ROME ADVENTURE has two beautiful assets: lovely young Suzanne Pleshette and the many sights of Italy.
Pleshette plays Prudence Bell, a New England school librarian who quits her job and leaves the U.S. for sunny Italy, where she finds a job in a bookstore and meets architect Don Porter (Troy Donahue). As Prudence and Don explore Italy together, they fall in love. (Pleshette and Donahue also became an item offscreen, marrying briefly in 1964.)
The movie perhaps works best simply enjoyed as a travelogue. The plot meanders along and serves chiefly as the excuse to show off Italy's gorgeous scenery in widescreen color. Since our oldest daughter just traveled in Italy last week, seeing many of the famous places she just visited via this film was especially enjoyable. The film is beautifully shot, and it's a real treat following Pleshette and Donahue around Italy on his Vespa. (Of course, the "2009" part of my brain couldn't help wondering what would have happened if they'd had an accident -- no helmets back then!)
The film has three main drawbacks: drippy '60s pop music which seems to have been recorded in an echo chamber, a fair amount of obviously "looped" dialogue, and the incredibly wooden Troy Donahue. Some of the dialogue looping was likely due to all the exterior location filming, but there were a couple spots where I wondered if they were simply trying to coax more energetic line readings out of Donahue.
The delightful Pleshette makes up for Donahue's performance, especially as she's onscreen a majority of the movie's running time, and the film has an excellent supporting cast: charming Rossano Brazzi as an older man about town with a yen for Prudence; Constance Ford (A SUMMER PLACE) as Prudence's employer; and Angie Dickinson as Don's former love, a bad, bad girl who tries to come between Don and Prudence. Angie is seen briefly near the start of the movie, and when she reappears in the last half hour she definitely kicks the film's energy level up a notch.
This movie would make a fun double bill paired with THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954), another film featuring both beautiful Italian locations and Rossano Brazzi.
You can read more thoughts on ROME ADVENTURE at Raquelle's blog, Out of the Past.
ROME ADVENTURE runs 119 minutes and was written and directed by Delmer Daves.
ROME ADVENTURE is available on DVD as part of the Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection. The lone extra is a trailer. Curiously, there are no chapter selections, which may be inconvenient for those viewers who are unable to watch the entire film in one sitting.
ROME ADVENTURE is also available on VHS.
Update: I had a feeling when I was watching the movie that the "American Bookstore" where Prudence works was "Marian the Librarian's" library from THE MUSIC MAN, released by the same studio the same year.
According to IMDb, my guess was correct, it's the same set. A fun piece of trivia.