Film Flick: Roman Holiday

Friday, July 26, 2013

Roman Holiday- the very words conjure up immedient images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck zooming around cobblestone streets on a vespa. Maybe you've seen the film a million times. Maybe you've never seen it at all. It doesn't matter. That iconic image is etched onto our collective memories in such a pervasive way, we all daydream of joining them on a vespa ride too.

Hepburn plays a runaway princess, and Peck a reporter who pretends not to realize her real identity in hopes of getting a news scoop for the ages. Together, along with a photographer pal played by Eddie Albert, they take in the sights of Rome. In one of the most romantic places on Earth, how could love not be it the air? But when torn between love and the duties of their real lives, what will this unlikely pair do?

Alright, so it is never really in question what will happen. The plot is weak in that regard. The characters will Do The Thing. We are not here for the plot though. Hepburn exudes youth and innocence in her breakout role. Though she had had some very minor parts in very minor films before, this was the role that introduced her to the movie-going audiences, and she earned an Oscar for it. At the time, Peck, though a star in his own right, was only known for dramas. He'd been looking to expand into comedy, though almost all romantic comedies had, he'd noted,"[Cary] Grant's fingerprints all over them." Ironically, Grant had originally been considered for the reporter role, but he turned it down, fearing he was too old to play the lover of a young princess. Hepburn and Peck became lifelong friends (and Peck would fall in love- not with Hepburn, but the woman he would be married to for the rest of his life!) while making this film, and it is easy to see on the screen. For example, during the memorable Mouth of Truth scene, Peck adlibs a prank by sticking hand into his sleeve while pretending the monument had bit it off! The actress' sheiks then were the real thing. The two together seem to compliment each other perfectly; the romance underplayed, and subtle, and all the while quite charming. If the plot is weak, we don't care; we come for the moments, the glances these two share. Under-appreciated but no less good was the performance Eddie Albert presents as the photographer helping to get the scoop. There are some moments of delightful physical comedy thanks to Albert and Peck.

As great of a performance as these actors give though, and however landmark they might be to cinema history, they are overshadowed by city itself. Rome is almost a character in her own right with this film. It was shot (with the exception of a brief prologue) entirely on location in Eternal City. In the days when most exotic locales were no more than plaster and wood on a Hollywood backlot, this made the treat even more scrumptious- not only to audiences but to the cast and crew. The joy at being in Rome is evident in every take as we go along with this princess to see all the major sites, stopping every so often for gelato, luxurious lunches, and even the occasional flirtation with an Italian man or two.

So, buy a ticket and get a seat- in front of a screen or on a plane, whichever you choose- and take in a Roman Holiday.


  1. this is my favorite movie EVER from her- i didn't know she won an oscar for it! and gregory peck is such a stud, that's so sweet he met his wife on set :)

    xo marlen
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  2. I ADORE this movie! Alex

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  3. Love Roman Holiday! Definitely one of my favorites - her clothes are AMAZING. Plus, every time I watch it, I want to cut my hair super short - it hasn't happened yet, but maybe one day. :)


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  4. You always seem to find the movies I havent watched!! Perhaps cause I've invested too much time into books :) But I did recently see a cheesy older documentary about Audrey Hepburn on our local PBS and they showed and explained that scene where he's pretending to get his hand hurt. I thought it was so funny and sweet!

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  5. This is such a sweet film, but I'm always sad about how it ends...

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