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  Come September Just Ask Rock
Year: 1961
Director: Robert Mulligan
Stars: Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, Walter Slezak, Brenda de Banzie, Joel Grey, Rossana Rory, Ronald Howard, Ronnie Haran, Chris Seitz, Cindy Conroy, Joan Freeman, Nancy Anderson, Michael Eden, Claudia Brack
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Robert (Rock Hudson) is a wealthy American businessman who spends one month of the year at his villa in Italy, usually in the company of his occasional fling Lisa (Gina Lollobrigida), but he never really considers settling down with her seriously, which is why she is planning to get married to a well-off Englishman. However, he just has to call her up before making an earlier than is customary jaunt to his villa and she melts at the sound of his voice, ready to drop everything and join him there. What Robert doesn't know is that his home away from home is being used as a hotel by the major-domo (Walter Slezak)...

Hudson was at the height of his sex comedy powers when he made Come September, although what we understand by that genre now is far from what it meant then, so there was no suggestion that we would see any naked flesh or hear any coarse language as it was all relayed through innuendo and the audience reading enough into the situation to understand what was really going on. Hudson was a past master at this type of thing, and could convey his manly charms with a wink and a grin, although here there were three acts to the storyline, and the first and third of those were designed to discomfit his character.

Firstly because when he arrives at his villa, he finds that it is playing host to a gaggle of teenage girls and their guardian (Brenda de Banzie), with Slezak's steward making up excuses that he was forced to welcome them in when they didn't have anywhere else to go. Robert is not happy, but after a while is acting as a guardian himself when a group of young American men show up in their jeep and invite themselves in - he doesn't know they had reservations, and now it's safe to say he has reservations of a different kind. So what you have is the curious sight of Rock Hudson offering agony aunt style advice to the girls while proving himself superhuman in surpassing the younger men.

This leads to scenes of everyone going out for a motorscooter ride and Robert outlasting the chaps physically and mentally, then come the evening drinking them under the table (no, not like that) to ensure they won't get up to any mischief with the ladies. It's impossible now to watch Rock's romantic image without being aware of what an enormous put-on the whole thing was, and knowing that he might have been happier seducing the bright new star Bobby Darin than La Lollo is cause for some amusement. That's right, Darin was trying to bolster his music career with an acting one, and receiving a cautious welcome, though he never really broke through to the big time in film like his new love Sandra Dee did.

Sandra was in this too, this was where they met; she played one of the teens (the imaginatively-named Sandy), and meant to contrast the older generation as represented by Rock and Gina with the younger one, though mainly present as someone for them to cluck over and offer such observations as a girl's bedroom is like a bridal gown, best kept secret from a boy until the big day, that sort of thing. That last act sees Robert and Lisa suffering troubles of their own, as their relationship breaks down mainly for the farcical possibilities it offers, but also making them seem as if they didn't know what they were talking about when they were dispensing all that advice. Taking down the leads a peg or two doesn't unfortunately conjure up much in the way of laughs, and when the funniest performer in the movie is a drunken budgie then something's gone awry in the wit department, but it's adequate and goodlooking enough for a timewaster. Music by Hans J. Salter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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