184 of 188 people found the following review helpful
This was Audrey Hepburn's debut in a starring role. She was 24-years-old and had appeared in two or three other movies but just in bit parts. Here she plays a reigning European princess visiting Rome who would like an escape from her daily regime of official duties, thus the title and theme of the movie, a Roman holiday.
Gregory Peck plays an American newspaper reporter living in the Eternal City. We first see him playing poker with his cronies, and losing. His relative "poverty" and Princess Ann's fabulous wealth and station present a formidable barrier to their ever finding true love and marital happiness. Part of the fun of the script is in seeing how this will play out and how their differences are resolved in the end. I will give you a small hint: very carefully!
The script comes from a story by Dalton Trumbo who is perhaps best known as the author of the anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Trumbo was one of the "Hollywood Ten" who were blacklisted from working in the industry during the excesses of the McCarthy era. He went to Mexico and continued working on film scripts but under assumed names or had his scripts presented by "fronts." In this case Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for Trumbo and won an Academy Award for the story. Later the Academy awarded Trumbo a posthumous Oscar for his work.
Long time Hollywood studio director William Wyler directed the film entirely on location in Rome. He has a formidable list of credits going well back into the silent film era including such outstanding films as Wuthering Heights (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), etc. His clear directorial style and his attention to detail work well here. The sets in Rome are charming, especially Peck's bachelor apartment. The bit players, especially Peck's landlord are excellent and the events are dreamy in just the way a romantic meeting in Rome ought to be. Wyler is especially effective in presenting Audrey Hepburn in the most flattering light and getting the audience to identify with her.
Gregory Peck's character should be a bit of an adventurous rake who finds that love is more important than money or fame, but it is impossible for Peck to play a morally compromised character, and so even as he appears to be using Princess Ann for his own ends, his behavior is always correct. I was somewhat amused to notice that at all times Peck appears wearing a tie! Eddie Albert plays Peck's friend, a photographer/artist. It is interesting to note how Hollywood's perception of the paparazzi has changed over the years. Here blood-sucking, intrusive greed does not exist. Instead we have noble self-sacrifice!
I have seen most of Miss Hepburn's movies and I can say that she was never more enchanting than she is here. She is gorgeous and cute at the same time, charming and impish, sweet, regal and very winning. In a sense she started at the top with this film, garnering her only Oscar as Best Actress in 1953; but as her fans know she never came down off that pedestal. Even playing poor Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964), there was never any doubt about the quality of her style and character.
This is the most romantic film I have ever seen, perhaps partly because Miss Hepburn is so wonderful, but also because the script in a sense turns the usual woman's romantic fantasy upside down. Instead of the woman finding that the man she is in love with has fabulous wealth and position, it is the other way around!
The ending manages to be realistic yet romantic. There is a hint of something almost spiritual beyond what happens. So convincing are Hepburn and Peck that one can almost believe the story is true; and indeed I am sure that Trumbo lifted the essentials of the plot from some ancient tale.
I have a weakness for movies about unrequited love, or love that goes on forever, or love that is caught at some perfect moment and lives eternally in that moment. Roman Holiday is one of those near perfect movies that plays beautifully upon one of these themes.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2003
What a wonderful movie! What a great romantic fantasy!
It is one of my all-time favorites, one of the films I could watch several times, without getting bored.
I don't think that the plot is important here, but the way the actors performed and the place where the story is set.
In Rome, a European princess manages to escape the rigid and boring life and have and unforgettable experience, living for one day as a normal person. She does all the things that she was not allowed to do before, such as cutting her hair, eating ice-cream, strolling down the streets and why not, falling in love with an ordinary man.
This is the role that brought Audrey Hepburn an Oscar and made her a well-known star.
It is the natural and ingenuous performance that makes her such a charming and unforgettable character, a graceful presence on the screen.
Her companion is Gregory Peck who has also a great performance and makes the film even more delightful. He plays the part of a young and charming journalist, looking for news that might increase sales of his newspaper and bring some money in his pocket.
The DVD includes also a section with a kind of "making of": interviews of the people who participated at the shooting, memories, etc. This is even more interesting, as you will have the chance to listen to the people who were involved in this project, and the stories behind the scene. You will also see that time did not alter too many of Audrey Hepburn's features and even at an older age she still looks refined and elegant.
I have one complain about this movie: 118 minutes seemed to be not enough for such a romantic story. I believe that everyone of us would like to dream about what is like to be lost in the "eternal city" for one day and enjoy the simple things of life.
