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Customer Review

199 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most romantic movie ever made, May 16, 2004
This review is from: Roman Holiday [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 3, 2008 8:13:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 3, 2008 8:14:14 AM PDT
Superb review. Deservedly in the "spotlight" with so many other of your fine reviews -- insightful and beautifully-written! You captured the heart of what makes this (arguably) the most romantic movie ever made:

"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."

Left a "helpful" -- hope my vote shows up for a change!

Mark B of the (frozen-again) North (scraped ice off my car windshield this morning -- the start of our "9 month winter" here in the world's "coldest major city" -- according to the U.S. consular service.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2008 4:15:53 PM PDT
Thanks, Mark. Winnipeg may be very cold this winter, but I see a warming trend coming on... ;-)

Posted on May 17, 2012 8:37:02 PM PDT
The title of your review says it. No question.

Posted on Jul 13, 2013 5:57:31 PM PDT
Your review was a lyrical and soulful as the film itself. Thank you.

Posted on Dec 6, 2014 2:17:14 PM PST
john9292 says:
The Ghost & Mrs Muir Season 1 Disc 1 TV Series Hope Lange
The Ghost & Mrs Muir Season 1 Disc 2 TV Series Hope Lange
I loved this classic I also purchased the Ghost and Mrs Muir so I highly recommend these products especially for gift this year

Posted on Mar 18, 2016 11:20:43 PM PDT
Sakuteiki says:
Trumbo [Blu-ray] 2015 Bryan Cranston Diane Lane Helen Mirren Elle Fanning John Goodman Alan Tudyk Louis C.K. biopic of Dalton Trumbo one of the Blacklisted Hollywood 10 writers, The Majestic Jim Carrey, targeted by Hedda Hopper, John Wayne and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Trumbo composed 1953 Roman Holiday under the name of friend Ian McLellan Hunter.

After prison release and blacklisted writing under pseudonyms, Trumbo was finally credited for his work under his own name in 1960 Spartacus Kirk Douglas. Trumbo is portrayed by Bryan Cranston, who won a Tony for Best Actor in All The Way depicting the intensity of another motivated focused man LBJ and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Selma David Oyelowo.
Trumbo 2007 documentary Dalton Trumbo with archival footage and interviews from colleagues Joan Allen Brian Dennehy Michael Douglas Paul Giamatti Nathan Lane Josh Lucas Liam Neeson David Straithairn Donald Sutherland Kirk Douglas Dustin Hoffman Lauren Bacall Humphrey Bogart Winston Churchill Walt Disney J Edgar Hoover Ring Lardner Jr Joseph McCarthy Otto Preminger Joseph Stalin Robert Taylor Elia Kazan.

The Dalai Lama muses that if he had not been driven out of complacency from Lhasa to Dharamsala, he would still be an unknown monk meditating in Tibet Seven Years In Tibet Brad Pitt. The irony is that the attempt to suppress Buddhism actually led to widespread curiosity interest and examination of esoteric Buddhist thought. The attack on Buddhism resulted in compassion meditation and being present becoming disseminated as tools for self healing growth globally Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) Eline Snell, Dhamma Brothers documentary meditation training.

In the same way, the attempt to muffle Trumbo's voice through imprisonment, shunning, denying him work, led to his generating multitudes of pseudonymous scripts which is craft practice for improving writing skill. The dissemination and viewing of the numerous scripts which he wrote or edited under fabricated names may have touched more viewers than might have had exposure to his writing had he not been blacklisted.

Creative meaningful work is a gift. Thank you for noting the subterfuge blacklisted Trumbo used to sell his Roman Holiday script which won Oscar for Best Screenplay under writer Ian McLellan Hunter's name.
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Dennis Littrell

Location: SoCal/NorCal/Maui

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,258