THE STORY OF THREE LOVES (1953)
Article #1615 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-16-2005
Posting Date: 1-13-2006
Directed by Vincente Minnelli and Gottfried Reinhardt
Featuring Pier Angeli, Ethel Barrymore, Leslie Caron
Three people aboard an ocean liner muse about the loves of their lives.
What we have here is another anthology of stories, only one of which has fantastic content. The quality is somewhat variable, though I feel that it makes its progression from the weakest story to the strongest.
The first story involves a ballet dancer who is forced to quit dancing due to her heart condition. She then meets a ballet impressario who is smitten with her and wants her to dance, unaware of her condition. This segment features strong performances from all concerned, but at heart the story is straightforward tearjerker. It also suffers from having been seen by me too soon after having seen the superior THE RED SHOES, with which it shares some of its themes, a similarity only increased by the presence once again of Moira Shearer as the ballet dancer. Ultimately, the predictability of the story blunts its impact.
The second story is the most light-hearted. Here, a young boy who hates his governess, because he’s tired of having to learn French from her and of having to listen to her recite love poetry, meets a witch who gives him the power to turn into a full-grown man for a short while. In some ways, this segment is something of a gender-reversed version of “Cinderella”. The performances are once again quite good, and the story has some surprises. The only real problem I have with it is the presence of Ricky Nelson as the young version of Tommy; it’s not his performance that is at fault, but his voice was just shrill enough to start hurting my ears before this segment was finished.
It’s the final segment of the movie that’s the real gem. It’s the story of a disgraced trapeze artist hoping to make a comeback who hooks up with a melancholy, suicidal and guilt-ridden woman. Both Pier Angeli and Kirk Douglas are excellent in this story, which is the darkest of the bunch and shot through with real tragedy. This segment benefits enormously from Douglas’s athletic performance during the trapeze sequences, and my favorite part of the movie is when Douglas trains Angeli on the tricks of the trapeze trade, a sequence which manages to be effectively detailed and realistic. I also like the surprise ending of this one, though others may not. The cast also features Farley Granger, James Mason, Agnes Moorehead, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Richard Anderson.