With the news the Leicester Curve is presenting a musical adaptation of the classic 1953 film, LLLC’s Emma Clarendon rewatches the film and examines why it is such a classic story.
Filled with romance, two genuinely endearing central performances from Gregory Peck and newcomer Audrey Hepburn and featuring some of the most instantly recognisable sites it is not hard to see why Roman Holiday remains an enduring classic film.
The film follows Princess Ann who is touring Europe and her most recent stop is in Rome. But she is fed up with the rules and restrictions of her royal duties, and chooses to escape and have some fun throughout Rome with the help of journalist Joe Bradley. Filled with fun and adventure, Dalton Trumbo’s original story and William Wyler’s impressively shot film (particularly for its time) work perfectly together to create a wonderfully vibrant and endearing portrait of love and duty.
But it was also a film that was ahead of its time in some respects – particularly with regards to being one of the few films at that time made in its entirety on location in Rome – which I can only imagine caused a little bit of chaos and excitement! Also, it turned out it was a film that was given some added authenticity – given Princess Margaret’s own relationship with ‘commoner’ Peter Townsend adding to the general buzz ahead of the film’s release. Everything feels natural and the audience feel as though they are seeing Rome through the central characters eyes – particularly as Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn zoom around the city on a vespa.
While a lot of the script’s humour is delightfully handled by its cast, it is actually moments such as the mouth of truth moment that add a lot of authenticity to the film – capturing the strong working chemistry between Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn beautifully.
Re-watching this film which was Audrey Hepburn’s first major film role, it is easy to see why she managed to instantly managed to charm audiences and Hollywood as a whole. Her natural playfulness and innocence works wonderfully well in this role of a princess who has been sheltered from life through royal duties, meaning that there is a lovely sincerity in moments such as when she says goodbye to Joe Bradley that really pack a punch. Never do you get a sense of nerves that she must have felt about working on a major Hollywood film.
Elsewhere, Gregory Peck as always is a charismatic lead but never takes away from the fact that it is Princess Ann and Audrey at the centre of the story and a strong key to the film’s success. He offers plenty of warmth and is gently encouraging, highlighting Joe’s increasing respect and fondness for Ann to see her more than a ‘story’ for the newspaper he works for with sincerity but ultimately heartbreak as her royal duties offer a harsh reality check.
Roman Holiday is a refreshing fairytale story because it doesn’t conform to the typical Hollywood fairytale ‘happy ever after’ ending and offers something more realistic and relatable instead.
By Emma Clarendon
Roman Holiday is available to buy here.