Come September (1964)

After an eye candy post, it’s time for an eye candy film. This is the sort of film that’s truly beautiful to look at (a prime example of the genre is the Deborah Kerr-Rossano Brazzi flick Count Your Blessings, otherwise avoidable but visually unbeatable). Come September’s like that too: much about it is very soothing to the eyes.
The hero, wealthy Robert Taylor (Rock Hudson) is, for instance, gloriously good-looking:

Robert Talbot drives down to his Italian villa...

His picturesque Italian villa, which he visits only every September when he’s in Italy, has a fine view.

Through a lovely seaside...

His Italian girlfriend, Lisa Fellini (Gina Lollobrigida), whom he also sees only every September, is equally easy on the eye. a beautiful girlfriend

But this year, Robert’s broken with tradition and landed up in Italy in July. And if that’s a surprise for the people in his life, they’ve got surprises in store for him too. Lisa has met a wishy-washy Englishman called Spencer (Ronald Howard) and is getting ready to marry him…

Who's found another beau

…And Robert’s major domo at the villa, Maurice Clavell (Walter Slezak) is on the sly running Robert’s villa as the Hotel La Dolce Vista. Right now, a bunch of teenaged American girls zealously chaperoned by a Margaret Allison (Brenda de Banzie) are staying at the ‘hotel’.

Maurice plays owner/manager of the Hotel La Dolce Vista

Robert’s arrival puts a spanner in everybody’s works. He talks to Lisa and, without discovering that she was getting married, persuades her to come to the villa…

Robert persuades Lisa to come to the villa

…while he throws a fit when he hears Maurice’s story of the ‘poor girls’ who’ve been marooned in this place and to whom Maurice has kindly offered accommodation for the night.

Maurice explains things to Robert

To Margaret (whom he fancies), Maurice accounts for Robert’s high-handed behaviour in the ‘hotel’ by concocting a story of how the Talbots once owned this villa, but bankruptcy made them sell it to him, Maurice. Maurice’s story of Robert’s being concussed during the Second World War and believing that he still owns the villa, catches the attention of pretty Sandy (Sandra Dee). Sandy’s majoring in psychology, and decides this is a fine opportunity to do some psychoanalysis…

Sandy plays psychiatrist

In the course of which it turns out that Maurice has been bamboozling all and sundry. Robert is furious and gives him the boot, but lets him stay on till Margaret and the girls have left the next morning.

Robert fires Maurice

The beautiful Lisa arrives and is immediately subjected to the scrutiny of the hawk-eyed Margaret, who is sceptical about Maurice’s explanation that Lisa’s a schoolteacher. That night, Margaret’s checking of each room (including the one Lisa has been made to share with Sandy) and Margaret’s prowling round the corridors means that Lisa isn’t able to sneak onto the terrace for a rendezvous with Robert.

Margaret intercepts Lisa

Robert is understandably relieved to see the lot leaving the next morning—but they don’t, because Margaret slips and ends up in hospital. The girls now have to stay on until she’s back on her feet.

Margaret lands in hospital

And guess what? A quartet of American freshmen, headed by arrogant medical student Tony (Bobby Darin) happens to come across the girls. And, red-blooded youths that they are, they immediately decide to set up their tent on a patch of grass below Talbot’s villa.

Four young men fall for the girls

Poof! goes Robert and Lisa’s chance for some privacy. Suddenly the villa is crawling, inside and out, with adolescents with raging hormones. And to Lisa’s surprise, the person who takes on the role of chaperone is none other than—Robert!

Robert appoints himself chaperon

That, believe me, is actually it. The rest of the film can fit into a couple of sentences.

What I liked about this film:
As I said, the beauty of it all. The villa, the countryside, the Mediterranean—and the lead pair. Yum.

Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida in Come September

The music. I had to include this. I grew up listening to the Come September theme (it was extremely popular with just about every Indian wedding band in the good old days), and I actually love it despite all those screechy and tuneless renditions I heard over the years. There’s also Bobby Darin’s Multiplication, that’s the name of the game. I heard it occasionally on radio when I was a kid, but never knew it was from Come September. Darin, by the way, composed the music for both Multiplication… and the theme.

The repartee between Slezak and Hudson: these guys are funny! They get the best lines, and there’s a funny scene involving the two of them and a smoke-belching truckful of geese.

Walter Slezak and Rock Hudson in Come September

What I didn’t like about this film:
It just didn’t work.
I see Rock Hudson and I think screwball comedy, but the comedy falls flat here. Gina Lollobrigida, though luscious, is screechy through much of the film. Bobby Darin and crew’s witless attempts to foil Hudson’s chaperoning are unfunny. About the only humorous bits I could find are Slezak’s on-his-feet thinking, and the (alas, short) interactions between him and Hudson.
The situations are trite, the lines usually not peppy enough, the humour pretty sexist in parts. Compare this to the hilarious Hudson starrer Man’s Favourite Sport, and Come September falls flatter than a pancake.
And the ‘message’ that begins to emerge towards the second half? It simply deals the death blow to this film.

All right if you want an eyeful and the occasional giggle. Do not expect anything beyond that.

Little bit of trivia:
Whatever it did or didn’t achieve, Come September sure inspired Bollywood. The plot element of a major domo converting a mansion into a hotel in the absence of its wealthy owner was used in at least two films: Mere Sanam (1965) and Kashmir ki Kali (1964) and the Come September theme was used in the songs Dole dole dil dole (Baazi, 1995) and Nazren mili dil dhadka (Raja, also 1995).

36 thoughts on “Come September (1964)

  1. Oooh, we had the come September song on 45 rpm record…and I too remember it from all those wedding bands!!
    Sigh…good old days.

    IMHO, Rock Hudson wasn’t that good a comic actor (always imagine Cary Grant would do them so much better) but he was just so good to look at!

    I think I have seen this film, but it was so silly that it didn’t really register enough to be remembered.


  2. Aww I adore this film – sexist ideas, trite humor, silly teenagers and all! Its so typically a 60s comedy with all the 60s elements and beautiful people in it, that I forgive the sexism. And the comedy still works for me after several re-watches and a lifetime of Bollywood re-runs. :-D

    This one was also remade as Ek Baar Kaho – starring Naveen Nischol and Shabana Azmi. The comedy is pretty toned down (and very lame since Jagdeep plays the major-domo) but the romance is melt-into-a-puddle sweet. If you havent seen it already, check it out on Rajshri.


  3. bawa: Yes, I always associate Come September, Tequila and Brazil with Indian weddings! Also, waaaay back, this song called Jeejaji jeejaji honewaala jeejaji
    This wasn’t one of Rock Hudson’s better efforts – I always think the script did him in! But he’s actually very good in Send Me No Flowers and Man’s Favourite Sport. Good comedies, both.

    bollyviewer: To each his (or her) own! And you know, I somehow feel that this sort of a plot, in a 60’s Hindi film, might just have managed to pull it off. Am off to check out Ek Baar Kaho at once (just knowing that Naveen Nischol is in it is enough for me!) Thank you for the tip. :-)


  4. The chaperone injuring herself and being forced to stay on is in Mere Sanam too!

    And I might need to see Ek Baar Kaho although I am not a huge fan of Navin Nischol :-)


  5. “The chaperone injuring herself and being forced to stay on is in Mere Sanam too!”

    How embarrassing. Couldn’t these guys be original about anything?

    I tried watching Ek Baar Kaho on, but I think the bandwidth was awful: it kept getting timed out and I gave up after the credits hung around for an hour. Will wait for the DVD/VCD.
    I’m not much of a Navin Nischol fan either, but I think he looks very attractive in this song from Parwana. Lovely music too, and beautifully sung by Kishore. If only the heroine had been someone other than Yogita Bali (Tanuja? Mumtaz?) – she’s so irritatingly bovine.


