Gina And Rock Know How To Dance In ‘Come September,’ Available Now On Blu-Ray

by Rachel Bellwoar

Lisa (Gina Lollobrigida) and Robert (Rock Hudson) have an arrangement. Every September they meet-up at Robert’s villa to spend the month together. It’s been that way for years. Robert Mulligan’s Come September is about what happens when Robert changes the plan. Instead of waiting until September, he calls Lisa up in July and expects her to join him… which she does, almost immediately. What Robert doesn’t realize, though (and in true, romantic comedy fashion), is that Lisa was about to get married – she answers the phone in her wedding dress – and of all the years for him to call off-season, he couldn’t have timed things better.

Come September is a film along the lines of The Reluctant Debutante and Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation –wholesome, comfort food, if a little old-fashioned sometimes, except Come September has even more of a conservative bent than the other two. It’s like the film felt it had to offset its Italian setting with a very strict morality code. While one might assume Lollobrigida’s casting came with the film being shot in Italy, that’s actually not true. According to film historian, David Del Valle, in his commentary (where he’s joined by filmmaker, David DeCoteau, though DeCoteau seems to be watching the film for the first time during the commentary) Marilyn Monroe was originally considered for the part, but Mulligan changed directions after talking to director, John Huston (who had worked with Monroe on The Misfits).

Hudson definitely has the bigger role, as the writing for Lisa leans a lot on Italian stereotypes. Robert, meanwhile, turns out to be a bit of a prude. Lisa’s marriage wasn’t the only thing disrupted by his sudden phone call. As Robert discovers, when he pockets a match book for a hotel called La Dolce Vista, that’s only closed in September, his major-domo, Maurice (Walter Slezak) had been running a hotel in his villa and there are guests staying there when he arrives.

Maurice is a curious character, because while Robert is completely in the right, he’s also a selfish millionaire, and while that doesn’t make Maurice’s behavior any less ethical, somehow, in the film, it does? Or at least he’s allowed to get away with being unapologetic about his actions [also, fun fact: the villa used in the film was owned by actor, Rex Harrison].

Robert wants the guests kicked out immediately, but when the chaperone (Brenda de Banzie) for a group of girls, led by Sandra Dee, gets hurt, Robert feels it’s his duty to step in and make sure the girls don’t get involved with a group of boys that have been skulking around the property. Led by Bobby Darin (and also featuring a young Joel Grey), the generational warfare that ensues is entertaining (as are the language barrier jokes that usually make Robert the butt of the joke), but some of the visual gags that rely on repetition are too random and no film needs a parakeet named Cedric.

Given that Come September came out after Pillow Talk, there are some barefaced attempts to cash in on that film’s popularity and while the film avoids introducing a love triangle by having Lisa call off her wedding right away, there’s still an obsession with appearances that gets old. Come September is a little too buttoned up for its own good, but that doesn’t make it unenjoyable.

Come September is available on Blu-Ray now from Kino Lorber.

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