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Roman Holiday, A Hollywood Delight

Updated on August 30, 2011

Roman Holiday

It is often hailed as the perfect film romance. This captivating fairy-tale with a strong comic element became one of Hollywood's biggest international hits and received ten Academy Award nominations, an incredible number for the genre.

The three awards it received were for Best Actress (Hepburn), Best Original Story (given to Ian McLellan Hunter but in 1992 posthumously given to Dalton Trumbo the actual screenplay writer screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the infamous Hollywood Ten who were blacklisted in the 50s.) and Best B/W Costume Design (Edith Head).

In 1999, Roman Holiday was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2002, AFI named Roman Holiday the fourth best love story of all time on its AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions list.

The Original Trailer and Screentest

Basic Story Line

Although scripted very much as a light comedy, the plot also contains its fair share of adventure and excitement. Audrey Hepburn's Princess Anya is tired of the pomp and ceremony of her official duties. One night she slips out in the guise of an everyday girl and meets expatriate American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck).

When Joe eventually  realizes who she is and that he is sitting on the possible scoop of his career, he offers to show Rome to Anya, but not before getting his photographer friend, Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert), to tag along to take pictures. As he gets to know her better he starts to feel bad about taking advantage of her innocence.

 As the two tour the city they realize they are falling in love, but the realities of their situation makes a romance impossible. So they enjoy the city and all its charms, knowing that this short time together may be their last. Eventually, stopping near the embassy, Joe and Anya share a final, passionate kiss before Anya runs off into the night still thinking that Joe does not know her true identity.

 The next day, Princess Anya appears at the delayed news conference, only to find Joe and Irving among the members of the press. Irving takes her picture with the same miniature cigarette lighter/camera he had used the previous day. He then presents her with the photographs he had taken that day, as a memento of her adventure. Joe lets her know, by allusion, that her secret is safe with them. She, in turn, works into her bland press conference statements a coded message of love and gratitude to Joe. She then departs, leaving  a heartbroken Joe (and a tearful audience) to linger for a while, contemplating what might have been.

Main Cast List

AUDREY HEPBURN - Princess Anya

The world fell very quickly in love with newcomer Hepburn, in this, her first starring role after appearing in a few roles in Europe and in a Broadway production of Gigi. The movie catapulted her to the top of the Hollywood tree. Her performance still looks brilliantly fresh and she gets surprising comic mileage out of her girlish innocent abroad act. The film marked the beginning of Hepburn as a bona fide style icon and her simple yet elegant gamine look was imitated by women the world over. She was stunningly beautiful, with a long neck, huge almond-shaped eyes, appropriate lashes, and thick eyebrows that drew attention to the eyes. Her charming English accent (although she was born in Brussels) was the finishing touch -- no one in Hollywood sounded as good. She was noble and elegant - she just LOOKED like a princess. 

GREGORY PECK - Joe Bradley

He was one of Hollywood's most popular film stars, from the 1940s to the 1960s, and played important roles well into the 1990s. After being nominated 4 times he won Best Actor Acadeny Award on his fifth nomination, his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Peck retired from active film-making in 1991, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1989, and Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema in 1996. He died on June 12, 2003.

EDDIE ALBERT - Irving Radovich

The focus rarely moves away from the main stars, but Eddie Albert proves a great comic foil as a highly strung bohemian photographer. A prolific supprting actor for seven decades Albert appeared in more than 70 motion pictures from the late 1930s to the late 1980s. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for Roman Holiday and also for The Heartbreak Kid in 1972 and he achieved fame with Eva Gabor in the popular 1960s television situation comedy Green Acres.  

Harcourt Williams - The Ambassador

Margaret Rawlings - Countess Vereberg,

Tullio Carminati - General Provno

Paola Borboni - Charwoman

Laura Solari - Secretary

 

Audrey Hepburn - Yes she's beautiful!
Audrey Hepburn - Yes she's beautiful!

Audrey Receives Her Oscar

Roman Holiday Tribute

Summary

Roman Holiday is a timeless, classic romance. It has an exuberance and lightness of touch, with Hepburn's seeming naïvety and sense of fun matched perfectly by Peck's charismatic, man of the world performance. It can be watched on many levels. It can be watched for Hepburn's performance alone. 

The movie is witty, warm and beautifully filmed by Franz Planer and Henri Alekan. It lifts you up. It makes you smile. It is an absolute joy. Watch it when you get the chance.

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