Cast & Crew
The Jealous Lover : On an ocean liner, ballet impresario Charles Coudray solemnly reflects on the events leading up to his London company's one and only performance of a new ballet: At a dance audition, ballerina Paula Woodward suddenly collapses. Her aunt Lydia consults a doctor, who says that Paula has a heart condition and will endanger her life if she continues to dance. Paula retires from dancing, but one evening, after watching a performance by Charles' company, she hesitantly approaches the empty stage and begins to move, gradually losing herself in a slow, expressive dance. Paula is interrupted by the imperious Charles, who has been watching from the shadows. Inspired by her artistry, Charles asks Paula to accompany him to his studio, and when she reluctantly declines, offers to take her home. In the car, Charles recognizes Paula from the audition, and as they discuss their love of the dance, she impulsively agrees to work with him. They return to Charles' elegant home and, setting aside her fears, Paula recreates her earlier performance. The effort leaves her weak, alarming Charles, who has fallen in love with her. Paula assures him that she will be with him always, and they kiss. Paula returns home, radiant, and tells her aunt what has happened. While climbing the stairs, however, Paula collapses and dies. Back on the ship, Charles remains lost in his sad thoughts.
Mademoiselle : Another passenger on the ship, a pretty young French woman, overhears a governess talking to her young charges and thinks back on her own experience as a governess the previous summer: In a lavish hotel in Rome, eleven-year-old Thomas Clayton Campbell, Jr. chafes under the tutelage of his governess, Mademoiselle, who insists on teaching him French and reading him "mushy" poetry. One night, in the park, Tommy meets an older boy, Terry, who tells him that old Hazel Pennicott, who lives in the hotel's annex, is a witch. Although he is skeptical, Tommy goes with Terry to spy on the old woman. Provoked by the older boy's teasing, Tommy timidly approaches Mrs. Pennicott and asks her to change him into a grown man so he will not have to have a governess. Mrs. Pennicott agrees to effect the transformation on a temporary basis, and gives Tommy an enchanted ribbon, along with instructions to recite her name at 8:00 p.m. and be back in bed by midnight. That evening, following an ugly quarrel with Mademoiselle, Tommy gets into bed and performs the incantation, and is transformed into a handsome young man. After donning a tuxedo and emptying his piggy bank, Tommy goes to the hotel bar, where he is disappointed by his first drink. He then goes for a walk at the Colosseum, where he encounters Mademoiselle. Now able to speak French beautifully--and endowed with both an appreciation for poetry and a sense of shame for his earlier bad conduct toward her--Tommy engages his governess in conversation. There is a strong attraction between them, and as they spend the rest of the evening strolling through the Colosseum and kissing, Tommy realizes that youth passes all too quickly. As the clock begins to strike twelve, Tommy flees, hastily promising to bid farewell to Mademoiselle at the train station the following morning. The next day, Tommy, a child once again, is reunited with his parents at the train station, and Mademoiselle suddenly informs the family that she will stay behind. Tommy rushes off the train and expresses his affection for Mademoiselle in French. After the train leaves, Mademoiselle encounters Mrs. Pennicott, who assures the young woman that love will find her and gives her the other half of the enchanted ribbon. Back on the ship, Mademoiselle meets a handsome man who tells her that he saw her at the train station in Rome and has thought of her ever since.
