Pros: Cast, Visuals, Story, Everything!
Cons: um, it isn't in theatres?
Roman Holiday (1953), Audrey Hepburn’s first starring role is a true classic
If you refuse to watch a black-and-white film, then you are missing out on some of the finest cinematic artistry. Take, for example, William Wyler’s production Roman Holiday. Not only does it tell a great story, but it also shows a visual feast. The film was shot in Italy at a time when the great monuments were in much better condition than they are today, and the camera was held by a true cinematic artist. The directors of photography are Henri Alekan and Frank Planer.
William Wyler is considered one of the best directors of all time, second only to John Ford. Wyler won three Academy Awards for Best Director and Ford won four.
This film did not have a big budget, even by the standards of 1953. The entire budget is estimated at $1.5 million, according to IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046250/ But it was one of the best films of its time and of the romance genre in all times.
When you see William Wyler’s name on a movie, you expect a geat film and hope for a happy ending. You will not find a happy ending here, however, at least not completely happy. It’s a bittersweet romance. It runs 118 minutes in black-and-white, with mono sound, and an aspect ratio of 1.37 : 1, which is not widescreen.
This was Audrey Hepburn’s first starring role. The opening credits say, “Presenting Gregory Peck” and then “Introducing Audrey Hepburn.” They make a great pair, and the chemistry between them is palpable. Audrey Hepburn steals every scene, even though she is working beside one of the finest and most popular actors of the time.
Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Anya (also called Anne), the heir to the throne of an unnamed European country. While on a whirlwind tour in which she attends state events in various countries, she is both spoiled and caged due to her position in society. She longs to experience the life of an ordinary person, but she is naïve and vulnerable. After sneaking out of her country’s embassy in Rome, she meets an American newspaper reporter named Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). When he learns who she is, he sets out to deceive her so he can get a real scoop for his paper.
Eddie Albert (much younger than he was in the TV series “Green Acres”) plays the photographer, Irving Radovich, who helps Gregory Peck.
Of course Anya and Joe fall in love, and they are changed forever. Their lives and their personalities will never be the same again. Princess Anya finds her own personal power, and she will never again be the little girl that the palace hangers-on can push around. Joe Bradley loses his cynical attitude and finds real beauty in his world.
The black-and-white cinematography is breathtaking, especially when it shows the ancient monuments in Rome. The acting is superb. Both Audrey Hepburn and her co-star Gregory Peck demonstrate how a great actor can convey tons of information and meaning with a seemingly simple facial expression. Hepburn’s eyes are captivating.
Roman Holiday gathered ten Academy Award nominations and won three of those awards. Edith Head’s marvelous costumes truly deserve the Academy Award that they won for Best Costume Design in a Black-and-White Film . Eddie Albert was nominated for best supporting actor, and Audrey Hepburn won for best actress. The film was also nominated for Best Director and Best Film of 1953, as well as for Best Cinematography for a Black-and-White Film; Best Film Editing; Best Art Direction and Set Direction for a Black-and-White Film; and Best Screenplay for Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton. It won the Best Story award for Dalton Trumbo.
You will see some slapstick comedy, but overall the story is about love, honesty and respect. Oh, and toss in some duty and honor.
It ends the way it ought to, but not the way I wanted it to end. There is no Cinderella happy ending. The princess has her duty to her family and her country.
Thank you so much for reading my review!