Princess Anne embarks on a highly publicized tour of European capitals. When she and her royal entourage arrive in Rome, she begins to rebel against her restricted, regimented schedule.
One night Anne sneaks out of her room, hops into the back of a delivery truck and escapes her luxurious confinement. However, a sedative she was forced to take earlier starts to take effect, and the princess is soon fast asleep on a public bench. She is found by Joe Bradley, an American newspaper reporter stationed in Rome. He takes her back to his apartment.
The next morning Joe dashes off to cover the Princess Anne press conference, unaware that she is sleeping on his couch! Once he realizes his good fortune, Joe promises his editor an exclusive interview with the princess.
This is one of my personal favourites with one of my favourite people, Audrey Hepburn.
Gregory Peck ... Joe Bradley
Audrey Hepburn ... Princess Ann
Eddie Albert ... Irving Radovich
Hartley Power ... Mr. Hennessy
Harcourt Williams ... Ambassador
Margaret Rawlings ... Countess Vereberg
Tullio Carminati ... Gen. Provno
Paolo Carlini ... Mario Delani
Claudio Ermelli ... Giovanni
Paola Borboni ... Charwoman
Alfredo Rizzo ... Cab driver
Director: William Wyler
Nominated for 10 Oscars of which it won 3: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Costume Design (Black-and-White), Best Writing (Motion Picture Story)
Codecs: XVid / AC3
PS: You may need to adjust the aspect ratio to 16:9 for optimal viewing.
I recently caught this little gem of a film on a retro program and it was a trip well worth it. William Wyler was a genius directing throughout his film career. Here he's in top form.
The only way this film could have been conceived was with the charming presence of Audrey Hepburn in her first appearance on a Hollywood film. She is without a doubt, an angel who was sent to this earth to delight the movie audiences in whatever movie she happened to dignify with her appearance in.
Some people have compared Audrey Tatou with the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. Seeing Ms Hepburn in Roman Holiday will certainly change the minds of those comparing fans. Audrey Hepburn was a star's star! She exudes charm, intelligence, elegance, and beauty. Just one look from her could disarm Gregory Peck forever.
The only wrong note of this production was the way the writer, Dalton Trumbo, was treated since he had been blacklisted by the anti-communist faction lead by Sen. McCarthy and company. In the end, Mr. Trumbo was vindicated in having his name recognized as the writer of Roman Holiday.
This film is a feast to the eyes in that glorious cinematography and Rome as a background. This was Hollywood at its best. Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn will be forever young any time we take a look at this classic that I'm sure will live and charm its viewers whenever they take a chance to see it for the first time, or like some of us, for another loving look.
I could just write my one line summary over and over again, but that would make for a rather dull comment, so I won't (stop cheering in the balcony!). In addition to the wonderful Ms. Hepburn, Gregory Peck does his typically superb job and Eddie Albert turns in a delightful (but no doubt painful, for him) performance in this incredibly charming jewel of a film. This film made me an incurable romantic for life!
One of the finest movies ever made. Now will you please stop reading this review and watch the movie, for heaven's sake?
* When filming the scene where the princess (Audrey Hepburn) says her goodbyes to Joe, the inexperienced Hepburn was unable to produce the necessary tears, eventually causing director William Wyler to complain at the number of wasted takes. Hepburn promptly burst into tears and the scene was filmed successfully.
* Part of the joke where Joe (Gregory Peck) pretends that his hand was bitten off in the mouth of the stone carving was ad-libbed by Peck; when he pulled his hand from the mouth, he hid his hand in his sleeve, borrowing the gag from Red Skelton. This addition surprised Hepburn, and the scene was finished in one take.
* After filming, Gregory Peck informed the producers that, as Audrey Hepburn was certainly going to win an Oscar (for this, her first major role), they had better put her name above the title. They did and she did.
* William Wyler at first wanted Jean Simmons to play Ann, and reportedly nearly canceled the project when Simmons proved unavailable.
* Audrey Hepburn won the role of Ann thanks to a legendary screen test. In it, she performed one of the scenes from the film, but the cameraman was instructed to keep the cameras rolling after the director said, "Cut." Several minutes of unrehearsed, spontaneous Hepburn was thus captured on film and this, combined with some candid interview footage, won her the role.
* The original writer, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted as one of the legendary Hollywood Ten, and therefore could not receive credit for the screenplay, even when it won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Instead, his friend, Ian McLellan Hunter, took credit for the story and accepted the Oscar. Trumbo's wife, Cleo, was finally presented with the award in 1993, long after his death in 1976. The Oscar she received was actually a second one, because Hunter's son wouldn't give up his father's Oscar. Thus, two awards for Best Screenplay of 1953 exist. The story credit was corrected to credit Trumbo when the restored edition was released in 2002, nearly fifty years after the original release.
