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Review - The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (DVD-2006)
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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (DVD-2006)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Daniel Severin

 

Several classic Tennessee Williams film adaptations have recently come out on DVD from Warner Home Video, two of which star Vivien Leigh. I’m sure you know A Streetcar Named Desire, but what’s the other one? Well, it’s Warren Beatty’s second movie, if that helps. Give up? The answer is The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, a 1961 film about an aging stage actress. As Karen Stone, Leigh realizes she is too old to play Shakespeare’s teenage heroines, so she runs away to Europe, tells her New York friends she’s dying, and falls in love with an Italian gigolo, played by Beatty. The lavish Technicolor film, shot partly in Rome, co-stars Lotte Lenya as a scheming countess out to make a buck any way she can.

 

Based on Tennessee Williams’s only novel, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone didn’t do too well when first released, yet the author said it was the best movie made from one of his plays or stories, which is high praise indeed from the author of The Glass Menagerie. A featurette on the DVD describes the parallels between the film and the careers of those involved: Williams and Beatty’s careers were on the rise, while Leigh would make only one more movie after Mrs. Stone. The film is fascinating to watch in a perverse way, as only Williams could pull off. The DVD transfer is stunning and makes the movie seem even better.

 

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is available on DVD alone or as part of the Tennessee Williams Collection, along with the special edition of Streetcar, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Night of the Iguana.

 

 

2006 Daniel Severin/Celluloid Dreams

 

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