Friday, October 3, 2014

Case Study No. 1616: Prudence Bell

ROME ADVENTURE (1962) Troy Donahue Suzanne Pleshette Angie Dickinson bas movie trashy trailer
ROME ADVENTURE (1962) Troy Donahue Suzanne Pleshette Angie Dickinson bas movie trashy trailer
Tags: ROME ADVENTURE 1962 Troy Donahue Suzanne Pleshette Angie Dickinson bas movie trashy trailer
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[various shots of the Italian landscape are shown]
NARRATOR: "Bella Italia" ... Italy the beautiful! Even the names on the land are a song. San Gimignano. Firenze. Isola Bella. Lago Maggiore. Passo Sella. Poets and painters have recorded its splendors through the ages, and now it has been captured on film as you've never seen it before.
[cut to shots of the filming of "Rome Adventure"]
NARRATOR: This is the Warner Brothers film crew on location. The boy and girl are Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette. Troy plays the part of the young architect. Suzanne is a librarian who breaks with her stuffy New England background to live this "Rome Adventure" ...
[cut to various scenes from the movie]
NARRATOR: Her Rome adventure begins, you see, when the librarian gets caught with a book called "Lovers Must Learn."
[cut to Pleshette's character being reprimanded for her choice of reading material]
SCHOOL MATRON: The very word "Lovers" implies--
[cut to the librarian standing up]
PRUDENCE BELL: I'd like my book back, please. I'm going to need it ... because I'm going to where they really know what love's about. To Italy.
[cut to more scenes from the movie]
NARRATOR: And wherever this girl goes, she spreads enthusiasm for learning. Of course, when a student is as eager as she is, you know she'll pass rapidly to advanced studies!
[cut to the librarian kissing an Italian man]
ROBERTO ORLANDI: You are a graduate.
[she takes off her earrings]
PRUDENCE BELL: Well then ... Lesson number three.
[cut to the librarian talking to another woman]
DAISY BRONSON: I used to be a school teacher, y'know ...
[the woman takes off her glasses]
DAISY BRONSON: First time a good-looking Italian man pinched my bottom, I said to myself "This is for me!"
PRUDENCE BELL: And, uh, they're still ...
[she makes a "pinching" motion with her fingers]
DAISY BRONSON: You better believe it, and I still like it!
[cut to the librarian having an argument with a man carrying her luggage]
DON PORTER: What'd you want me to do, make an explanation in front of God and everybody that we're not Mister and Misses Porter?
PRUDENCE BELL: You could at least have asked for separate rooms!
[cut to more scenes from the movie]
NARRATOR: In a country so full of love as Italy, there are of course, lots of other girls ... and for our little librarian, other girls mean competition!
[cut to the librarian catching Don kissing another woman, then to the two of them arguing]
PRUDENCE BELL: And you told everybody in the place how much you loved her?
DON PORTER: You knew about Lita, she was no secret.
[cut to the librarian as she starts to cry]
PRUDENCE BELL: I was foolish enough to think that I was somebody special ...
DON PORTER: But you are special!
[cut to more scenes from the movie, as "Come to Italy - where love can be romance ... or a riot ... with the girl determined to learn about it all!" appears on screen]
[cut to the librarian and Don kissing]
DON PORTER: Did you enjoy it?
PRUDENCE BELL: Oh, very much, thank you!
[cut to the librarian smiling at Don]
PRUDENCE BELL: Y'know, my mother has a theory. She says that for every woman on Earth, there's only one man ... and you know when he comes along, because you hear something like bells ringing.
[real church bells suddenly start ringing]
PRUDENCE BELL: Waddaya know?
[she laughs]
PRUDENCE BELL: I did hear bells, didn't I?
["Where does a girl stop in Rome?" appears on screen]




Daves, Delmer (Director). Rome Adventure. United States: Warner Bros., 1962.

Starring: Suzanne Pleshette (Prudence Bell, College Assistant Librarian); Troy Donahue (Don Porter)

This drippy romantic travelogue of Rome opens with the 21-year-old assistant librarian of the Briarcroft College for Women being grilled by a committee of uptight school matrons alarmed that she lent a scandalous book (Lovers Must Learn, her personal copy) to one of the students, as it had previously been deemed too adult because "the book has some obscene passages in it." Pretty Prudence is angry not about censorship but that this particular book could help the disturbed senior who needs a healthier viewpoint about relationships. She talks about the inborn need for love, that it is not obscene. She says the woman in the book is fearful of becoming like her teachers, unloved and alone. The women get the point but want her to answer for breaking the rules. She ends the confrontation by quitting on the spot, declaring that she is taking the book's advice and learning about love. "This is Independence Day. I'd like my book back, please – I'm going to need it because I'm going to where they really know what love's about, to Italy." Prudence Bell, the role that introduces Suzanne Pleshette before she developed her trademark gravely voice, has no other library-related scenes, but the profession and her unfortunate name were obviously assigned by a filmmaker intent on hammering home her virginal innocence, and that she's eager to find love even if uncertain how to do it. (Apparently you kiss a lot of men.) She finds a job in Rome working at an American bookstore where the mascot is an enormous English sheepdog. Notable quote: "I've analyzed myself and I find I have absolutely no talent for being a spinster."



"Rome Adventure" (1962) stars attractive Suzanne Pleshette playing opposite Troy Donahue, a major Hollywood movie and television heartthrob of the late 1950s and early 1960s. As the film opens, Prudence Bell (Pleshette), assistant librarian at Briarcroft College for Women, is appearing before the faculty board to explain why she permitted a senior student to read "Lovers Must Learn" by Irving Fineman, a book considered "too adult" for the students of Briarcroft.

Prudence defends her decision to give the book to the young students and delivers "a lecture on love" to the five elderly women who compose the board. Sensing the futility of her situation, she resigns, informing board members, "Perhaps I should thank you for making me realize that I should take the book's advice myself ... I'm going to where they really know what love's about. To Italy." Prudence walks away, but stops at the doorway to exclaim, "Arrivederci, Briacroft!"

Prudence unhesitatingly leaves Briarcroft in search of romance. In Rome, she meets and falls in love with Don Porter (Troy Donahue), who is trying to extricate himself from an affair with Lydia (Angie Dickinson), resulting in numerous familiar soap opera situations. Loving Don but believing he loves Lydia, Prudence (with tears and a broken heart) returns home. Don, however, loves Prudence and takes a flight home to meet Prudence when her oceanliner docks.

Filmgoers, for a brief two minutes at the beginning of the film, recognize Prudence as a librarian. She is identified as a librarian and is adept at defending her rationale for giving and encouraging a student to read Fineman's novel. A brunette (full bang; bouffant brushed back behind ears), Prudence dresses colorfully but conservatively. Prudence's activities during the remainder of the film belie her professed occupation. As many preceding reel librarians, she never looks back. She leaves Briarcroft and her occupation to search for love in Rome.

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