Classic Film Guide

Light in the Piazza (1962)

Directed by Oscar winning cinematographer Guy Green (Great Expectations (1946)), and with a screenplay from Julius Epstein (Casablanca (1942)), this average drama features a recognizable cast and tear-jerking story. Olivia de Havilland plays a mother whose beautiful twenty something daughter, played by the perfect actress for the part - Yvette Mimieux, is emotionally immature. While vacationing in Italy, the two are pestered by a young local, played curiously by George Hamilton. Hamilton's character is naturally attracted to Mimieux’s innocence and naivete and wants to introduce them to his family. His father, played by Rosanno Brazzi, is of course attracted to de Havilland and, being Italian, is unencumbered by the fact that they are both married. De Havilland’s husband, a busy businessman played by Barry Sullivan, joins his family in Italy and we learn that their daughter is mentally retarded, permanently 12 years old. He is aghast that his wife appears to be thinking she can marry her daughter into the Italian family she has charmed. When he leaves to return home, de Havilland’s character must decide whether to "come clean" with Brazzi’s, revealing her daughter's handicap and risking their engagement. Of course, given its director, this beautiful country is lovingly photographed.

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