Come September Blu-ray Review: Hudson Rocks the Riviera

Rock Hudson is in prime leading man form in this beautifully photographed 1961 romp through the Italian Riviera. Hudson plays an American playboy named Robert who is so well off he can afford to own and maintain an exquisite Italian villa he only visits in September every year. He also maintains a relationship with a beautiful local girl named Lisa, played by the alluring Gina Lollobrigida.

When he alters his plans one year with a surprise trip to his villa in July, he’s shocked to learn that his housekeeper turns the villa into a hotel during his annual 11-month absence, and it’s currently full of American girls on holiday. What’s worse, the girls have attracted boys who have taken up squatting residence in his yard. Lisa also isn’t too keen on him showing up unannounced, since she has her own things going on.

Hudson is charming as the flustered rich guy, bringing warmth and charisma to the character to ensure we continue to root for him even though his character caused all of the problems by his unannounced appearance. Lollobrigida shows a feisty streak as the spirited local girl trying to fit her occasional boyfriend into her current plans. They both bring effortless cool to their roles, with impeccable fashion to boot. The film’s B story involves the college girls and boys as they pair up for romance, particularly Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin, who hit it off so well during the film’s production that they got married in real life ten days after it wrapped.

Director Robert Mulligan gives the actors space to fully explore their characters, but takes his hand off the wheel on plot development, resulting in a film that often plays more like a disjointed travelogue than a narrative feature. Thankfully, cinematographer William H. Daniels ensures that the travelogue aspects are incredibly scenic, fully capturing the allure of the Italian Riviera in the 1960s.

The Blu-ray picture quality is impeccable, with next to no defects present. Colors are slightly undersaturated as typical of the film’s era, but maintain consistent levels throughout all scenes. The soundtrack gets a DTS upgrade and is also free of defects. While there are no bonus features about the film’s production, the disc features a handful of trailers for other recent Blu-ray releases including the original theatrical trailer for this film.

If you haven’t had a proper vacation in the difficult past couple of years, this film is a great reminder of the joys of international travel. It’s also a reminder of Hudson’s immense charm as he makes the most of his role, proving once again that he is one of Hollywood’s all-time great leading men.

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Steve Geise

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