29 December 2002
A thoroughly modern moviemaker
George Roy Hill (no relation) is gone. The director of crowd-pleasers like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, which won eleven Academy Awards between them, he was equally at home with difficult material (say, The World According to Garp).
For me, the best thing he ever did was the gentle comedy A Little Romance, in which an American student in Paris (Diane Lane, all of fourteen years old) and a French kid (Thelonious Bernard) find themselves mad about one another and, courtesy of a romantic fable spun for them by that charming old rogue Laurence Olivier, obsessed with getting themselves to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, that their love may be forever sealed.
Many years after this 1979 film, I briefly entertained the fantasy of doing likewise with the person not yet (un)known as She Who Is Not To Be Named, despite a gnawing suspicion that at the precise moment when we started to pass beneath the bridge, when according to the legend the Kiss of Eternity must be delivered, she would gaze up at the Palace and holler, "Who let the Doge out?"
Which of course would have sealed the deal anyway, but I didn't realize that at the time.