Two down, ten to go! I was torn between this and Casablanca for my Feburary blind spot, but I decided on a lighter tone, considering my jam-packed February. Needless to say, this did not disappoint and was a delight. Besides knowing Hepburn for her fashion (as she is a style icon), I haven't seen an entire film of hers - until this one. It helps that the first work of hers I saw was her award winning performance - and she was relatively new in the industry at the time. Now I'm pretty much inspired on having a Hepburn marathon, with the likes of Charade and Breakfast at Tiffany's on the list.
The plot was pretty simple and quite laid out within the first few minutes. Princess Ann was making her rounds at various European countries in order to promote relations between her country and European countries. She has been on the road for weeks, and was complimented how despite her busy schedule, was not feeling any strain of the tour. Her latest stop was Rome, where we later find out that she was exhausted from her royal duties and would like to have a bit of fun. She does - by sneaking off the grounds at night, and later on finding herself in the home of Joe Bradley, a man who took pity on her because she was asleep on the streets. Bradley was a journalist - and when it came apparent that he had just tended to the princess, pretended to be someone else in order to spend the day with her and get an interview, or an exclusive report of some sort.
The film shows various sights of Rome, from the famed Colosseum, down to the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain. One of the immortalized scenes in the film was staged in La Bocca della Verità. - I thought that was the most iconic scene of the film. The tone of the entire work was light - even when she escaped the embassy walls or when they were trying to escape the guards. Even at the final scenes there was no drama, but just a hint of surprise. It also worked as a travelogue - the sights weren't meant to be just scenic backgrounds, but the film takes us to an actual tour of Rome - they do something that tourists do.
Audrey Hepburn was clearly the star - even if she didn't get equal billing with Gregory Peck (whose work in To Kill a Mockingbird is still my absolute favorite). She was a marvel to look at, and how she throws her emotions - shifting freely, as if her mind is similar to a child's - full of wonder. It's quite impossible to take your eyes off her, as her presence commands attention. Her portrayal of Princess Ann was what made her character likable. If it were played by any other actress, it might come off as strong or she might appear to be a protected wallflower, but Hepburn portrayed her with such ease that it wouldn't be surprised if you actually bought the story that she is a princess.
Her chemistry with Peck was good - even if Peck appeared to be ages older than she was. It's actually a bit to make their chemistry work, as Hepburn's character is supposedly young and Peck is already a distinguished man. What I commend about them is how passionate they act. Even if you know it's improbable that they will launch in some kind of relationship, it really seemed that something happened between the two of them during that day. In classic films, when characters hug or kiss, it doesn't immediately lead to sex or a very heavy make out session. There's so much passion in those intimate acts, it seems like when they part, the world would suddenly end. Even when Peck's character just lingers on to catch another glimpse of the princess, you know while it's unlikely to happen, it was a changing experience.
Roman Holiday - in lieu of the love month - is a great film. Not only does it give a tour of Rome, but it touches on the good romantic comedy genre, when the genre was not abysmal. Both Hepburn and Peck were charming, and I can't wait to see their other films.
Final Word: Besides Hepburn being a delight to see, Roman Holiday brings back the good parts of a romantic comedy.
Cast: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert
Director: William Wyler