Equilibrium : Pierre Narval leans over the ship's railing and thinks about the recent changes in his life: In Paris, Pierre rescues a young Italian woman, Nina Burkhart, who has jumped off a bridge. Unable to get her out of his mind, Pierre visits the despondent Nina in the hospital and gives her his address. One day, Pierre announces to his friends that he intends to resume his career as a trapeze artist, and they remind him that his passion for taking dangerous risks led to the death of his partner two years earlier. Nina calls on Pierre when she gets out of the hospital and, believing her detachment from life to be a professional asset, he asks her to be his partner. Under Pierre's supervision, Nina begins an arduous training program, and eventually reveals that she and her late husband Walter were in a concentration camp. Nina was released first, and Walter was killed when a letter she wrote urging him not to attempt an escape was given to the Germans by a collaborator. One day, Nina comes home to find a man from the concentration camp waiting for her. She falls into a deep depression after the visit, and shows Pierre the box the man gave her, which contains chess pieces that Walter carved in the camp. Nina says that the man was tortured into betraying Walter, who forgave him before he died. Pierre, who still blames himself for his former partner's death, urges Nina to forgive herself as well, and swears he will do anything for her. Later, at an important audition held by American circus owner William Cyrus, Pierre and Nina perform their routine flawlessly, but are apprehensive when it comes to the finale, a risky maneuver called the "death dive." Just before they are to perform the move, Cyrus demands that the safety net be removed. Pierre refuses, but Nina insists that they go on. Pierre and Nina perform the perilous maneuver successfully and then, with nothing left to prove, silently walk out with their arms around each other. On the ship, Pierre smiles at this memory as Nina appears at his side.
Major Sam Harris
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Jack D. Moore
Edwin B. Willis
Ralph E. Winters
Best Art Direction
The Story of Three Loves
The Story of Three Loves aspired to the European model, with its international casts, art-film pretensions, and the most sumptuous London, Rome, and Paris that could be created on the MGM back lot. That it manages to be so entertaining in spite of itself is due in large part to the charm and talent in front of and behind the camera.
The connection among the three stories is that characters from each of them are aboard a ship bound for the United States, looking back on what brought them there. In the first story, "The Jealous Lover," James Mason plays a choreographer who meets a talented dancer, played by Moira Shearer, and creates a ballet with her, unaware that she is forbidden to dance because of a heart condition. Shearer, a Scottish-born ballerina, had created a worldwide sensation with her first film, The Red Shoes (1948). Most critics felt that "The Jealous Lover" was a not-very-good rehash of The Red Shoes, with Mason as the demanding taskmaster. But they also were enchanted by Shearer's dancing, choreographed by the illustrious British choreographer Frederick Ashton, to Rachmaninoff's haunting "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." This would be Shearer's only American film. Gottfried Reinhardt, who had worked primarily as a producer, directed this episode, as well as the third one, "Equilibrium."
Leslie Caron, who had made a spectacular film debut in Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris (1951), is the eponymous "Mademoiselle" of the second story, directed by Minnelli. A governess for an American family in Rome, in charge of an 11-year old boy (played by Ricky Nelson) Mademoiselle is a yearning romantic, trying in vain to interest her irrepressible ward in poetry. The boy has an encounter with a whimsical fairy godmother, with surprising consequences for both him and his governess.
1953 was an important year for Caron. She had followed An American in Paris with a couple of lackluster films that did little to showcase her gamine appeal. In 1953, she had two films in release at the same time that showcased her very well - The Story of Three Loves, and Lili, which won her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress, and is one of her most memorable performances.
Nelson, the younger son of TV's Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, was a charmer, who had emerged as the star of his family's television program. His scenes in The Story of Three Loves with the equally charming Ethel Barrymore as the elderly sorceress are a delight. Director Vincente Minnelli recalled in his memoirs that "working with Miss Barrymore was the joy I expected it to be. She had a personal charm which was complemented by her extreme professionalism....She knew the comparatively short part cold, and it took only a couple of days to put her performance on film. It took no great effort to show her the enormous respect to which she was entitled." This was Barrymore's final appearance in an MGM film.
The third episode, "Equilibrium," starred Kirk Douglas as a guilt-ridden trapeze artist whose partner has been killed, and Pier Angeli as a suicidal war widow who becomes his new partner. Most critics thought this was the best of the three episodes, because of the emotional complexity of the story, the exciting acrobatics, and excellent performances by the stars. Ricardo Montalban had been set to play the trapeze artist, but MGM replaced him with Douglas, who actually learned routines on the trapeze and did some of his own stunts. Douglas was intrigued by the fearlessness of Pier Angeli, who also learned some routines, and before long, he had fallen in love with her. "Our romance started thirty feet above the earth," he recalled in his memoirs. They became engaged, but were often separated by their careers and by Angeli's domineering mother, and the romance ended.