73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2004
ROMAN HOLIDAY should appeal to everyone who loves a good romance, and this one is a great one. The rest us of will be well content with the splendor of Rome and the chance to see the remarkable Audrey Hepburn in her debut movie. In other words, ROMAN HOLIDAY has something for every palate.
The plot? Princess Ann (we're never quite sure which country she's princess of) is enduring a grueling tour of European nations. Weary to death of the royal treatment, one night Ann escapes into the Roman night. Unfortunately for her she had a while earlier been given an injection to help her sleep. The drug takes effect while she's out and about, and reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) discovers her asleep on a street bench. Believing she's inebriated, and being a gentleman, he tries to deliver her safely to her home. That plan fails and, being a gentleman, Bradley arranges for the young stranger (he doesn't learn she's the missing princess until the next scene) to sleep on the sofa in his small, one-room apartment.
Cary Grant was originally offered the part of Joe Bradley and he turned it down. One of the dvd's specials tells us he refused the role because he didn't want to play second fiddle to an ingenue. Maybe so. It's tempting to decide, on the basis of this scene, that Peck was woefully miscast. Ann, nearly asleep on her feet, asks Bradley "Will you help me undress?" A natural enough request coming from royalty, I guess. Bradley fumbles around with her neck scarf, unties it, hands it to her and says "You can handle the rest."
Peck plays the scene for a smile. Grant would have made it one of the highlights of the movie. After savoring the opportunity for the audience's delight he would have removed the tie and given the camera a quick peek, as if to say "Listen here, I know this is a cliched, silly situation. But doesn't this look like fun. Don't we make a handsome couple?" Grant was a supple pagan god who drank more than once from the well of hedonism, and he was always careful to bring the audience along for the good times. Peck was an Old Testament prophet, a little too stern and stiff to give himself over to pleasure.
What Peck brings to the role is authority and a handsome arm for Hepburn to rest on. Grant would have distracted us, and ROMAN HOLIDAY is best when our attention is focused squarely on Audrey Hepburn. She delivers a tour de force performance, and you can understand the excitement she generated even after a half century.
The specials include the documentary "Remembering ROMAN HOLIDAY", which surprised me with all the people who were involved and dropped out of the production of the movie. "Edith Head: The Paramount Years" is a short biography of the famous and talented fashion designer. "Restoring ROMAN HOLIDAY" shows us a number of before and after shots - this is a VERY clean print. There is also a trio of theatrical trailers and a stills photo gallery.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
Despite being in black and white, Roman Holiday is anything but boring. It's the story of the Princess Anna of an unknown European country who goes on an exhausting European goodwill tour. Tired of royal life and being a royal pain (in other words a spoiled child), Anna (played by the sparkling actress, Audrey Hepburn) escapes into the city of Rome. There she meets Joe Bradley, a foreign news reporter from America, who mistakes her for being drunk and tries to take her back home. Unsuccessful, he, trying hard to be a gentleman, loans her his couch to sleep on for the night, not knowing she's a princess. Joe, (played to perfection by Gregory Peck)upon discovering she's a princess, sees a chance to make some money and boost his career. He takes her on the ultimate romantic tour of the Eternal City, never expecting to fall in love with the dainty, beautiful girl. The story is pretty predictable, but is one of the most romantic older screenplays I've ever seen. This is one of those really good movies that makes you want to cry at the end. You'll fall in love with Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and all the delightful characters of Roman Holiday, I guarantee.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2001
Nearly fifty years after it was made, "Roman Holiday" still brings a gleeful smile of pleasure and delight to its viewer, who will be undoubtedly charmed by this wonderful whimsy of a film. The story of a princess escaping her fairy tale life, and finding her own fairy tale outside the palace with a handsome newsman captivated audiences in 1953, and still does today.
In her feature film debut, the delightful Audrey Hepburn shines as the gamine Princess Anne, who, loathing her tiresome, claustrophobic life as a royal family member, escapes from her caretakers while on a royal international tour in Rome. When a young newsman, Joe Bradley, (Gregory Peck) stumbles onto the naive young woman, he realizes who she is, and smelling the scoop of a lifetime, takes her on a holiday through the sights and pleasures of Rome while his photographer buddy Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) relentlessly shoots pictures with all sorts of camouflaged gadgets. Joe and "Anya" bask in the joys of the lush city, from lunch at a sidewalk cafe (where the princess also enjoys her first cigarette) to a wild escapade on a runaway motorcycle, to a romantic moonlit dance by a lake... and before the pair realizes it, they've fallen for each other, but can they be together... a princess and a commoner?
