In this sparkling comedy---which is Rock Hudson's first independent film venture under his 7 Pictures Corporation banner---"President" Hudson inadvertently played cupid by casting Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin as young lovers. Their first explosive meeting was similar to their relationship in the story. Shaking Sandra's hand, the cocky singer said: "As I live and breathe---Tuesday Weld! I enjoy your pictures so much." The eighteen-year-old blonde cracked back: "And I always buy all your records---Fabian." The following day, a dozen yellow roses---with no card attached---arrived at her hotel suite. They arrived every day for ten weeks---up until the time Sandra and Bobby eloped! . . .
Due to Rock's calm, fun-loving disposition, Gina Lollobrigida---who was so happy to be back in comedy---never resorted to arguments, stubbornness, or temperament. The beautiful Italian star called him "Rocketto." His description of her---"Like Wow!". . .
The entire picture was shot in and around Gina's beloved Rome. She lived in her posh villa on the old Appian Way. Her favorite pastime was going to the ancient Colosseum and feeding the great packs of cats that gather at night. She invited Rock to witness the awesome sight. And she took delight in showing cast members Walter Slezak, Joel Grey, Brenda De Banzie and Ronald Howard---son of the late film star---the mellowed side of her city. . . .
Director Robert Mulligan celebrated his 35th birthday by beating his brains out! For one hysterical scene, Rock had to drive a truck loaded ten feet high with crates of live geese. During each take, the same lovesick goose stuck it's long neck throught the crate and kissed Rock smack on the mouth. After hours in the broiling sun, trying to get the scene, the exasperated director shouted: "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's an overemotional goose. Get me one that isn't sex-starved!". . .
Another long sequence called for Rock to engage in a scooter chase, with Gina sitting behind him. They spent weeks on a Lambretta, learning how to manipulate the putt-putt. Gina also had to drive a yellow jeep, hell-bent. She not only had never driven, she didn't have a license to drive anything. Her Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce always followed close behind the four-cylinder puddle jumper, to make sure she got back safe and sound. . . .
During production, the Variety Clubs of America named Bobby Darin "Personality of the Year." The twenty-four-year-old singer---who makes his screen debut in this film---was so touched by this great show biz honor, he dropped his self-defense attitude and came close to tears. . . .
When Bobby signed his new multiple contract with U-I, he insisted that he would not do musical numbers. But when he kept humming a captivating tune, Rock talked him into writing lyrics, too, and singing it to Sandra in the bistro scene. Sandra has referred to it as "Our Song," ever since. . . .
On his two days off, Rock spent a small fortune buying alligator shoes and leather goods at world-famous Girccis, on Via Condotti. He went wild over the turtleneck sweaters in Portofino on the Italian Riviera, and bought a knit coat for his mother. . . .
Fifteen members of the carabinieri had to be hired to protect Gina when she went shopping. Hundreds of people invariably mobbed her. In the picture, she wore twent-two changes---from bathing suit to wedding gown. . . .
About being president of his own filmery, Rock declared: "I don't want to work at being president; maybe ten years from now I'll direct. I simply want to entertain people. But I don't think I'm cut out for more than one job at a time. It's better to excell in one, than be merely competent in many!" Rock, incidentally, was the first to suspect the screen romance between Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin was for real. Currently speaking, Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Darin are expecting their first bambino!
(Thanks to Laura Rice for this article)
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