Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday – IMDb 233/250

The next film on my list can say it started the career of Audrey Hepburn, so for that reason alone it deserves its place in the top 250 films of all time. Roman Holiday is a charming and loveable romantic comedy starring Hepburn alongside one of my favourite actors, Gregory Peck.

And as the first film I’ve watched with Hepburn starring, I can see why she is such a legend of the cinema industry.

Hepburn plays Ann, a royal princess who is bored and frustrated with her tightly scheduled life in the public eye, finally escaping the restrictions her duty forces her to comply to, spending an amazing day in Rome with reporter Joe Bradley, (Gregory Peck).

At the beginning of the film Hepburn is exquisite at showing us the frustrations her character feels, highlighting the lack of freedom Ann experiences and her inability to ever do what she wants due to her social obligations as a princess.

The scene where Hepburn has to subtly take off her shoe to scratch an itch on her foot is very comical but also reveals to the audience the social restrictions Ann faces in her life, the performance she has to go through just to scratch her own foot.

But the real fun and charm begins in this film when we are introduced to Peck’s character Joe Bradley, and when Joe and Ann meet for their adventure through Rome.

Shot entirely on location in Rome, Roman Holiday is simply the definition of a charming film, lead perfectly by Hepburn (who won the Academy Award for her performance) and Peck, with bubbling chemistry between the two that is hard to find in modern cinema.

This iconic scene is famous for Gregory Peck's improvisation, managing to get a real scream out of Audrey Hepburn!

This iconic scene is famous for Peck’s improvisation, managing to get a real scream out of Hepburn! It also showcases their bubbling chemistry

Joe Bradley at first is just using Ann in the same way her parents, advisors and the general public use her. He thinks he can get a great story out of her for his newspaper, but as the film progresses he learns what a vibrant, enigmatic person Ann is.

Peck does a fantastic job of showing us that underneath his supposedly greedy exterior Bradley is a caring man, and this is shown by the films end as he refuses to sell the story he gets from Ann during their day out, turning down a large sum of money so that something in Ann’s life is finally private.

Roman Holiday is all about escapism and living life, and director William Wyler does a great job of capturing this. In the film Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) also manages to capture this feeling of freedom and excitement of life from Ann, with Eddie Albert providing many of the films funniest moments.

But unlike many Hollywood romantic comedies, this film has a very bittersweet ending. Ultimately, Ann and Joe cannot be together, instead they take solace in the fact they had one beautiful day together, and they know that is where their story ends.

You can say Roman Holiday is a bit too sweet, rather saccharine in its approach and view of life, but it’s just so wonderfully filmed and acted that you can’t help but enjoy it. It was never boring; with Wyler creating a film that has charm flowing through it, using the setting of Rome to create the perfect romantic atmosphere.

But really this film is all about our leads, Hepburn and Peck, who just have this aura which explains why they are still held in such high regard to this day, with this film setting them up perfectly for their incredible performances in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Hepburn) and To Kill A Mockingbird (Peck).

If you want something light and lovely or perhaps you’re planning a trip to Rome, (I can see them using this film on their tourist boards), then Roman Holiday is the film for you.

Roman Holiday: 7/10

Paul

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