Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Three Coins In The Fountain (dir by Jean Negulesco)


The 1954 Best Picture nominee, Three Coins In The Fountain, tells the story of three American women living in Rome. They’re all employed by the same secretarial agency. Maria Williams (Maggie McNamara) is young and hoping that she’ll stay in Rome for at least a year and that she’ll meet her future husband. Anita Hutchins (Jean Peters) is not-so-young and is planning on returning to America so that she can meet her own future husband. Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire) is middle-aged and has spent the last 15 years working for the man that she wishes could be her future husband.

If you’re getting the feeling that there’s not much to our leads beyond a desire to get married, you’re not wrong. However, Anita swears that it’s impossible to find a husband in Rome because the only Italians who are interested in “secretaries” are too poor to be good husbands which …. well, like I mentioned before, this film is from 1954. Just the fact that the film featured three single women living together in a foreign country was probably considered to be daring back in 1954.

The three women eventually end up at the Trevi Fountain, where Maria and Frances throw in their coins and make their wishes. Anita, however, does not toss in a coin because apparently, she’s not scared of offending God. No sooner have the three women visited the fountain than things begin to happen. Soon, all three of them are in love but each has to deal with a compliction.

Miss Frances may have finally convinced her employer, writer John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb), to marry her but when he discovers that he’s terminally ill, he tries to call off the engagment.

Maria meets Prince Dino di Cessi (Louis Jourdan) but will the Prince still want to be with her after he discovers that she’s been lying about being interested in the same things that he’s interested in?

Anita falls for Giorgio (Rossano Brazzi) but he’s poor! Plus, he also works for the agency and apparently, there’s some sort of weird 1954 rule that forbids the American employees from fraternizing with the Italian employees. Is Anita willing to lose her job just so she can marry someone who doesn’t have any money?

That’s pretty much it. Other than John Shadwell wrestling with his own mortality, there’s really not a whole lot of drama to be found in Three Coins In The Fountain. This is a film about pleasant people doing pleasant things and having pleasant conversations. It’s a rather chaste romance, one of those films where you have no doubt that everyone involved will wait until marriage and that all of the women will quit their jobs and settle down as soon as the right ring gets put on their finger. In other words, this is very much a film of its time and watching it today can be bit of an odd experience. This is ultimately the type of film that works best as a travelogue. Rome looks beautiful. There’s a striking shot of the sunset reflected in the canals of Venice. The Trevi Fountain truly does look like it can grant wishes. (It’s amusing to compare the reverence that the American-made Three Coins In The Fountain shows towards The Trevi Fountain to the way that Rome-native Federico Fellini used the fountain in La Dolce Vita.) One gets the feeling that, even in 1954, people flocked to this film more to see Rome than to really worry about whether or not the Prince would eventually propose.

In fact, one of the main reasons why I watched this film tonight is because I spent one of the greatest summers of my life in Italy. I’ve been to Rome. I’ve thrown coins into the Trevi Fountain and I’ve made wishes. I loved Rome. I loved the people. I loved the culture. I loved the buildings. I loved the feeling of walking through history. I loved looking out at the horizon and feeling as if I was somehow in a living painting. (I actually went into a bit of daze when I was in Florence. Stendhal Syndrome is for real.) If you can’t find romance in Rome then you’re obviously not looking. For me, the main appeal of Three Coins In The Fountain was being able to watch it and say, “I’ve been there!” I imagine for audiences in 1954, the appeal was probably to be able to watch it and say, “I’m going to go there!”

How did this perfectly pleasant but otherwise unmemorable film end up as a best picture nominee? I imagine a lot of it had to do with the fact that the film was a box office success. It’s certainly not because it was a better film than either Rear Window or Sabrina, both of which were not nominated for Best Picture despite being nominated for Best Director. In the end, the 1954 Best Picture Oscar was won by On The Waterfront, a film that appears to be taking place in an entirely different universe than Three Coins In A Fountain.

4 Shots From 4 Films: In Memory of Monte Hellman


4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

I just saw that Monte Hellman, one of the most interesting American directors of all time, passed away today. He was 88 years old. Hellman didn’t direct a lot of films but the ones that he did direct were some of the most unique American films of their time. The Shooting is perhaps the strangest western ever made. Two Lane Blacktop is one of the greatest road films. Cockfighter and China 9 Liberty 37 both suffered from distribution problems but they have since been rediscovered by audiences and critics. Even Silent Night Deadly Night 3 has its moments of uniquely deranged mayhem, though Hellman himself often said that he did the film strictly for the money.

In honor of Monte Hellman’s legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Monte Hellman Films

The Shooting (1966, dir by Monte Hellman, DP: Gregory Sandor)
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971, dir by Monte Hellman, DP: Jack Deerson)
Cockfighter (1974, dir by Monte Hellman, DP: Nestor Almendros)
Road to Nowhere (2010, dir by Monte Hellman, DP: Josep M. Civit)

Today is Edie Sedgwick’s Birthday


Edie Sedgwick (1943 — 1971)

Today, Edie Sedgwick would have been 78 years old. Edie and her tragic life has always fascinated me. I’ve always related to her. As Edie once put it, “It’s not that I’m rebelling. I’m just trying to find a different way.”

