Roman Holiday is the original “Princess fleeing from her royal duties and falling in love” story. I’ve seen this kind of story before, but Roman Holiday is the romantic comedy that perfected it. It’s one of the few Oscar nominated William Wyler films that I most wanted to see. How could I pass up the chance to see Atticus Finch and Holly Golightly fall in love. Roman Holiday is responsible for the American debut of the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn’s beauty and elegance was perfectly suited for the European Princess Ann. Ann is so desperate to escape her responsibilities that she leaves her embassy while sedated. It’s on a bench that she encounters Gregory Peck as reporter Joe Bradley.
Their pairing reminded me of It Happened One Night, right down to both of them spending the night together. Though not as scandalous as it sounds. Joe actually seizes the opportunity to write an exclusive about the Princess. They do what she always wanted to do around Rome. Including getting her hair cut into her classic pixie look, touring the Colosseum, smoking a cigarette, eating gelato, and riding a Vespa. Hepburn balances Ann’s regal demeanor, childlike wonder, and conflicted emotions so well that she won an Oscar for Best Actress. Peck wasn’t nominated, but his co-star Eddie Albert was nominated for playing Joe’s bumbling news partner.
Roman Holiday was intended to be shot in color, but it was too expensive. Black & white didn’t stop it from being nominated for Best Picture (and From Here to Eternity ended up winning anyway). Edith Head won one of her many Oscars for Best Costume Design, but Dalton Trumbo was a more controversial win for Best Story. Since he was blacklisted, he couldn’t accept the award in person. Luckily that was cleared up decades later. The slowly blossoming romance is very well written. The ending reminded me of Casablanca since it doesn’t exactly end up happily ever after. Roman Holiday is a day and movie I will never forgotten.