  6. Sounds like fun!

    What you said about the theme music is true for me as well. the only thng is that after some time it started irritating me!

    ‘bovine Yogeeta Bali’
    *ggggggg* Does your mother offer classes for learning such metaphors and similies? I would join!

    BTW I like the no nonsense air of Gina! She is so Italian!
    I think in Europe everybody was making films based in Italy in the 60s. Mostly the Germans! It was for them what Kashmir for the Indians in that decade!


  7. Come September is fun, though I don’t think it’s anywhere close to some of the other comedies that were being at the time. And yes, Europe – especially Italy and France – seem to have been favourite haunts for filmmakers in the 60’s. Some of the other great films I recall set in the region are Gigi, An American in Paris, Roman Holiday, Charade, Summertime and Three Coins in the Fountain – though I have to confess I haven’t seen all of these yet. Didn’t know that the Germans were setting a lot of films in the area too, though I know we tried our best! Remember An Evening in Paris? ;-)

    Oh, my mother’s a whiz when it comes to superb adjectives! I remember her watching Manoj Kumar in one of his later films (I think it was Shor) where he was really hamming it, and looking awful with that curling upper lip and disdainful look. Mum’s comment was memorable: “Why does he look so constipated?” It cracked us up, because the scene was supposed to be soooo serious! :-))


  8. Your mother is a hit! (this a german way to say she is a whiz!).
    She can’t selfishly guard this talent of hers. This should be taught to others. She has to start classes for it. Just imagine, what a boon she would be for millions of humourless people!

    Or at least she should start a blog! I will be one loyal-devoted visitor!
    Give my love to her!

    *Didn’t know that the Germans…*
    They were just like the indian 60s films with lots of songs (yes, hero driving while crooning a song) and lots of fluff (dumb heroines falling in love with the hero after beating up the hero’s sidekick) and entirely lacking in the depth department. But hardly as entertaining like our apna Shammi Kapoor and Joy Mukherjee films.


  9. Heheheh… :-)) I must tell my Mum, she’ll be thrilled to know. She has an awesome sense of humour, even if I (a devoted daughter) say so. No blogs – she considers herself very tech-unsavvy (untech-savvy? Whatever)!

    Oh wow, German films sound like fun, I must try to find some if I can. Anything with lots of songs and fluff is sure to be a hit with me, even if it doesn’t have much depth. The occasional shallow film is fine. ;-)


  10. My Austrian (ex) brother-in-law hates Bollywood films because he says they remind him of awful German and Austrian kitschy films from the 60s :-D But he also loooovvves long, self-indulgent boring films where nothing happens except a bunch of people sit around smoking and being angsty and occasionally sleep with each other.


  11. Greta, thank heavens he’s an ex. ;-))

    Anybody who “loooovvves long, self-indulgent boring films where nothing happens except a bunch of people sit around smoking and being angsty and occasionally sleep with each other.” is better not being related to!

    I am trying to trawl the Net and try finding some of these 60’s German films… they sound tempting. :)


  12. Well, with all this international cinema coming up, I shall have to put a word in for my local. There always seem to have been two main strands of Spanish cinema: a very shallow, musical, stupid comic type plot one + kitschy romances, and some brilliant, brilliant cinema that is Not People Sitting Around Discussing the Meaning of Life one…they are easy to watch and have amazing story-telling.

    There were singing child and adult stars in the former but the latter has some “MUST SEE” films that I myself first saw in a retrospective of Spanish cinema in London.

    Titles that I whole heartedly recommend everyone to pick from their local library and watch include:

    Eloise is Under the Almond Tree, The Apartment, Welcome Mr. Marshall (a masterpiece if there ever was one), The Executioner or Hangman (WOW!), Viridiana, Thursdays:Miracle, The Dynamiters, My Dear Lady, Placido, The Aunt Tula (La Tía Tula), Raise Ravens, and if you understand Spanish “The Revenge of Don Mendo) -as it is in verse..

    there is always a delicious black humour underlying all these films: the strict moral code and censorship only seemed to have brought out the director’s creativeness in pulling a fast one over the censors!