In spite of its all-star gloss, The Story of Three Loves may have been too arty for the general public, and it was not a success at the box office. But it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Color Art Direction. And it provides a fascinating look at a transitional period, during the last gasp of the old studio system, and the increasing influence of international filmmaking.
Director: Gottfried Reinhardt, Vincente Minnelli
Producer: Sidney Franklin
Screenplay: John Collier, Jan Lustig, George Froeschel, based on stories by Arnold Phillips, Ladislas Vajda, Jacques Maret
Cinematography: Charles Rosher, Harold Rosson
Editor: Ralph E. Winters
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Preston Ames, Edward Carfagno, Gabriel Scognamillo
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Principal Cast: Moira Shearer (Paula Woodward), James Mason (Charles Coudray), Agnes Moorehead (Aunt Lydia), Leslie Caron (Mademoiselle), Ethel Barrymore (Mrs. Pennicott), Farley Granger (Thomas Campbell), Ricky Nelson (Tommy), Zsa Zsa Gabor (Flirt at Bar), Kirk Douglas (Pierre Narval), Pier Angeli (Nina), Richard Anderson (Marcel), Steven Geray (Legay).
C-122m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
The Story of Three Loves
Moira Shearer (1926-2006)
Born Moira Shearer King on January 17, 1926 in Dunfermline, Scotland. Her father, an engineer, moved the family to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), where she was pushed into dance lessons by her mother. After the family returned to Scotland, she received lessons from the legendary Russian dance teacher Nikolai Legat. When she was just 16 she joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet and made her big national debut at 20 as Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House in London.
In 1948, Powell and co-director Emeric Pressburger cast Shearer in the title role of Victoria Page, the young ballerina who sacrifices all for her career. The plot might have been a touch old fashioned, but the glorious technicolor and Robert Helpmann's florid, dazzling choreography, made this film as exciting on both sides of the Atlantic; and Shearer, complete with lucid beauty and captivating movements, a star.
After the film, Shearer returned to ballet, and following a brief U.S. tour in 1950, she made her second film, again for Powell in The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). A few more movies followed, The Story of Three Loves (1953), The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955), and a third film for Powell, the notorious Peeping Tom (1960), where she meets a grisly death at the hands of a psychotic photographer (Karl Boehm). Shearer concentrated on stage work afterwards before retiring to raise a family. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Ludovic Kennedy; a son, Alastair; and daughters, Ailsa, Rachel, and Fiona.
by Michael T. Toole
Moira Shearer (1926-2006)
The working title of this film was Three Love Stories. The order of the cast credits listed above differs from the onscreen credits. In the opening credits, the cast was listed in the following order: Pier Angeli, Ethel Barrymore, Leslie Caron, Kirk Douglas, Farley Granger, James Mason, Moira Shearer, Agnes Moorehead, Ricky Nelson, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Richard Anderson. According to 1951 news items in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, Vincente Minnelli was to direct an I. A. R. Wylie story titled "Why Should I Cry?" as one of the sequences, but the story was replaced with "Equilibrium." "Why Should I Cry?" was later adapted for the feature film Torch Song .
According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Ricardo Montalban was originally cast as "Pierre Narval" in "Equilibrium," and spent several months training for the role with trapeze artist Harold Voyse. In his autobiography, Kirk Douglas wrote that he sought Montalban's permission before accepting the role. Douglas also wrote that he became engaged for a brief period to his young co-star, Pier Angeli, while working on the film, but they never married.
A March 5, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Gottfried Reinhardt, who directed both "The Jealous Lover" and "Equilibrium" segments, would play the role of a concierge, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items also add Fritz Warnecke, Thomas Herman, Lou Nova and Arnold Newton to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The Story of Three Loves was Moira Shearer's only American film, and Ricky Nelson's first screen appearance without his parents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. The film received an Academy Award nomination in the Art Direction (Color) category.
Released in United States 1953
Released in United States 1953