Roman Holiday (1953)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert
Directed by: William Wyler
Released by: Paramount Pictures
Synopsis: Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), frustrated by the demands of royalty, flees her duties to enjoy a holiday in Rome. In her journey she meets a nice American man named Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), a reporter trying to find the latest news on her and sell it to the newspapers. As the day progresses, they are enchanted by the city, and a romance blooms soon thereafter.
Review: Roman Holiday is more than just a great film, it's a classic that established Audrey Hepburn as a beautiful film star. It also showed filmmakers how effective a romance film could be despite its simple plot. This was the second Audrey Hepburn film that I saw after Breakfast at Tiffany's, and it's amazing to see how she grew as an actress afterwards
The plot is very simple: girl is frustrated with her life and tries to escape it, girl meets boy, boy and girl go on a holiday and boy and girl fall in love. But it's the simplest stories that are told the best, and Roman Holiday is no exception. The film features everything from high drama to silly comedy, making for a satisfying film akin to Breakfast at Tiffany's (though in a much toned down scale). It's a movie that everyone should enjoy thanks to its merits in plot and character development.
Audrey Hepburn is lovely as Princess Ann, expressing anger, wonder and grace in a very natural manner. It's that kind of girl next door quality that made her a household name across the globe and earned her an Academy Award. Gregory Peck as the love interest is quite fascinating. He starts the film unsympathetic towards Ann, and only takes interest in her when he learns that she is the princess and thus could result in a juicy story. But as the film progresses he grows to become a very charming gentleman, effectively winning Ann's heart and the support of the audience. It's classic romance at its finest, and Peck and Hepburn have plenty of film chemistry to carry it through its completion.
The supporting characters are also very enjoyable, especially Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich, a photographer who happens to be Joe's partner in crime. He tags along with the couple in order to get some incriminating shots of Princess Ann. Like Joe, though, Ann's charm soon grows on him and becomes yet another friend in her journey.
But the one element that I enjoy the most in Roman Holiday is the city of Rome. The city is almost a character in itself, with its locales serving as major set pieces for the heartwarming romance. The Vespa ride through the city, the Mouth of Truth statue and the castles are magnificent and inspired a sense of awe and wonder in me while as I watched the film. If Roman Holiday doesn't make you book a flight to Rome, nothing will.
Very few things can be said against Roman Holiday, and many of its mistakes are just small enough to forgive. For example, without spoiling anything the ending may prove to be unsatisfying for some due to the awkwardness of the scene. There are times in which you realize this is Audrey Hepburn's first film due to some odd delivery of lines, but this can be forgiven and at times favors the film considering the character she is playing. It gives the film a fascinating human element while never being unrealistic.
In conclusion, Roman Holiday has it all: great characters performed by fantastic actors, a heartwarming love story and an exotic locale that enthralls the audience. It’s one of the most important films in Audrey Hepburn’s career, and it’s an excellent one at that.
Rating: 5 filmstrips out of 5