The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, unlike most Tennessee Williams screen adaptations, is not based on a Tennessee Williams play, but rather on a Williams novella, his only one, about an elderly ex-beauty who starts a new romance in Italy when her husband passes away. Eventually she becomes pathetic by convincing herself that an obvious gigolo really loves her.

Whoa, Tennessee never tried anything similar to that before!

It was previously made into a film with Warren Beatty, Vivien Leigh, and Lotte Lenya, three people who were custom made for acting in the Tennessee Williams oeuvre.

This time the role of the the fading beauty is played by Helen Mirren, a terrific actress who looks great for her age, but does not look like a middle aged woman who used to be a great and glamorous beauty. She looks like what she is - a middle aged woman who used to be an average looking woman with a great chest.


Helen Mirren shows her breasts twice, once in a dark, indirect, sex scene, and once in clear daylight while she is sunbathing.

When it comes to acting skills, Mirren had to carry the entire film.

  • The young Gigolo is played by Olivier Martinez, an exquisitely handsome man with minimal skills and no appreciable hint of a personality. Imagine a young Richard Gere, albeit with an outrageous accent. On top of that Gallic Gere, overlay a sense that every word is being pronounced phonetically and with great difficulty. There's Olivier.
  • The role of the old Contessa is played by Anne Bancroft. Bancroft seems to specialize in playing the old gypsy crone these days, whether she is supposed to or not. In Dracula, Dead and Loving It, she actually played a character called "old gypsy woman". In Malice, she was supposed to be an old drunk or something, but she still played "old gypsy woman". She played the same character here as well, using the same basic look and accent as in the other films. Unfortunately, she was supposed to be playing an Italian countess. Although Bancroft actually is of Italian ancestry, she isn't able to muster up anything resembling an Italian accent. In fact, Bancroft only has one accent, and that is "vaguely Eastern European, tinted by Mel Brooks". Although Bancroft has actually lived a privileged life, she seems unable to convey the breeding of a woman who either is or is pretending to be a countess. Her personality in this film seems to be that of a burnt-out low-rent scam artist, and she only needs a crystal ball to make her amateurish characterization complete.

In short, the entire production seems like a local dinner theater adaptation of the 1961 movie, which really wasn't that good to begin with. Because the play wasn't actually written by Williams himself, it doesn't even have his sense of flowery high-style decadence (or, depending on your point of view, his inevitable rendering of high period camp with bloated faux-poetic dialogue), leaving only the basic plot and trappings of one of those romance novels with Fabio on the cover.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features, no widescreen

Skip it.

I can't come up with one reason to see it unless you are a granny. Women over 45 rate it 9.9/10 at IMDb, and women in general rate it 1.6 points higher than men, placing it near the very top of the estrogen pyramid. In comparison, even Beaches only scores 1.3 estrogen points.

The Critics Vote ...

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.6/10. (Men 6.3, Women 7.9)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. Enjoyment of this film will require a minimum of one vagina, and the nearby area should be covered with gray hair. I guess Tennessee Williams is his own genre, so his fans may not find this as hilariously overwrought as I did. Based on the IMDb ratings, older female viewers seemed to like it a lot. Personally, I got a few good laughs over the bad acting and exaggerated dialogue. Brian Dennehy had the good sense to die in the first few minutes, and Helen Mirren should have had enough sense to say "no" altogether to this project.

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