* By the time he got the script for this film, Gregory Peck was hungry to do a comedy (he had not been in a comedy on film) and jumped at this opportunity. He later said that, at the time, he felt like every romantic comedy script he had the chance to read "had the fingerprints of Cary Grant on it".
* At the beginning of the movie, the elder gentleman dancing with princess Ann says to her, in Italian: "I want absolutely to die on the ship!"
* Joe pays a price of 1000 lire to the taxi driver (and tips him of another 1000, with no change, to persuade him to take Ann with him). This is about 17 U.S. dollars (of 2005).
* The story was originally optioned by Frank Capra in 1949, who had hoped to cast Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor in what would essentially amount to being a variation on his Oscar-winning classic, It Happened One Night (1934). However, Capra's Liberty Films production company was beset with financial problems and he was forced to sell the property to Paramount where a combination of political timidity (Capra discovered the involvement of blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo) and a tight budget prompted him to withdraw from the project. William Wyler however had no compunctions whatsoever about working with Trumbo.
* George Stevens was the next director to inherit the project after Frank Capra baled but he declined to pursue it. The property was then offered to William Wyler, who was coming off the back of two very weighty dramatic movies - The Heiress (1949) and Detective Story (1951) - and was only too glad to tackle a light romantic comedy, his first since the mid 1930s. Wyler was also very keen to work abroad in order to exploit a tax loophole.
* Paramount had assets frozen in Italy and was delighted to take advantage of the opportunity to film in Rome.
* Gregory Peck's role was originally written with Cary Grant in mind. Grant, however, turned the role down as he believed he was too old to play Audrey Hepburn's love interest. He did however play her on-screen love ten years later in Charade (1963). The two became firm friends working on the film, and Grant considered her one of his favorite actresses to work with.
* With a budget of about $1.5 million, the film took $5 million in the domestic market.
* Shot in black and white so that the characters wouldn't be upstaged by the romantic setting of Rome.
* The first American film to be made in its entirety in Italy.
* The Roman summer was stiflingly hot, with the temperatures in the high 90s. Crowds swarmed over all the locations, making huge impromptu audiences for the actors. Meanwhile, Italy itself was beset with clashes between political parties that resulted in strikes and unrest that threatened to disrupt production.
* The Embassy Ball sequence featured real Italian nobility, who all donated their salaries to charity. The reporters at the end of the film were real too.
* When Gregory Peck came to Italy to shoot the movie, he was privately depressed about his recent separation and imminent divorce from his first wife, Greta. However, during the shot he met and fell in love with a French woman named Veronique Passani. After his divorce, he married Passani and they remained together for the rest of his life.
* Gregory Peck was initially reluctant to take on a part that was clearly secondary to the young female lead until he realized that his image could do with some lightening up.
* First choices for the part of the princess were Jean Simmons and Suzanne Cloutier. Elizabeth Taylor was also considered for the part. Both Taylor and Simmons had to be immediately ruled out as they were embroiled with other projects at the time.
* A lot of the film's success was attributed to the public's then fascination with Britain's Princess Margaret who was creating a stir over her much publicized relationship with commoner Peter Townsend. (The Princess was forced to renounce her true love because he was divorced and marry more "suitably".)
* One of the reasons why William Wyler was anxious to film in Europe was because he wanted to put some distance between himself and the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was threatening to embroil him in their investigations because of his liberal stance.
* Both Ben Hecht and Preston Sturges are said to have been script doctors on the project.
* At the end of production, Paramount Studios presented Audrey Hepburn with her entire wardrobe from the film, including hats, shoes, handbags, and jewelry. These gifts were intended as wedding presents; however, soon after production, Hepburn ended her engagement to James Hanson.
* Ann and Joe get into an argument over which poet wrote the words that Ann quotes, "Arethusa rose from her couch of snows in the Acroceraunian mountains." Joe was right; Mary Shelley wrote those words. They are taken from her poem "Proserpine and Midas."
William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the lack of an obvious "signature" in his diverse body of work denies him the honorific "auteur" that has become a standard measure of greatness in the post-"Cahiers du Cinema" critical community. Estimable, but inferior, directors typically are praised more than is Wyler, due to an obviousness of style that makes it easy to encapsulate their work. However, no American director after D.W. Griffith and the early Cecil B. DeMille, not even the great Orson Welles, did as much to fully develop the basic canon of filmmaking technique than did Wyler--once again, with the caveat of John Ford.
William Wyler's directorial career spanned 45 years, from silent pictures to the cultural revolution of the 1970s. Nominated a record 12 times for an Academy Award as Best Director, he won three and in 1966, was honored with the Irving Thalberg Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' ultimate accolade for a producer. So high was his reputation in his lifetime that he was the fourth recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, after Ford, James Cagney and Welles. Along with Ford and Welles, Wyler ranks with the best and most influential American directors, including Griffith, DeMille, Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.