Review: Roman Holiday (1953)

When you watch this lovely and charming film about a princess (Audrey Hepburn) who escapes the palace and her duties for 24 hours, spending time in the company with a journalist (Gregory Peck) who thinks he will be able to get a story about the princess,you can’t help but think why life can’t be this carefree and joyful.

Looking at it now, some might find it dated in comparison to to films made today. But I would like to make the point that it was in some respects ahead of its time – for example it is one of the first films to be filmed in its entirety in the place that it was set, which in those days was not a cheap thing to do. It also helped introduce audiences to a place that many had never been to because again travelling to places such as Rome was an expensive business.

Starring Audrey Hepburn in her first major role on film (for this role she won an Oscar – not bad for your first big film role!) and experienced actor Gregory Peck, it is a film that is essentially about following your heart and dreams even if in this case it is only for a brief time.

Although there is no real happy ending for their characters, Hepburn and Peck make the journey fun and humorous (example – the mouth of truth scene which feels as though it was improvised) for the audience as they zoom around Rome.

It is clear from this first proper film role that Hepburn has charm and ease (although she always said she was nervous about doing scenes right up until filming started) that made her perfect for the role. Her quality of innocence that also comes through is also perfect for the character of Ann who has never truly experienced the real world.

Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley, the journalist who discovers Ann sleeping on a bench and only later discovers she is the princess, is also perfectly cast. Full of charm and a kind nature (despite trying to make a story out of his encounter with the princess – which being a romantic film he doesn’t end up doing) it is easy to believe that he would look after the princess in that way. I also get the impression that he looked after Audrey that way on set (not romantically but as a newcomer to Hollywood and its workings).

So what is wrong with the film? Well if I was being really picky, then I would have to say that one or two of the scenes could have perhaps been shortened – such as the press conference we don’t really need to see her shaking hands with all of the press one or two before she gets to Joe would have been sufficient. Hitting the two hour mark for a romantic comedy does seem a little bit extreme.

It is a lovely film that will not fail to put a smile on your face thanks to the wonderfully natural performances of the two leads.

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