THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS STONE is always a pleasure to see again, maybe not a great movie, but a splendidly enjoyable melodrama where Vivien Leigh is again ideal - this time as Karen Stone, an ageing famous actress fleeing from her public and taking up residence in
Soon though he is mocking her and arranging other dates with that young actress new in Rome (Jill St John), while the homeless young man stalking Mrs Stone (Jeremy Spenser, below) becomes more bold ... finally the abandoned Mrs Stone throws down her keys to the vagrant and thinks that five years more is all she wants ... one almost laughs out loud at Beatty's youthful beauty and petulence as Vivien again sketches her desperation (this of course captures her after the Olivier years) -
if the film had been better (it was directed by theatre director Jose Quintero) it could have been one of her great roles equalling Scarlett O'Hara or Blanche DuBois, or THE DEEP BLUE SEA or her last appearance in SHIP OF FOOLS and she looks great in those Balmain outfits.
(Pauline Kael in "I Lost It At The Movies" says: "The Tennessee Williams novella is about a proud, cold-hearted bitch without cares or responsibilities who learns that sex is all that holds her to life, it is the only sensation that momentarily saves her from the meaningless drift of her existance" and who used her youth and beauty to get ahead and now finds she is reduced to purchasing both. Vivian has some delicious scenes with Lotte, who is as perfect as her Rosa Klebb here.
Penny Stalling in the very entertaining Flesh and Fantasy (1978) says:
“Tennessee Williams wanted the lead in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone to go to Katherine Hepburn, after seeing her performance as the scheming mother in Suddenly Last Summer. But Hepburn, who resented the way her advancing years had been treated in that film, had no intention of inviting comparison between herself and the lonely middle-aged actress who buys the attentions of a male hustler. Although the public was intrigued by rumors of an off-screen liaison between the film’s subsequent stars, Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty, Spring was a disappointment at the box office. It seems that audiences were uncomfortable with the film’s depressing theme, and with the painful similarities between the lives of Vivien Leigh and Karen Stone.”
(Hepburn, of course, had already done the love-starved woman in Italy falling for a handsome man, in Lean's SUMMERTIME in 1955, so would hardly have repeated herself).
Contrast with Tom Hiddleston in HIGH RISE: