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It Started in Naples (1960)
It Started in Naples is an American romantic comedy film made by Paramount Pictures and released in August 1960. It was directed by Melville Shavelson and produced by Jack Rose from a screenplay by Suso Cecchi d'Amico based on the story by Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies. The Technicolor cinematography was by Robert Surtees. The film stars Clark Gable, Sophia Loren, Vittorio De Sica and an Italian cast. Michael Hamilton (Gable), a Philadelphia lawyer, travels to Naples, Italy only a few days before his planned wedding to settle the estate of his late brother, Joseph with Italian lawyer Vitalli (De Sica). In the opening narration he states he "was here before with the 5th US Army" in World War II. In Naples, Michael discovers that his brother had a son, nine-year-old Nando, who is being cared for by his maternal aunt Lucia (Loren), a cabaret singer. Joseph never married Nando's mother but drowned with her in a boating accident. Joseph's actual wife, whom he left in 1950, is alive in Philadelphia. Michael discovers to his dismay that his brother spent a fortune on fireworks. After seeing Nando handing out racy photos of Lucia at 2 A.M.
Clark Gable (at 59, in his second-to-last film appearance) and Sophia Loren (only 26, but appearing far older) romance it up in this vaguely creepy setup: Gable plays an American lawyer who travels to Italy to tend to the estate of his dead brother. Turns out bro's son (the mononymous Marietto) is now in the care of an aunt (Loren), who doesn't know much about child-rearing but who obviously cares for the child. Distrust and miscommunication eventually turn into romance.
Between courtroom appearances and lazy dinners set against the always lush coastal landscapes, we visit with young Nando (who's already a chain smoker at age 10) and drop in on the underground club scene, which largely consists of Loren on stage singing version after version of 'Tu Vuo Fa Americano' while shaking her butt. Somewhere in all of this we're supposed to buy that Loren and Gable fall in love, though they rarely agree on anything. You know, it's movie love.
It Started in Naples is a cute and harmless little movie, a fossil of a bygone age when comedies didn't require scatalogical humor, and romances didn't require any basis in logic.