Customer Review

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's always open season on princesses, May 22, 2004
This review is from: Roman Holiday (Special Collector's Edition) (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2009 6:01:28 PM PDT
Paul Turpin says:
Good review of the movie. I just saw it recently, and it was much better than I expected. With all the talk about Cary Grant turning down the part, I think it was a better movie with Gregory Peck. Your characterization of Grant's style, winking at the camera, was very apt, and even if he had successfully pulled off the romance with Hepburn, I think it may have been a lesser movie. What I liked about Peck's character was the moral struggle he went through. If it had been Grant, the drama would have been all about the romance, but with Peck, it was about being honorable. The romance mattered because it led him (Peck) to see her as a real person, so killing the story became a matter of his own integrity (rather than, say, doing it for her sake in a romantic haze). I see Peck's closing solitary walk away from the press conference to be not just reflections on his love for her, but also his wonder at himself; he is remade, even though they are parted.

Having just seen Hepburn's first three films recently (this one, Love in the Afternoon, and Sabrina), it seems to me that she is not just an ingenue, but plays a coming-of-age character in all three, and her physical charms (which include her posture and movements as well as the amazing transformations of her face in close-ups) complement her ability to portray the seriousness of facing adult pain -- which, of course, heightens the joy of a happy ending for her. But she makes the coming-of-age believable for me. As much as I like Cary Grant, I'm not sure it would have worked with him.

Posted on May 18, 2012 6:37:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2012 6:38:22 PM PDT
JD says:
Why do self-appointed biographers in these forums make it their duty to inform people that Cary Grant would have ruined this film if he took the role of Joe Bradley ? Are these same simpletons forgetting that Grant was an actor himself and was capable of many different acting styles - many of which were serious. Take Notorious for example - he was both serious and troubled in that film and carried his role very well against Ingrid Bergman.
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