I was delighted watching the timeless classic Roman Holiday, directed by William Wyler and written by Dalton Trumbo. You will recall that Trumbo did not receive credit for his wonderful story until years after the Academy Award was given in 1954 to Ian McLellan Hunter who fronted for him. This film had Dalton Trumbo’s name in the credits, something they were able to do when they restored the film. Audrey Hepburn won an Academy Award for her performance, and Edith Head netted one for costume design.
The film is black and white and was shot entirely in Rome, Italy. Part of the plot reminded me a little of Sabrina, in that class divisions and the unspoken rules about not mixing together if you’re not from the same station in life are a part of both stories. In Roman Holiday, the commoner is Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), an American journalist, and the nobility is young Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn). Princess Ann longs for a more normal life without the responsibilities of royalty, and elopes from the embassy one dark night to wander the streets of Rome.
Joe Bradley finds her asleep, drugged really, on a park bench, and takes her to his apartment so no harm will come to her. Here is where the best comedic scenes take place, and Audrey gives a sensational performance as the sleepy princess.
Joe discovers who she really is and senses a great story in the works. He enlists the help of his friend, Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert), a photographer who willingly tags along to get exclusive photos of the princess exploring Rome.
I really liked Ann’s exploration of Rome. What would you do if you were playing hooky, which is essentially what the princess is doing? I watched this film with my husband who enjoyed it as well (he is my barometer for whether you can get your man to watch something with you).
We discussed what this screenplay said about Dalton Trumbo and how it reflected who he was and his convictions. People were kind to each other in the story, even when tempers were stretched thin. The princess is gracious to everyone, not just the royalty she has to deal with, or rather put up with, on a day-to-day basis. The class differences seem to have no effect on her.
Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn make a great romantic couple. Gregory Peck was my Mom’s favorite actor, and I could see why. He is a charming, caring man to the Princess, keeping her safe, and ultimately doing the right thing.
I had a Special Collector’s Edition DVD from Netflix and was pleased with the extra features. There were two short films: Roman Holiday: Remembering, and Roman Holiday: Restoring, and a wonderful short film, Edith Head-The Paramount Years.
I highly recommend Roman Holiday. As a screenwriter, I admired the skill with which this story was written, and as a lover of romantic comedy, really appreciated the actors’ chemistry. It’s a wonderful film for “date night”.