William Wyler directed this Oscar-winning masterpiece, nominated for, among other awards, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Eddie Albert, and winner for Audrey Hepburn as the year's Best Actress for her brilliant, utterly charming princess. A princess, indeed. Hepburn, the beautiful young gamine, is indeed every inch a princess in her sensitive and beautiful portrayal. Gregory Peck's rugged charm and humor are a perfect match for Hepburn, and the chemistry between the two is a joy to watch. The exquisite cinematography is extraordinary to see, even in black-and-white, and the lively script makes for many golden scenes: One scene in the beginning has Hepburn trying to retrieve a lost shoe during an Embassy dance, another has Hepburn getting her first haircut in an Italian salon, and the whole picture is worth the scene in which Peck dares Hepburn to put her hand into the infamous "Mouth of Truth": "Legend has it that if you're given to lying, it'll bite your hand off." Slyly demonstrating, he suddenly yells in agony as the terrified Hepburn screams. He brings his arm out with his hand disappeared, and Hepburn shrieks. But suddenly the hand pops through his coat jacket as Hepburn squeals with mock-fury. And the beautiful, beautiful scene by the lake as the two look into each other's eyes while they dance... what a heavenly feeling you get watching that scene alone.
It's a charming film, absolutely beautiful. "Roman Holiday" is a movie about two people falling in love, and it's a movie that you will fall in love with too. This is a film to watch again and again with somebody you love... if you do, it's only that much more of a holiday.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2003
I felt compelled to write a review of this film for several reason. First and foremost because this is one of my all-time favorite films. I never tire of watching this film over and over and sharing with others that have not yet had the pleasure of watching it. I also wanted to write this review because so many younger movie fans immediately dismiss older films and especially black and white films. And lastly, I wanted to put my two cents in after reading the "professional critic's" review... mis-cast??? HOW could there ever be a more perfectly, better cast film???
Gregory Peck, who I had come to revere as Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird" (he is the reason I wanted to become a lawyer when I was child), and Audrey Hepburn has the perfect mix of innocence and fearlessness for her role as the rebellious Princess. Even Eddie Albert as the comedic side-kick was ideal.
This film follows a Princess who, at first glance, lives an enviable life of wealth and fame and glamour. I have always had a hard time finding any compassion for the complaints of similar people be it in real life or on film, but somehow Audrey Hepburn pulls it off and it is not difficult to cheer for her as she experiences such basic things as deciding how her hair should be cut and eating an ice cream. While Gregory Peck is undeniably smooth as the rogue American journalist, he also is able to pull off the needed sleaziness to make his role beleivable. You have to be able to understand his initial motivation does NOT come from a "good place", but merely out of greed and selfishness.... but then you have to also beleive his change of heart and its subtleness. And it works. He doesn't suddenly wake up and have a change of heart. You can see his transformation, or relevation as it may be, over the course of the film.
As a closet romantic I have to say I always secretly hope there will be a better ending (and by "better" I do not mean in terms of movie quality. I mean in terms of a classic "happy ending"). The final scene is heart wrenching, yet the only plausible possible way it could end. I am always left wondering what the heck happened later, despite knowing full well the answer... and it isn't necessarily what we'd all like to imagine. But I respect the fact that the movie doesn't spell it out and doesn't wrap it all up in a lovely bow. Still a tear-jerker ending, but exactly as it should be.
Please see this movie. You will want to own it afterwards I promise. And don't be fooled, it is not just some old, out-dated "chick flick." It's just good. Oh yeah, and that *sigh factor*... HUGE! Enjoy and share with younger audiences so this classic will never be lost to modern blockbusters.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2001
Roman Holiday brought a young, bright, immensely appealing Audrey Hepburn to the attention of the public, and we haven't been the same since. As Princess Anya, she combines grace, warmth, a sweet elegance, curiosity, a believable youthful impetuousness, with a regal bearing.
Gregory Peck is amusing as a conman/ reporter who's too used to fast-talking his way out of any jam. Eddie Albert adds another jovial touch as his photographer buddy, who joins Peck and the Princess on a day-long excursion into the real Rome of the early 1950's. Forget that this movie is in black and white, it's got charm, romance, humor, and a bittersweet romantic ending that left me sighing. Peck's transition from smooth-talking reporter to a man falling in love with the Princess, and "doing right by her" in respecting her privacy and their time together, was credible. How I longed for them to STAY together, after they returned to his apartment, after their eventful night at the dance, near the Castel SantAngelo.
And Audrey's transition from overprotected child Princess, to a woman of substance and depth, and true regal bearing, was breath-taking.
