Roman Holiday
(1953)

"Audrey Hepburn at her Oscar-winning best in an immortal comedy-romance!"

Genre: Comedy - Drama - Romance

Runtime: 118 min

Color: Black and White

Language: English

Plot Synopsis

While touring Rome Princess Ann decides to revolt against her imprisonment in a highly scheduled and trite life. After breaking out of the palace Princess Ann passes out on a bench on the streets of Rome, as she had just been given a shot from a doctor for becoming too worked up. This is when American reported Joe Bradley stumbles upon the Princess. Without knowing her true identity Joe still sees she’s in need, and thus takes her back to his apartment until she sobers up.

But this is short lived, as the next morning Joe sees a photograph of Princess Ann in the newspaper, and then decides to exploit the Princess in order to obtain receive five thousand dollars from his publisher. What follows is a day of leisure as Mr. Bradley, along with his photographer friend Irving Radovich, take Princess Ann throughout Rome, doing various activities that Her Majesty always wanted to do, all the while using Ann in order to get a top story.

However, it all backfires when Joe Bradley begins to fall in love with Princess Ann, and thus decides to scrap the entire story.

Review:

What is sometimes hailed as the greatest romantic comedy of all time almost manages to live up to its hype with an entertaining plot, classic acting, and splendid visual stimulus. However, it feels like there is just a little something missing that prevents this film from receiving one hundred percent praise.

With all classical movies you have to keep in mind that they were made a while back, otherwise the viewing enjoyment won’t be as much as it could be. With this film you can almost disregard that, because Roman Holiday lives as a timeless entity, even though the story might have been used and reused in modern times. Through some clever writing and great directing this film takes the entertainment level very high, even though there are some lows during which your mind is liable to wander for a little while.

Roman Holiday did launch Audrey Hepburn’s acting career, as it was her first starring role, and with good reason to, as her acting is very believable and enjoyable. It’s only brought down by one very melodramatic "You’re tearing me apart!" moment early on in the film during a temper tantrum over her daily schedule. Now mix in a solid acting performance from Gregory Peck, and loads of excellent supporting characters, and you have yourself a very respectable acting squad.

The fact that the film was shot entirely in Rome is essential, and the production team thought so too, as they even have a little announcement in the beginning of the film alerting people to this point. This is really highlighted during the public scenes in the film, where the characters seem to mesh into their surroundings, and with the shots that highlight all of the beautiful architecture. Literally the atmosphere of Rome becomes as important of a character in the film was one of the human beings.

However, what will most likely hit you the most in Roman Holiday is the ending. Even though it is sad and unexpected the ending retains a kind of happiness filled with hope and understanding.

Without a doubt Roman Holiday is a very nice movie experience. It’s sad that it sometimes takes a backseat to Audrey Hepburn’s later films like Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Sabrina. Enjoy.

Director: William Wyler

Cast:

Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann
Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley
Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich
Claudio Ermelli as Giovanni
Margaret Rawlings as Countess Vereberg
Harcourt Williams as Ambassador
Paola Borboni as Charwoman
Hartley Power as Mr. Hennessy
Heinz Hindrich as Dr. Bonnachoven

Academy Awards:

** indicates an awarded nomination

Best Picture
Best Director Nomination for William Wyler
**Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn
**Best Writing (Motion Picture Story) Nomination for Ian McLellan Hunter and Dalton Trumbo
Best Writing Nomination (Screenplay) for Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton
Best Supporting Actor Nomination for Eddie Albert
**Best Costume Nomination for Edith Head
Best Cinematography Nomination for Franz Planer and Henri Akelan
Best Art-Set Direction Nomination for Hal Pereira and Walter H. Tyler
Best Editing Nomination for Robert Swink

Sources:

www.imdb.com
http://www.reelclassics.com/Movies/RomanHoliday/romanholiday-awards.htm

The expression "Roman holiday" had a much less pleasant meaning before the Audrey Hepurn film. Since ancient Romans entertainments such as gladiator contests involved a lot of blood and gore, the earlier use of "Roman Holiday" meant pleasure derived from watching barbarous acts or others' suffering. Eventually any violent public disturbance or scandal could be called a Roman holiday, even if it wasn't the kind of pre-planned thing you could buy tickets to watch.
"There were his young barbarians all at play;
There was their Dacian mother: he, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday!"

Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto iv. Stanza 141.

Merriam-Webster dates the phrase from 1886, but this may only reflect how long it took to become relatively common, since the Oxford English Dictionary says the phrase originates in the Byron poem quoted above, which was written in 1818.

There was also a British band called Roman Holiday who had some minor hits in 1983 but broke up after their second album in 1984. A different band, based in Virginia, now uses the name.

Sources:
http://www.wordreference.com/english/definition.asp?en=Roman+holiday
http://wordsmith.org/awad/archives/0702
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=roman%20holiday
http://www.bartleby.com/61/32/R0293200.html
http://www.askoxford.com/
http://www.m-w.com/
http://www.nik.co.uk/weblog/archives/000949.php
http://www.allmusic.com
http://www.romanholidayrocks.com

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