  13. bawa, thank you so much for this list! I must try to find these. Unfortunately, I don’t understand Spanish, but subtitles are fine with me!
    I remember, when I was a kid, Doordarshan used to show international films – mostly subtitled, though I seem to recall some that were dubbed in English – and a lot of them were especially good. There was one Chinese film about a bunch of little children… orphans, I think, and about their efforts to find better lives for themselves. I don’t remember what it was called or even what the story was; all I remember is that my mum, my sister and I sat and cried through most of it.


  14. I recently got lent a Chinese film called “Together” (2002).
    Although the story is one that has often been filmed (brilliant child + eccentric-overlooked brilliant professor = softening and a happy ending), it was nevertheless well-done and thoroughly enjoyable and an insight into everyday life in China for ordinary people.

    If you come across it, watch it, and if you come across any of the Spanish films I listed, I shall be looking forward to your opinion!!


  15. I remember a chinese movie, which was shown on DD sometimes in the mid 80s. it was such a beautiful film. I just didn’t want it to end. it was about a woman and lots of children


  16. BTW, I think you will hate me, cause I also “loooovvves long, self-indulgent boring films where nothing happens except a bunch of people sit around smoking and being angsty and occasionally sleep with each other”.

    But please don’t!


  17. bawa: Yes, I’ve begun my quest for those Spanish films, and if I come across any of them I’ll definitely post reviews!

    harvey: I think we’re talking about the same Chinese film. There was this scene in it where there’s this little kid looking out from between the leaves of a partially-closed door… it was superb. I think the name was something to do with a brook. May be wrong, though.

    Ah, so you’re one of the `boring-smoking-angst-ridden-sleeping around film’ fan club! Never mind, we won’t hold it against you as long as you also love completely escapist stuff like the sort I like to see! ;-)


  18. Would you send me an e-mail to my address?

    Am I right in thinking you live in India? Am coming to Delhi soon, and if I can pick a couple of these cheap here in some sale (with eng subtitles!!!) I could post them to you easily.


  19. harvey, I don’t remember at all. :-(
    As you so rightly say, it’s the feeling that remains; the only thing I remember is the scene of that kid looking out from the door… I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it.


  20. harvey : I think this movie is called Miao-Miao (1982). Be forewarned there is one more movie with same name from Tiwan with some lesbo content… 1982 one is about a teacher called Han-Miao-Miao trying her first job with a bunch of 10 year old children.


  21. Hi,
    Superb observations. even i thought Liza was a bit too loud and hyper-active. Who stars with Rock Hudson in Man’s Favourite Sport? I want to see that film now :)


  22. I love Come September, I thought everyone was delightful, it is one of my great memories and films of the sixties I still enjoy it today. I thought Rock Hudson was great and the whole plot great, but of course I was a teenager back then.


  23. I cannot believe that you think this movie “didn’t work”!!!!! “. . . an eyeful and occasional giggle . . .” Gina was “screechy”? What did you expect from this movie? Of all the movies of this genre from the early 1960’s, this by far is one of the best! The storyline may not be original, but it is well done, amusing and fun. Walter Slezak was truly wonderful. It was nice for a change, to see him as a likeable character instead of a villain. Send Me No Flowers was the worst of the Rock Hudson/Doris Day collaborations and there was no chemistry between Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss in Man’s Favorite Sport. If you want to see chemistry, check out the nightclub scene in Come September . . . Rock and Gina were terrific together!


    • It’s called a ‘different point of view’. Just because somebody didn’t really care for a film you adore so much doesn’t mean they need to have their head examined, as you seem to suggest.


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