A Little Romance is a 1979 American Technicolor and Panavision romantic comedy film directed by George Roy Hill and starring Laurence Olivier, Thelonious Bernard, and Diane Lane in her film debut. The screenplay was written by Allan Burns and George Roy Hill, based on the novel E=mc2 Mon Amour by Patrick Cauvin. The original music score was composed by Georges Delerue. The film follows a French boy and an American girl who meet in Paris and begin a romance that leads to a journey to Venice where they hope to seal their love forever with a kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset.
The film won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Score for Georges Delerue and received an additional nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Allan Burns. It also received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Laurence Olivier and Best Original Score for Delerue. As the film's young leads, Thelonious Bernard and Diane Lane both received Young Artist Award nominations as Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, as well as earning the film a win as Best Motion Picture Featuring Youth. It was the first film released by Orion Pictures.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Template:Long plot Lauren King (Diane Lane) is a highly "book-smart" and affluent 13-year-old American girl living in Paris with her mother (Sally Kellerman), who works in the movie business, and stepfather (Arthur Hill). Daniel Michon (Thelonious Bernard) is a "street-smart" 13-year-old French boy who also lives in Paris with his father, a taxi driver. The two meet in the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, where a movie Lauren's mother is working on is being filmed and where Daniel is taking a school trip, and fall in love. Lauren's mother fiercely objects to the romance. Daniel punches George, a sleazy friend of Lauren's mother, at Lauren's birthday party for making a crude innuendo about Lauren, and the two are forbidden to date. Lauren and Daniel soon meet Julius Santorin (Laurence Olivier), a quirky but kind elderly man, literally by accident. Daniel is unimpressed by him, but he fascinates Lauren with stories of his life, telling of a tradition that if a couple kiss in a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset while the church bells toll, they will be in love forever.
Told her family will be returning to America soon, Lauren hatches a plan to travel to Venice with Daniel. Though they have money from a horse race (in which Julius fortuitously changes Daniel's bet to the winning horse), they cannot cross the border without an adult. With the help of Julius, to whom they claim they're visiting Lauren's sick mother, the three travel by train but miss their connection to Verona after Julius gets into a conversation during the stop at the Italian border. In the meantime, Lauren's family spark an international investigation, believing she has been abducted.
They hitch a ride with an American couple, Bob and Janet Duryea (Andrew Duncan and Claudette Sutherland), who are touring Italy by car and also traveling to Venice. In Verona, the travelers go out to dinner together, where Bob discovers that his wallet has been stolen. Even though their winnings from the horse race were left on the train in Julius's vest, Julius offers to pay the bill with cash, perplexing Lauren and irritating Daniel, who suspects he stole it. The following morning at breakfast, the Duryeas notice Lauren's picture in an Italian newspaper, revealing her as a missing child. Julius has also seen the paper and intercepts Lauren and Daniel on their way back to the hotel, angry that Lauren lied to him about their true reason for going to Venice and that everyone will think he's a kidnapper.
Because they cannot go back to the hotel, they join a local bicycle race to escape Verona. Julius soon falls behind and Lauren persuades Daniel to go back for him. They find his bike abandoned and him collapsed from exhaustion. Daniel worms his background out of Julius, who also confesses that he both picked Bob's pocket and stole the money for their train tickets, disappointing Lauren. Lauren then reveals that she will be moving back to the United States permanently in two weeks. She wanted to take a gondola to the Bridge of Sighs and kiss Daniel so as they could love each other forever. She berates Julius by dismissing all his stories as lies. Julius admits he lied about some things but insists the legend is true. Daniel decides he still wants to go to Venice with Lauren, and Julius joins them.
