One can’t help but wonder how Roman Holiday would have been different is it was made today instead of in 1953. The Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn classic features a reporter in Rome and an incognito princess both pretending they’re someone else. Of course, he knows she’s playing hooky from her royal family and he’s out to write the story of a lifetime (with photographer pal Eddie Albert in a priceless role). She on the other hand is oblivious to what’s going on. She wants to have a little fun outside the watchful eyes of her keepers. Of course they fall in looooove along the way.
Guys, this is a good thing for you. Stick around to find out why.
After the princess takes a sedative and climbs out her bedroom window, she winds up asleep on a bench, then rescued by Peck and taken to his apartment to sleep it off. Which is odd, because in a frat boy comedy, it’d probably be almost the other way around while played for guffaws. After she wakes, not wanting to return to her princess life just yet, Hepburn accompanies Peck around the city for the titular Roman holiday. Peck, having recognized the princess, secretly compiles a news story about her escape, even as he comes to love the princess and her naïve but perceptive view of a world that is strange to her.
Peck’s character lives in a small apartment on the picturesque Via Margutta, near the Spanish Steps, a beautiful and elegant area of Rome. Much of the film was shot nearby, including the famous sequence with Hepburn’s princess driving a scooter through the streets while Peck hangs on for dear life. We’re also treated to various scenes of the twosome interacting near the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, and Castel San Angelo, a cylindrical fortress used by, among others, various popes. In one scene, Peck and Hepburn visit the Bocca della Verita with Peck explaining to Hepburn the Roman legend that if one tells a lie while one’s hand is in the mouth, the hand will be bitten off. The stars’ interplay, especially Hepburn’s childlike acceptance of the legend, helps with the wonderful chemistry between them that pervades the film and makes it so enjoyable.
This sublime and utterly charming fable rightly secured a best actress Oscar for the divine Audrey Hepburn and resulted in both Hepburn and Rome becoming the epitome of postwar chic. The film could be viewed merely as a love story about a princess who falls for a reporter; however, not intending to detract from the charm of the story, the background is perhaps more interesting: the script was written by the uncredited, blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, a fact not revealed for almost 40 years, and actually deals in some depth with personal freedom and responsibilities, the setting and characters distancing the tale far from the communist witch-hunts in America.
Roman Holiday just has so much charm you can’t help but fall in love with it, especially Hepburn in her first major role. You can’t find much fault with any of the film though admittedly its simple story may not be challenging enough for modern viewers. That said, though we may think we know how things will turn out well in advance of the movie getting there, we don’t.
Will it seal the deal? With. Out. A. Doubt. Trust me on this. I will go ahead and slap the SeriouslyGuarantee on this movie. 99.99% of women out in the world absolutely adore Audrey Hepburn. Use this to your advantage and go forth into the world, young man!
And by world, I mean [Editor’s note: Yeah, we’re gonna go with not putting that out there, Chugs].