Within this charming pictorial study weaves a frothy, frank and irreverent comedy that stumbles, sputters and stammers when its stretches its one basic gag – American puritanism vs Italian moral abandon – too far, but partially restores its equilibrium with a parting shot of irony.
The screenplay, from a story by Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies, deposits Philadelphia lawyer Clark Gable in Naples to settle the estate of his brother, recently deceased via an auto accident. What Gable discovers is that his brother’s extra-legal spouse also perished in the mishap, leaving their 10-year-old son (Marietto) in the care of the wife’s sister (Sophia Loren). While debating (in and out of court and courtship) the relative merits of a Philadelphia and Neapolitan environment for the child, Gable and Loren fall in love.
Both the script and Melville Shavelson’s direction try too hard to make the film up- roariously funny and risque. When the wit flows naturally, it is a delight; when it strains, it pains.
Gable and Loren are a surprisingly effective and compatible comedy pair. The latter, more voluptuous then ever, is naturally at home in her native surroundings and gives a vigorous and amusing performance, even tackling a couple of nightclub song-and-dance routines with gusto.
Vittorio De Sica is suave as Gable’s roving-eyed, pulchritudinously-influenced Italian attorney. Young Marietto, as the orphaned waif who smokes ciggies, guzzles wine and ogles the babes, is occasionally the victim of director’s apparent desire to overpower the spectator with overly cute postures and smart quips.
1960: Nomination: Best Color Art Direction