Sunday, August 16, 2020

Tonight's Movie: A Little Romance (1979) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

13-year-old Diane Lane made her film debut in A LITTLE ROMANCE (1979), released on Blu-ray earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

I've enjoyed Lane in several films, including her charming performance a few years ago in PARIS CAN WAIT (2016), but this was my first time to see A LITTLE ROMANCE. She's delightful as Lauren, a young American living in France who experiences first love with Daniel (Thelonious Bernard), a French boy.

Lauren and Daniel come from different backgrounds -- her family is wealthy, while his father is an alcoholic taxi driver -- but they're united by their genius-level IQs and the fact they don't quite fit in with their peers. Lauren likes to read philosophy, and Daniel constantly sneaks off to movies. (Two earlier films from this movie's director, George Roy Hill, figure into the plot along with classics like THE BIG SLEEP.)

Lauren and Daniel enjoy being themselves in each other's company, but when Lauren's stepfather Richard (Arthur Hill) takes a job back in the U.S., their budding relationship is threatened. Lauren decides they need to travel to Venice, where they will kiss under a bridge which, legend has it, will guarantee they will remain true to one another always.

Of course, two young teenagers might not be able to cross the border unaccompanied by an they recruit the help of elderly Julius (Laurence Olivier), a man they met by chance who told them the romantic story of the bridge in the first place.

I enjoyed this sweet film, which had some unexpected discoveries, such as Broderick Crawford amusingly playing himself in several scenes. I laughed out loud when Daniel said to him that he had hit someone just like Crawford hit Ward Bond in SIN TOWN (1942). Moments like that make the film particularly enjoyable for movie fans.

Lane is delightful as a young lady who seems more mature than her flighty mother Kay (Sally Kellerman), though she's not so adult that she doesn't see the folly in running off to Italy and scaring her parents. That aspect was actually the only part of the movie I didn't like; I think I simply saw the situation too much from the worried parents' point of view to fully enjoy it.

Bernard is engaging as the smart young movie fan, while Olivier rather gleefully hams it up, though he ultimately has some touching moments.

For me the finest performance and best-written part in the film was Hill as the stepfather, a quiet, classy business executive who notices a great deal. He's able to relate to Lauren in an empathetic way which is beyond the ability of her high-strung mother; he might be Lauren's second stepfather, but one feels glad he's going to be around to guide and support Lauren as she heads toward adulthood.

One feels particularly assured Richard will be around after he quietly but firmly removes movie director George de Marco (David Dukes) from Kay's life. I suppose my only question about Richard was how he ended up married to the rather silly Kay in the first place.

A LITTLE ROMANCE features an Oscar-winning score by Georges Delerue. It was filmed by Pierre-William Glenn. The running time is 110 minutes.

The widescreen Warner Archive Blu-ray is a lovely print. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.


Blogger barrylane said...

For me, seeing Brod play himself, was an outstanding souvenir, without that, just okay, although I like Diane Lane.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It was quite fun watching Crawford in this. I went into the movie "cold" so it was a surprise!

Lane was quite talented from her earliest experience in film. Made me want to go back and revisit a couple of the films I like that she made as an adult.

Best wishes,

11:56 PM  

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