In Venice, they spend the night in St Mark's Basilica, until a chance meeting with the Duryeas sets them on the run again hours before sunset. Julius hides them in a movie theater and gives them his remaining cash, promising to return a half-hour before sunset. As soon as they are inside, however, Julius turns himself in to police searching for them; despite being slapped around by an inspector, he refuses to reveal Lauren and Daniel's whereabouts. The two children asleep during the film and awake with just a few minutes remaining. Lauren and Daniel run to find a gondola, most of which are booked by tourists eager to see the sunset from the canals. They finally find an available gondolier who quotes a fare that is 3,000 liras more than Julius gave them. Daniel manages to cajole the gondolier into accepting what they have. The gondolier takes them within sight of the bridge but refuses to go further just as sunset arrives. Daniel pushes him into the canal and, as the bells of the Campanile church begin chiming, the two pull the gondola toward the bridge hand over hand using the pilings; this successfully enables the gondola to glide under the bridge. While the bells are still pealing, Lauren and Daniel kiss and embrace. In the police station, Julius finally reveals the two children's whereabouts.
A few days later, Lauren is back with both her mother and stepfather, preparing to leave for home. As she starts to enter the car, Lauren notices Daniel across the street, waiting to say goodbye to her. Her mother starts to object, but her stepfather tells Lauren to go ahead, charmed with the boy who punched the man who brazenly flirted with his wife, defending the honor of her daughter. She and Daniel share a final kiss, pledging not to become "like everybody else." Julius is sitting on a nearby bench, and Lauren bids him a tearful farewell. She runs back to the car, and Daniel follows it as it leaves, him and Lauren waving at each other.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Laurence Olivier as Julius Edmund Santorin
- Diane Lane as Lauren King
- Thelonious Bernard as Daniel Michon
- Arthur Hill as Richard King
- Sally Kellerman as Kay King
- Broderick Crawford as Himself
- David Dukes as George de Marco
- Andrew Duncan as Bob Duryea
- Claudette Sutherland as Janet Duryea
- Graham Fletcher-Cook as Londet
- Ashby Semple as Natalie Woodstein
- Claude Brosset as Michel Michon
- Jacques Maury as Inspector Leclerc
- Anna Massey as Ms Siegel
- Peter Maloney as Martin
- Dominique Lavanant as Mme. Cormier
- Mike Marshall as 1st Assistant Director
- Michel Bardinet as French Ambassador
- David Gabison as French Representative
- Isabel Duby as Monique
- Geoffrey Carey as Make-up Man
- John Pepper as 2nd Assistant Director
- Denise Glaser as Woman Critic
- Jeanne Herviale as Woman in Metro Station
- Carlo Lastricati as Tour Guide
- Judith Mullen as Richard's Secretary
- Philippe Brigaud as Theater Manager
- Lucienne Legrand as Theater Cashier
Production[edit | edit source]
Reception[edit | edit source]
Following its initial release in 1979, the film received mixed reviews, with some being quite negative. Though the reviews have gone on to become generally positive over time. In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby described the film as "so ponderous it seems almost mean spirited. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie about boorish American tourists and felt sorry for the tourists—which is one of Mr. Hill's achievements here. I'm sure nothing mean-spirited was intended, but such is the film's effect. This may be the main hazard when one sets out to make a film so relentlessly sweet-tempered that it winds up—like Pollyana—alienating everyone not similarly affected."
In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film only two stars, writing that the film "gives us two movie kids in a story so unlikely I assume it was intended as a fantasy. And it gives us dialog and situations so relentlessly cute we want to squirm."
Following its release on video and DVD, the film gained stronger critical support. In his review for DVD Movie Guide, David Williams called the film "one of those gems that doesn't seem too great on the surface, but manages to lift your spirits in such a way that when it's over, it makes you glad you ignored your initial feelings and checked it out anyway." Williams applauded the performances as "engaging from top-to-bottom", singling out Olivier's portrayal of Julius, the mischievous escort and matchmaker.
In his review in DVD Movie Guide, John J. Puccio wrote, "It's a lovely tale of pure and innocent love and the lengths that people involved in such a love will go to in their desire to ensure it. The movie can hardly fail to please even the most jaded audiences."
In his review in DVD Talk, David Langdon concluded, "A Little Romance fits into that category we might call the children's film for adults. It's smart, well written, acted and directed. If anything it will be remembered as Diane Lane's first movie and one of Laurence Olivier's last. The DVD is above average in all categories except audio but it is worth a look."
Accolades[edit | edit source]
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Related Media[edit | edit source]
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