Light in the Piazza (film)

  (Redirected from The Light in the Piazza (film))

Light in the Piazza is a 1962 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Guy Green and starring Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi, Yvette Mimieux, George Hamilton, and Barry Sullivan. Based on the 1960 novel The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer, the film is about a beautiful but mentally disabled young American woman traveling in Italy with her mother and the Italian man they meet during one leg of their trip.

Light in the Piazza
The Light in the Piazza poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGuy Green
Produced byArthur Freed
Screenplay byJulius J. Epstein
Based onThe Light in the Piazza
by Elizabeth Spencer
Music byMario Nascimbene
CinematographyOtto Heller
Edited byFrank Clarke
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • February 7, 1962 (1962-02-07) (USA)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.2 million

Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Light in the Piazza features extensive location shooting in 1960s Florence and Rome by the cinematographer Otto Heller.[2][3][4]


While taking a summer holiday in Florence with her mother Meg, 26-year-old Clara, an American, meets and falls in love with a young Italian named Fabrizio Naccarelli, played by George Hamilton. Fabrizio is blinded by his love for Clara and believes her mental disability to be simple naivety. Meg tries to explain her daughter's condition to Fabrizio's father but the opportunity never seems to be right. Fabrizio's family are taken with Clara and her simple remarks are taken as evidence of her innocence.[2]

Meg spends the remainder of the trip trying to keep the two lovers apart and fearing that Fabrizio or his family will discover the truth about her daughter.[3]

She moves their holiday quickly to Rome in the hope that Clara will soon forget Fabrizio. On discovering how unhappy this has made Clara, she calls her advertising executive husband Noel and asks him to fly to Rome to meet them. The couple discuss their daughter's future, and Noel reminds her that Clara's previous suitors have been repulsed as soon as they discover she is mentally disabled. He also reveals that he has made plans for Clara to be placed in an expensive care home for the mentally disabled. Meg is set against what she sees as the incarceration of her daughter for the rest of her life. The couple argue, and Noel returns to America.[2][3]

Meg realizes that Clara will have a much better life as a wealthy Italian wife with servants and inane gossip to entertain her than in such a home. She returns to Florence and does everything she can to expedite the marriage without her husband's knowledge.[4] Fabrizio and Clara are overjoyed and plans are made for the wedding. Clara begins religious conversion to become a Catholic, and the priest instructing her is impressed with her childlike devotion to the Madonna. This, together with the Naccarelli family's connections in the Catholic Church, allows the wedding date to be set.[3]

When Fabrizio's father glances at Clara's passport as they settle the wedding arrangements, he is suddenly alarmed and flees the church without explanation, taking Fabrizio with him. Meg fears he has somehow deduced Clara's mental age and does not want his son to marry such a person. Eventually, Signor Naccarelli visits Meg at her hotel and says she should have told him that Clara is 26. In Italian culture, a young man of 20 cannot marry an older woman without controversy.[4] He tells his son of the age difference, but Fabrizio reminds his father that his age is actually 23 and that he so loves Clara that he cares nothing for this slight difference. The situation quickly is resolved in Signor Naccarelli's eyes when Clara's dowry is increased from $5,000 to $15,000.[2]

The wedding takes place in a church in Florence without Noel's presence.[3]



The story first appeared as a novella in The New Yorker in June 1960. MGM purchased film rights in August and assigned it to producer Arthur Freed,[5] while the novel version of the story was published later that year.[6] Julius Epstein wrote the script.

Guy Green was given the job as director on the strength of The Angry Silence.[7]


Actresses who tested for the female lead included Dolores Hart;[8] producers selected Yvette Mimieux.

Tomas Milian originally was cast as the Italian groom. George Hamilton campaigned actively for the role even though it had been cast and eventually succeeded, in part by persuading Ben Thau that he was suitable.[9]


Filming started 7 May 1961. The film was shot on location in Rome and Florence with interiors at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood, near London, England.

Italian locations include:


According to MGM records, the film earned $1.2 million in the U.S. and Canada and $1 million elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $472,000.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b The Eddie Mannix Ledger. Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study. 1962..
  2. ^ a b c d Light in the Piazza at IMDb At the Imdb article, accessed Jan 2012
  3. ^ a b c d e Light in the Piazza at AllMovie At the AllRovi movie database, accessed Jan 2012
  4. ^ a b c Light in the Piazza at the TCM Movie Database at the Turner Classic Movie Movie database, accessed Jan 2012
  5. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (31 August 1960). "Trevor Howard to Be 'Capt. Bligh': Freed's Next to Be 'Piazza'; Siobhan McKenna to N.Y.". Los Angeles Times. p. B9. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  6. ^ Janeway, Elizabeth (20 November 1960). "For Better and Worse: THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. By Elizabeth Spencer. 110 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill Boot Company. $3. For Better". The New York Times. p. BR6.
  7. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (11 April 1961). "Karl Boehm Picked as Grimm Brother: Casting Well Saves Director Headaches, Guy Green Says". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  8. ^ "FILMLAND EVENTS: 3 Story Purchases Announced by 20th". Los Angeles Times. 9 September 1960. p. 24.
  9. ^ Hamilton, George; Stadiem, William (5 May 2009). Don't Mind If I Do. JR Books Ltd. pp. 150–153. ISBN 978-1906779016.
  10. ^ "Light in the Piazza". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-08-10.


External linksEdit