Below is the “screen test” that Andy Warhol shot of Edge Sedgwick in 1964. Warhol did screen tests of several famous people, everyone from Dennis Hopper to Salvador Dali to Bob Dylan to the various denizens of the Factory. He would simply turn on the camera and film without sound and it’s always interesting to see how each subject deal with being filmed without direction. Edie was one of the few who controlled the camera from the minute her screen test began to the moment that it ended.

Edie Sedgwick’s life is often described as being a tragedy and, certainly, it was. But it was also filled with hope and optimism and future promise. That the world ultimately proved to be unworthy of Edie does not change who she was or how important she was to the development of pop culture.

Today, on her birthday, we honor the the amazing Edie Sedgwick.

The Dorian Awards Honor Nomadland!


GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, have announced the winners of 2020 Dorian Awards and, in doing so, they have become the latest critic group to name Nomadland the best film of the year.  They may also be the last, unless there’s some regional group that’s planning on springing their awards the day before the Oscar ceremony.

Here are the winners:

Best Film
FIRST COW
MINARI
NOMADLAND
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SOUND OF METAL

Best LGBTQ Film
AMMONITE
I CARRY YOU WITH ME
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
SUPERNOVA
UNCLE FRANK

Best Foreign Language Film
ANOTHER ROUND
BACURAU
I CARRY YOU WITH ME
LA LLORONA
MINARI
TWO OF US

Best Director
CHLOÉ ZHAO – NOMADLAND
EMERALD FENNELL – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
KELLY REICHARDT – FIRST COW
LEE ISAAC CHUNG – MINARI
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

Best Screenplay (original or adapted)
CHLOE ZHAO – NOMADLAND
ELIZA HITTMAN – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
EMERALD FENNELL – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
LEE ISAAC CHUNG – MINARI
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION

Best Unsung Film 
DRIVEWAYS
FIRST COW
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
MISS JUNETEENTH
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
SHIRLEY
THE ASSISTANT

Best Documentary
COLLECTIVE
CRIP CAMP
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD
DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN (TIE)
TIME
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (TIE)

Best LGBTQ Documentary
A SECRET LOVE
BORN TO BE
DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN (TIE)
MUCHO MUCHO AMOR: THE LEGEND OF WALTER MERCADO
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (TIE)

Best Film Performance — Actress
CAREY MULLIGAN – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
FRANCES MCDORMAND – NOMADLAND
NICOLE BEHARIE – MISS JUNETEENTH
SIDNEY FLANIGAN – NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
VIOLA DAVIS – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

Best Film Performance — Actor 
ANTHONY HOPKINS – THE FATHER
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
DELROY LINDO – DA 5 BLOODS
RIZ AHMED – SOUND OF METAL
STEVEN YEUN – MINARI

Best Film Performance — SUPPORTING Actress 
AMANDA SEYFRIED – MANK
CANDICE BERGEN – LET THEM ALL TALK
MARIA BAKALOVA – BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM
OLIVIA COLMAN – THE FATHER
YUH-JUNG YOUN – MINARI

Best Film Performance — SUPPORTING Actor 
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – DA 5 BLOODS
DANIEL KALUUYA – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LESLIE ODOM JR. – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
PAUL RACI – SOUND OF METAL
SACHA BARON COHEN – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

Most Visually Striking Film 
BIRDS OF PREY: AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN
MANK
NOMADLAND
SOUL
WOLFWALKERS

Campiest Flick
BAD HAIR
BIRDS OF PREY: AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN
EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA
THE PROM
WONDER WOMAN 1984

“We’re Wilde About You!” Rising Star Award
ALAN S. KIM
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR
MARIA BAKALOVA
RADHA BLANK
SIDNEY FLANIGAN

Wilde Artist Award (to a truly groundbreaking force in entertainment)
CHADWICK BOSEMAN
CHLOE ZHAO
DOLLY PARTON
ELLIOT PAGE
REGINA KING

GALECA Trailblazer Award (For creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity)
ISABEL SANDOVAL

Timeless Star (Honoring an actor or performer whose exemplary career has been marked by character, wisdom and wit)
LESLIE JORDAN

Artwork of the Day: Startling Comics (by Alex Schomburg)


by Alex Schomburg

That robot’s in love! Never take your date to a swamp. A human would have understood that.

This is from 1949. The cover was done by Alex Schomburg. This issue had become very popular with collectors both because of Schomburg’s artwork but also because some people think that the robot on the cover was the inspiration for Futurama‘s Bender.

Music Video of the Day: (619) 239-King by Mojo Nixon and Skip Roper (1989, directed by Bill Fishman)


Yes, that was a real number. It was not, as some people have reported, Mojo Nixon’s private number. Instead, it was a number that was connected to house in San Diego where people could call and leave reports of having sighted Elvis or really anything else they wanted to say to Mojo. According to the comments left for this video on YouTube, Mojo often changed the message on the machine.

It’s been a while since we’ve had any Elvis sightings. I don’t know how many people remember this but when I was a kid, there were people who seriously believed that Elvis had faked his death and was living in Florida. There were even pictures that people claimed to have taken of him. The funny thing is that, in all of these pictures, Elvis still had his sideburns and was usually wearing a white jump suit. Elvis faked his death but wasn’t willing to get a haircut or buy any new clothes.

If Elvis is still alive, he’s 86 years old now.

Enjoy!