Roman Holiday

1953, Movie, NR, 119 mins


Delicious, and delectable Audrey's Oscar-winning American debut. But not such a difficult feat with William Wyler backing you up. The secret is in the way Wyler, who had been away from comedy for about 18 years, builds an atmosphere of charm that leads us to her. And it didn't hurt Hepburn at all that she came along during a time when Monroe's sex doll influence had Hollywood brimming over with sex bombs from all over; or that Wyler cast her opposite dependable, protective Gregory Peck. The film gained 10 Academy Award nominations--amazing for a comedy--with Oscars awarded (beside Hepburn) to costumer Edith Head, and Ian McClellan Hunter for the film's story. Charming, wistful, and frothy, it earned strong receipts at the box office. Hepburn, who had previously appeared in six European movies and in "Gigi" on Broadway (selected for her role in that play by author Colette herself, who met the actress in the south of France and was immediately struck by her gamine beauty.), ROMAN HOLIDAY auspiciously presents her. She is infectious as Anne, a princess on holiday in Rome, where her ever-present coterie includes Rawlings, her chaperon, and Carminati, an aide. Overprotected all her life, she hasn't the vaguest idea of what the world outside her castle and her small country is like. Now in her teenage years, she is beginning to rebel against the formality and constrictions of her royal position and, seeing her chance to see how the other half lives, escapes her claustrophobic entourage. While they conduct a frantic search for her, she falls asleep on a park bench and meets Peck, one of the many reporters who have been trying to interview the princess, who has hitherto been shielded from the world's press corps by her aides. Peck knows he has a major scoop in meeting Hepburn, but initially pretends not to know who she is, taking her on a sightseeing tour of Rome while Albert, a news photographer, secretly snaps pictures of her as she plays hookey. For 24 hours, Peck shows Hepburn the famous sights, as well as some that are less familiar, since it is necessary to evade the police who are looking everywhere for the missing princess. Peck takes her on a motorcycle, they go dancing, and the pair land in some minor scrapes; all the while, the hard-boiled reporter falls harder for the guileless, beautiful Hepburn.

The film also has enough adventure and excitement to satisfy, and the faintly bittersweet note of the ending is made deliciously palatable by its artistic rightness. ROMAN HOLIDAY inspired several imitations, but none came close to the charming insouciance of the original. Hunter, picking up his Oscar, was fronting for blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, who was awarded a posthumous statuette in 1993. leave a comment

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Roman Holiday (1953)
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