the Contessa (Lotte Lenya) comes in, as she introduces Karen to a young stud named Paolo (Warren Beatty). But this is relationship service about more than small time arrangements and if so, what is in the cards for Karen?

As part of a wave of Tennessee Williams related releases, we have The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, the original, not the made for television remake. Williams’ involvement here is that the concept was adapted from one of his works, though a novel, not a stage production. As expected, the dialogue is sharp and while not up to his highest standard, still proves to be effective. To me, the real draw of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is the cast, headed up by Vivien Leigh. She is the perfect choice for this role and she runs with the part, a good effort that has stood the tolls of time. While she doesn’t delve deeply into the role, she still does well and I really enjoyed her work. But Leigh isn’t alone, as Warren Beatty also turns in a solid performance, while others here include Coral Browne, Jill St. John, and Lotte Lenya. Lenya steals her fair share of scenes here, which was rewarded with an Oscar nomination. The story is what you’d expect from Williams, but lacks the spark of his better works, though the cast does help in that respect. I didn’t find the movie to be excellent, but it was passable and is worth seeing just for some of the performances.

Video: How does it look?

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner has churned out some impeccable restorations for certain classic films, but this isn’t one of those films. Not a bad visual effort, but when you think about those restorations, this presentation begins to lose its shine. The print is in decent condition, but has debris and grain present. This wouldn’t normally be an issue with a film of this age, but Warner’s reputation is such that I expected a cleaner print than this. So while still an acceptable effort, I just wanted more from this transfer than Warner provided.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sounds of romance in Rome aren’t that immersive here, but this is an almost fifty year old mono soundtrack, so that is understandable. I heard some minor hiss and distortion at times, but very minor issues and for the vintage of the elements, that’s acceptable. The dialogue is usually fine, with no volume or clarity problems to report. The sounds of Rome aren’t well presented enough to make you feel like you’re there, but decent enough, for mono. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, should you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a new, but brief featurette, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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