The summer vacation fling is a rite of passage – even if you’re a middle-aged tourist, like Katharine Hepburn (in a twist on the spinster roles she played throughout the 1950s). In this adaptation of the Broadway play The Time of the Cuckoo, Hepburn is visiting Venice when she falls for local charmer Renato, (future South Pacific star Rossano Brazzi).
Alas, like so many summer flings, this one can’t last. In one of the few David Lean movies that’s not of epic length, the master of the exotic locale does for Italy what he would do for the desert in Lawrence of Arabia and the Russian tundra in Dr. Zhivago: imbue the very landscape with wonder and portent.
Indeed, the British director liked Venice so much he acquired a second home there. Hepburn, not so much; although she considered the movie some of her best work, she had also insisted on performing her own fall into one of the canals. The water left her with a chronic eye infection.