Roman Holiday (1953) – William Wyler

Following my screening of His Girl Friday for the DK Books fantastic, The Movie Book. I have moved on to the What Else to Watch section of the title, and dove into the one film amongst it that I had not yet covered, Roman Holiday.

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert, let me first say, I love the ending of this film, and wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

Peck plays newspaperman, Joe Bradley, who is always on a hunt for a good story, even though he finds his assignment in Rome rather dull. Hepburn plays Princess Ann, who after a whirlwind tour of Europe is close to a breakdown, and exhaustion.

Sneaking out of the palace one night, she ends up wandering the city, and eventually bumps into Bradley. Well, he finds her, what he assumes, drunkenly, on a bench. The two become friends, and spend a full day together, letting the young princess simply be a human being for once.

Unfortunately, Bradley realises pretty quickly who Ann is, and thinks he’s onto the story of his career. Hijacking his favourite photographer Irving Radovich (Albert), Bradley is positive he’s found a ticket back to the States.

As the trio spend the day together, Bradley and Ann grow increasingly close, and both are faced with a moral dilemma – does Ann return to her role as Princess, leaving behind any chance to be seen as just a woman? and Bradley wrestles with the story, its ethics, and his own developing feelings for the beautiful young princess.

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Shot entirely on location in Rome, the film is stunning, and uses the locale and local flavour in the best way possible. Hepburn and Peck make a great pair, whether taking in a street cafe or fighting with undercover palace guards.

This gentle romantic comedy, with the perfect ending, was a joy to watch. Would you believe I had never seen it? And I like the trio of actors in their roles, Albert looked like he was having so much fun.

Hepburn has always been one of my favourite screen legends, and it was great to see her in this, one of her iconic roles. In fact, the entire film has such a sense of joy and romance about it that it’s hard not to get swept up into it.

Sure the film, or at least some of the plot has been reused countless times since then, but it’s never been done better.

And that ending!!

All three turn in wonderfully layered performances, whether they play a moment broadly or not, there is always more going on with all the characters, and this trio is more than able to bring it to the screen.

I may have to watch this one again in the very near future.

Have you seen it? Maybe it’s time for a rewatch, or maybe you should pick up a copy of DK Canada’s The Movie Book, and find something amazing to watch.

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