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Rome Adventure

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Rome Adventure

Image credit: Rome Adventure, 1962.

I’ll say one thing about Troy Donahue—he’s a unique kisser. Whether it’s on the beaches of California in A Summer Place, or in a carriage pulled through the streets of Rome in this week’s Rome Adventure (Disc/Download), he pretty much swallows his partner whole. I can’t know how it feels to be on the receiving end of one of these melodramatic lip attacks, but if Suzanne Pleshette married him three years after filming wrapped, it must have left an impression. She said arrivederci soon after the wedding vows, but… we won’t get into that.

If you love Roman Holiday and Three Coins in the Fountain, I urge you to check out this romantic drama. Suzanne Pleshette stars as a disgraced librarian Prudence (she rec’d a romance novel to teens! The horror!!!) who flees to Rome in search of love and La Dolce Vita. She lands a sweet gig in an American bookshop just off the Piazza Navona, owned by a funny, sexy ex-pat (Constance Ford in a MUCH more appealing role than the racist mom in A Summer Place). There’s even a cute bookshop dog! Prudence falls for a charming American architect (Donahue), already under the spell of she-wolf Angie Dickinson and her fabulous silk evening gowns. Meanwhile an older man Prudence met on a cruise is still trying to seduce her, and a square student (who bears a remarkable resemblance to Beto O’Rourke) carries an unrequited torch. Let’s just say, this librarian goes looking for love and gets more than she bargained for.

The movie makes a bold case for the Italian aperitif Strega, a new-to-me spirit. As Prudence likes to say, it “turns the world gold”. While watching Rome Adventure, I recommend drinking this Strega Sunrise.

Strega Sunrise

2 oz Strega

1 oz Fresh orange juice

1 oz Lime Juice

1 tsp honey syrup

Orange Bitters

2 oz Club Soda

Orange Twist

Combine first five ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda, and a twist of orange.

Strega Sunrise

If you want to make your viewing even more fun, take a drink every time someone says “Arrivederci!”  And now you’ll have to excuse me—I’m off to go fantasize about working in a Roman bookshop with a saucy broad and her sheepdog. Cheers!

Cry-Baby

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures, Cry-Baby, 1990

Image Credit: Universal Pictures, Cry-Baby, 1990

I recently finished reading John Waters’ latest book Carsick, detailing his experiences hitchhiking across the US. It was difficult to finish even one page of the book without laughing, and it reminded me of what a brilliant comic mind this man has. To that end, I’m featuring one of my favorite John Waters films this week, Cry-Baby (DVD/Download).

Cry-Baby is a spoof of 1950’s greaser movies, wherein the “Drapes” face off against the “Squares”. Johnny Depp plays Cry-Baby Walker, the hot young leader of the Drapes, who falls for Allison Vernon-Williams, a good girl yearning to be bad. In a great meet-cute scene, they lock eyes over polio vaccinations in the school gym. Imagine! People got immunized and it was no big deal! (I digress). Cry-Baby is populated by B-and C-list stars galore- Traci Lords! Patty Hearst! Troy Donahue! Iggy Pop! Ricki Lake!

Johnny Depp reportedly took the role of Cry-Baby (one of his first film roles following 21 Jump Street) in order to poke fun at his teen-idol image. Well, mission accomplished. As Cry-Baby he’s sexy and funny and just the right amount of campy. It’s so refreshing to see him without weird facial hair or feathers or a Colleen Atwood costume. Watching Cry-Baby has reminded me that not only do I want John Waters to make another film, but I want Johnny Depp to be in it playing an actual human being. A stretch at this point, I know.

My drink this week has to be equal parts hillbilly and 50’s fabulous in order to truly do the film justice. I’m sure Uncle Belvedere makes his own moonshine, but I have to get by with the store-bought stuff. Of course this has to be served in a mason jar (which I assume was the stemware-of-choice at Turkey Point). While watching Cry-Baby, I recommend drinking a Lonely Teardrop.

Lonely Teardrop

½ oz Vodka

½ oz Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz Limoncello

2 oz Sprite

3 oz club soda

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Lemon slice

Mix together the spirits and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a mason jar filled with ice. Top with Sprite and club soda. Garnish with rosemary and lemon.

lonely teardrop

Not only does Cry-Baby have a fantastic cast and script, but the costumes are stellar as well. I admit to having quite a few “square” dresses currently hanging in my closet (thanks Mod Cloth!). But when Allison Vernon-Williams puts on those tight “hysterectomy pants” and makes out with Cry-Baby, I find myself wanting my own bad-girl beauty makeover. Just please don’t let Hatchet Face do my make-up. There are…. no words to describe that face. Cheers!

A Summer Place

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Image Credit Warner Bros, 1959, A Summer Place

Image Credit Warner Bros, 1959, A Summer Place

True confession: I’m a sucker for any movie with Sandra Dee in an A-line dress. I’m also a sucker for melodramatic movies of the 1950’s, the type that would have been playing at a drive-in movie theater. This week’s Cinema Sips pick, A Summer Place (DVD) fulfills both criteria. I must have caught this movie on AMC back in high school (when they actually showed classic films) and from the moment I laid eyes on Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue as two star-crossed teenage lovers, I was hooked. Throw in cardigan sweaters and preppy boat shoes, and well, we may as well just call this a perfect movie.

A Summer Place is about two teens who find themselves together on an exclusive New England resort called Pine Island for the summer. Troy Donahue plays the son of the innkeeper, and Sandra Dee is the daughter of a family that comes to stay. As it turns out, Sandra Dee’s father (played by Richard Egan) used to be involved with Troy Donahue’s mother (played by Dorothy McGuire) when he was the lifeguard there as a teenager, and even though each married other people, they never forgot each other. As you can guess, romance rekindles between the parents as it blossoms among their children. The writers of this film’s script make the ensuing adultery pretty convenient, since she’s married to an alcoholic and he’s married to a racist. OF COURSE they’d have affairs. Admittedly, it’s a soap opera, complete with wonderfully melodramatic music, kooky supporting characters, and hysterical overacting. But the scenes of ocean waves crashing against craggily rocks, afternoon sailing, and a cocktail hour where everyone dresses up make me swoon. It’s what summer should be.

This film was an easy choice for Cinema Sips because it features some great drunk scene-stealing by actor Arthur Kennedy. He tells it like it is, even when “it” happens to be that his wife is sleeping with her former lover again. He’s an alcoholic for sure, but a dignified alcoholic. None of those bar fights or crying meltdowns that movie alcoholics are traditionally known for. So in his honor, I’m mixing up a great standby WASPy summer drink- a Pine Island Gin & Tonic.

Pine Island Gin & Tonic

1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin

3 oz Fever Tree tonic water

Lime wedge

Sprig of Rosemary for garnish

Build ingredients in a tumbler full of ice. Squeeze a bit of the lime juice into the glass, stir, and garnish with rosemary and lime wedge.

Pine-Island-Gin-and-Tonic

I’m adding a sprig of rosemary to this because it mirrors the pine trees surrounding the inn. And it fancies up a drink that, admittedly, is pretty simple. But in summertime, when it’s hot out, this is the drink that I make more often than anything else. It’s easy, delicious, and really hits the spot. Be sure to use the best ingredients though, because when you’ve got a simple drink, it’s abundantly clear when you’ve skimped on quality. I like to fix one of these and imagine I’m sitting at Richard Egan’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home bar, as I listen to the ocean waves crashing and watch Troy Donahue stroll down the beach in his short shorts and cardigan sweater.   Très jolie, as the French would say. Très, très jolie. Cheers!