Watch this movie once, then again and again. How perfect for Valentine's Day! How refreshing to watch a "clean" movie with intelligent dialogue, tongue-in-cheek humor, playfulness, and TRUE romance. It's a keeper!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2002
Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn)(by some accounts, based on Britain's Princess Margaret) is on a trade tour for her unnamed European nation. After a highly formal and boring ball (enlivened, in a hysterical scene by the Princess removing her uncomfortable shoe and then losing the shoe!) she rails against her regimented lifestyle and is given a sleeping pill. The half-drugged girl sneaks out of the Roman villa where she's staying, to be discovered by a reporter (Gregory Peck), who takes her home to recover. Peck soon realizes the girl's identity, gathers a photographer with a hidden camera, and takes her out for a day of "enjoying herself", perfect for an expose with lots of candid shots. But he soon finds himself falling for her . . .
No doubt today the movie would end quite differently. But the classic, climactic scene, as they express their never-to-be love in coded words with dozens of others present, sets this movie apart, along with the acting of Peck and Hepburn (for which she won a deserved Oscar), and the many scenes of early-Fifties Rome (watch for the great, ad-libbed scene at the Mouth of Truth), make this movie one of the greatest ever.
In this era of blatant acting, Peck and Hepburn, well-directed by William Wyler, show how much can be done, and better, with a mere facial expression.
You'll love it.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2003
"Roman Holiday" hasn't remained an audience and critical favorite simply based on sentiment. It remains a delightful and romantic tale (undoubtedly rooted in fantasy) that can be viewed repeatedly without losing any charm. The usual synonym for Audrey Hepburn's performance (enchanting) is still true after 50 years. The DVD transfer is one of the best I've seen; if you suspend reality for a while you would swear it was the print of a brand-new film. The clarity and sound are excellent and the extras are a real treat for diehard fans of the movie.
When my aunt finally relented and purchased a DVD player, this was the first movie I sent her to start her collection. What better compliment can there be for this ageless classic?
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Roman holiday-a time of enjoyment derived from the suffering of others.
Well, that's a dictionary's definition, but I guarantee that suffering is the diametric opposite for anyone watching Audrey Hepburn's starring debut. Ms. Hepburn stars as Princess Anne of some unnamed European kingdom. Fed up with her heavily scheduled public relations agenda in the Eternal City, Anne goes into hysterics and flees the palace, but not before the doctor injects her with a powerful sedative. She's rescued by Joe Bradley, a reporter with the American News Service, who takes her to his apartment and being a gentleman, does not take advantage of her in her drugged-out state.
It isn't long before he finds out who she is and after tailing her, "bumps" into her on Rome's Spanish Steps, where she's had a new haircut and enjoying an ice cream. There was difficulty in shooting this scene due to the heckling of spectators.
Bradley enlists the aid of Irving Radovic, a photographer, promising to cut him in on an exclusive story he wants to make on the princess. Some of the things he does to Irving to prevent their game from getting rumbled would only work in this kind of comedy. Together, the princess, ostensibly incognito to her charges, gets the free day she wants. Her half-lie that she's a schoolgirl playing hookey only makes her outing all the more fun.
The title concept holds true as Anne goes walkabout while causing her chaperones much alarm, to the extent of sending men-in-black after her. Also, Anne's excursion takes place in the Eternal City after all. But it's also one for Bradley, whose boss wants him to get an exclusive on the princess, and Bradley's initial exploitative objective eventually turns into a holiday he wants Anne to have. Also, the phrase "Roman holiday" is derived from the gladiatorial contests the ancient Romans enjoyed, especially in the Colisseum, which ironically is where the half-insensate Anne mumbles as her place of residence to Bradley upon their first meeting.
There are also a few bits of slapstick involved. One is the Mouth of Truth scene, the relic sculpted on the Colisseum, a face with eyes and mouth. Legend says that if a liar sticks his/her hand in there, it will be bitten off. Something silly does happen, which I will not reveal.
This was nominated for ten Academy Awards (but not Best Actor!!!) Surely Gregory Peck's solid, dependable, and ultimately romantically touched performance deserved a nomination at least? Eddie Albert (Irving) was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (and lost). It also lost Best Picture, but won for original screenplay and costume design. Hmm, I seem to have forgotten one, but which one? Hmm... All kidding aside, Audrey Hepburn won, beating out Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, and Leslie Caron for Best Actress.
And it took five years for it to reach production. Writer John Dighton was actually blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. Co-writer Ian McClellan Hunter had to act as a front, taking credit for the Oscar-winning story for 40 years until a posthumous Oscar was given to Trumbo's widow.
Shot totally in Rome, this unforgettable movie marked Audrey Hepburn's road to stardom. Her photogenic quality is well demonstrated with a fetching smile, that graceful figure, and of course a charming personality. Watching this movie is itself a Roman holiday.