Today’s post is on a big classic I’ve been waiting a while to see, and that movie would be the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn! Of course, we’ve got a theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to the main feature!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Scratch A Tiger (1970)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
When the aardvark arrives with a hungry look about him, the ant turns to a tiger he helped out for protection. This one again adds something extra, by having the tiger involved. Obviously, the concept is nothing new, having been done in a number of other cartoons, but it’s still fun here. The ending in particular helps this one stand out a little. I got a few good laughs out of this one, and I don’t mind seeing it every now and then!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) has been traveling throughout Europe as part of a goodwill tour. When she stops in Rome, Italy, the strain finally gets to her. Her doctor gives her a sedative to help calm her down and allow her to sleep, but she gets away before the sedative starts to take effect. American reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is on his way home from a poker game with his friends, when he finds Ann starting to fall asleep. Without knowing who she is, he tries to help her, but she is so out of it, he gets stuck bringing her back to his place for the night. She ends up sleeping on his couch (after he rolls her off the bed). The next morning, Joe is supposed to interview the princess, but he accidentally sleeps in. When he awakes, he rushes in to the office, and tries to fake an interview with his editor. What Joe doesn’t know is that it had been publicly declared earlier that morning that the princess was ill, and would be unable to keep her commitments (including that interview). After the editor lets him dig a deep hole, he then tells Joe off and shows him the news. When Joe recognizes the newspaper photo of the princess, he makes a bet with his editor that he can get an exclusive interview, and then rushes back to his apartment. Ann, unaware that he knows the truth, introduces herself as “Anya,” and gets herself dressed. While she does that, Joe calls his photographer friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) to take some photographs for his story. Ann starts to walk around the city, and Joe follows from a distance. After she buys herself some shoes, gets a haircut and some gellato, Joe “runs into her” at the Trevi Fountain, and the two decide to spend the day together having fun. They are joined by Irving at a restaurant, and, after Joe takes him aside to explain things, he uses a hidden camera in his lighter to take pictures. That night, they go to a dance on a barge. Everything is going fine, until some of the members of her country’s secret service find her and try to take her away. Ann calls out for Joe, who comes to her rescue and starts a brawl. They’re able to get away, and go back to Joe’s apartment. While there, they realize that they love each other. However, they hear on the radio how much her “illness” is affecting the people of her country, and she’s unsure of what to do. Will she stay with Joe, or will she go back and resume her duties as a princess?
Roman Holiday was written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who had been forced to have a fellow writer, Ian McLellan Hunter, sell it under his name. The story was sold to director Frank Capra, but he ended up not going through with the idea. It was then sold to Paramount Pictures, and director William Wyler jumped at the chance when it was offered to him. His main stipulations would be that the whole thing had to be filmed in Italy (which Paramount initially balked at, but eventually relented on), and he wanted to cast an unknown in the role of the princess. Of course, a big name was still needed, so the director was able to convince Gregory Peck to sign on. As for the princess, Wyler decided to cast Hollywood newcomer Audrey Hepburn (who had heretofore done a few bit parts in some European movies and some small stuff onstage).
While I’ve heard of this movie for a number of years, it wasn’t really until the last half-decade or so that I became interested in seeing it. A lot of that has to do with actress Audrey Hepburn, whom I hadn’t really cared for one way or another, at first. After I finally came around on My Fair Lady, it became a lot easier for me to seek out more of her films since (all of which I have enjoyed). But, Roman Holiday was one that still evaded me (mostly because by that time I had gone to high-definition, and wasn’t going back for standard, especially for a movie that *seemed* popular enough that it should have made the jump to HD). Finally, it made the jump to Blu-ray (more comments on that in a moment), and I got the chance to see it!
In short, I agree with all the high praise I’ve seen doled out to this movie over the years. In her first starring role, Audrey Hepburn gives a breathtaking performance as the princess. From her mental breakdown due to the strain, all through her day of fun, and back to being a princess, it was a pure thrill to see! I definitely would say that she earned that Oscar! And while I’ve never really felt one way or the other about him, Gregory Peck did well, too. I know I enjoyed seeing his character trying to fake the interview with his boss (who obviously knew he was lying through his teeth), and, while his intentions weren’t the best to start, he gradually came around, even though it cost him. And it was fun seeing Green Acres star Eddie Albert here, too (even though he is almost unrecognizable with that beard)! Of course, all the Italian scenery certainly helps sell the movie as well. Seriously, this is a great film, and one I would most certainly recommend!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Paramount Studios as part of their Paramount Presents line. The movie has been remastered from a 4K transfer, and it looks great! Seriously, this new Blu-ray is the best way to see this wonderful movie, and I would heartily recommend it!!
Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Gregory Peck – Designing Woman (1957)
Audrey Hepburn – Love In The Afternoon (1957)