Roman Holiday (1953)
Hepburn's Royal Runaway
I hate this nightgown. I hate all my nightgowns, and I hate all my underwear too - Princess Ann
Whilst on a tour of European cities the young Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn - The Lavender Hill Mob) grows tired of having every aspect of her life organized and escapes whilst staying in Rome. Having fallen asleep on a street she is spotted by American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck - The Snows of Kilimanjaro) who not realising who he has found takes her back to his place to sleep off what appears to be a night of too much drinking. It's not until the morning that Joe realise that he has the Princess in his room and spotting a money making scoop decides to spend the day with her, showing her around Rome whilst getting an exclusive with the Princess.
It has to be said that the storyline to "Roman Holiday" shares some similarities to Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night", a journalist stumbling across a major scoop when he finds himself in the company of a famous run away, in this case Princess Ann from an unnamed country. But rather than feeling like a remake or just a rehash of "It Happened One Night", "Roman Holiday" stands on its own two feet with a crafted script full of romantic moments, light hearted dialogue, a tender emotional side and of course the wonderful location having been set and filmed in Rome.
It almost feels simple and predictable as you know that Joe and Ann will end up falling for each other as they spend the day together even if they have secrets and ulterior motives. But in a way it doesn't matter because the events of their day together, the trouble they get in, the fun they have makes it all so special, genuinely romantic. Yet it's not predictable because "Roman Holiday" doesn't sell out delivering what now would be an obvious ending. It delivers a tender, touching and emotional climax which is a surprise but a good one, making it a far greater romantic drama than many other movies.
But in between the predictable romance and the surprise ending "Roman Holiday" is jam packed full of memorable scenes. The scooter ride through the streets of Rome, dodging in and out of traffic and police or the iconic scene at the 'Mouth of Truth', They all come together beautifully so that you not only fall in love with Joe and Ann as a couple but also Rome itself, which makes me pretty sure that "Roman Holiday" must have done wonders for the tourist industry in Rome. In fact with "Roman Holiday" being completely shot on location in Rome it captures the whole beauty and feeling of the city, the magnificent old buildings, the coliseum, the vibrant life style with night time dances and street side cafes.
What brings this all together is not only the inspired casting but also the performances of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Peck is perfectly cast as the handsome, charming American journalist, believable as someone who has an eye for a scoop and an opportunity yet shows that softer side when it comes to his emerging feelings for Ann. From the minute he finds her sleeping on the streets through to the closeness which forms as they spend their day together it is a solid, believable performance from Peck who seems to revel in playing the romantic lead who gets to deliver some light hearted moments of comedy.
As for Audrey Hepburn in what was her first major role, well she is stunning, delightful and to be honest perfect in every sense of the word. As the young Princess forced to live life to a schedule you can sense the boredom and frustration it causes and when it all finally gets too much she delivers that whole boiling over scene spectacularly. But equally when she becomes the royal runaway you get the sense of vibrancy, the lust for life from someone escaping the shackles of Royal protocol for the first time. You get that sense of innocence when it comes to life and how things work, such as paying for stuff as well as the value of money, but like with Peck there are those light hearted moments and Hepburn delivers them impeccably working well with Peck at the same time.
What this all boils down to is that "Roman Holiday" truly is a classic, a great romantic comedy which defies time as it's still as entertaining now as it has ever been. It may be quite simple, even predictable in places but it delivers warmth, emotion and an array of tender moments which so many romantic comedies fail to achieve. And in between the brilliant performances of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn and the memorable scenes it is a movie which stays with you long after you have watched it.
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