Roman Holiday

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ann (Hepburn), the crown princess of an unspecified country, has started a widely publicized tour of several European capitals. In Rome she becomes frustrated with her tightly scheduled life. Her doctor gives her a sedative to calm her down and help her sleep, but she secretly leaves her country’s embassy to experience Rome on her own.

The sedative eventually makes her fall asleep on a bench, where Joe Bradley (Peck), an expatriate American reporter working for the Rome Daily American, finds her. Not recognizing her, he offers her money so she can take a taxi home, but a very woozy “Anya Smith” (as she later calls herself) refuses to cooperate. Joe finally decides, for safety’s sake, to let her spend the night in his apartment. He is amused by her regal manner, but less so when she appropriates his bed. He transfers her to a couch. The next morning, Joe, having already slept through the interview Princess Ann was scheduled to give, hurries off to work, leaving her still asleep.

When his editor, Mr. Hennessy (Hartley Power), asks why Joe is late, Joe lies, claiming to have attended the press conference for the princess. Joe makes up details of the alleged interview until Hennessy informs him that the event had been canceled because the princess had suddenly “fallen ill”. Joe sees a picture of her and realizes who is in his apartment. Joe immediately sees the opportunity and proposes getting an exclusive interview for the newspaper for $5000. Hennessy, not knowing the circumstances, agrees to the deal, but bets Joe $500 that he will not succeed.

Joe hurries home and, hiding the fact that he is a reporter, offers to show Anya around Rome. He also surreptitiously calls his photographer friend, Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert), to tag along to secretly take pictures. However, Anya declines Joe’s offer and leaves.

Enjoying her freedom, on a whim, Anya gets her hair cut short in a barbershop. Joe follows and “accidentally” meets her on the Spanish Steps. This time, he convinces her to spend the day with him. They see the sights, including the “Mouth of Truth”, a face carved in marble which is said to bite off the hands of liars. When Joe pulls his hand out of the mouth, it appears to be missing, causing Anya to scream. He then pops his hand out of his sleeve and laughs. (Hepburn’s shriek was not acting—Peck decided to pull a gag he had once seen Red Skelton do, and did not tell his co-star beforehand.)

Later, Anya shares with Joe her dream of living a normal life without her crushing responsibilities. That night, at a dance on a boat, government agents finally track her down and try to escort her away, but a wild melee breaks out and Joe and Anya escape. Through all this, they gradually fall in love, but Anya realizes that a relationship is impossible. She finally bids farewell to Joe and returns to the embassy.

During the course of the day, Hennessy learns that the princess is missing, not ill as claimed. He suspects that Joe knows where she is and tries to get him to admit it, but Joe claims to know nothing about it. Joe decides not to write the story. Irving plans to sell his photographs, but then reluctantly decides not to do so out of friendship.

The next day, Princess Ann appears to answer questions from the press, and is alarmed to find Joe and Irving there. Irving takes her picture with the same miniature cigarette-lighter/camera he had used the previous day. He then presents her with the photographs he had taken, discreetly tucked in an envelope, as a memento of her adventure. Joe lets her know, by allusion, that her secret is safe with them. She, in turn, works into her bland statements a coded message of love and gratitude to Joe. She then departs, leaving Joe to linger for a while, contemplating what might have been


There seems to be an obsession with royals in this day and age that stems back further than I thought it did. Roman Holiday actually shows how obsessed society has been with royalty, but is that major selling point of this film? If so, why even bother watching, right? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Audrey Hepburn stars as a stifled princess who slips away from her guardians and is taken under the wing of a tabloid reporter looking for a scoop.

What did I like?

When in Rome. I blame all those hours I spent jumping around the rooftops of Rome in Assassins Creed II and Assassins Creed: Brotherhood for my love of the scenery in Rome. Not to mention the fact that is just a beautiful city. Seeing Audrey Hepburn tour the city as a wide-eyed tourist was a highlight given the fact that the filmmaker allowed us to see the city through her eyes. I do wish we could have seen more, but that’s just me being selfish.

Green Acres. Growing up, I watched a lot of old TV shows, as if that comes as a surprise. One of the shows that I frequently watched was Green Acres, starring Eddie Albert. I, like many people, know him best for this comedic role and was surprised to see him sporting a beard and a svelte look in this dramatic (albeit comic relief) role.

Audrey. There is a commercial airing now, Diet Coke I believe, which features a woman who resembles Audrey Hepburn, or maybe they spliced some clips from her films like they did a while back with Gene Kelly. At any rate, there is a reason Miss Hepburn is so well-respected for her talents as well as her looks. She can flat-out act! I think she earned an Oscar for this role, which actually meant something back in these days! That is to not mention this was one of her first American movie roles. I may have to go back and watch her better known roles in My Fair Lady, Funny Face, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

What didn’t I like?

Implied actions. At the end of the film, rather than showing actual actions, such as handing over an envelope, it is implied that certain things happen. For the effect the filmmakers were going for, this works. However, one must wonder why not just show those things happen. The extra few seconds really couldn’t have hurt, could they?

Romance. This is a romantic comedy, so obviously the romance takes center stage and had to be believable, right? Thing is, I wasn’t buying the chemistry between Audrey and Gregory Peck. Both are great actors and they’re not phoning it in, but something about them just doesn’t seem to jive. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it is the age thing, but I doubt it, as she’s worked with older men in other films. At any rate, it just wasn’t quite working for me.

The truth will set you free. There is this sculpture in Rome called the Mouth of Truth. Peck’s character plays a prank on Hepburn where his hand was bitten off (the reaction from her was real as he had not told her he was going to do that before…um…hand). This was quite the cute scene and one of the few that shows some chemistry between the two. So, what didn’t I like about it? Nothing, other than it just seemed a bit random in the way it was presented. Other than a picture of the Coliseum, there was no real touring of the sites that we saw, so this was a bit out there.

Maybe it is my love for Aladdin, but I felt that this story of a princess sneaking out to be with the “common folk” was a bit too familiar. Still, Roman Holiday leaves the viewer with a good feeling after all is said and done, never mind the rather downer of an ending. Do I recommend this? As a fan of the classics, yes, but be warned, this is more of a chick flick than you would imagine it to be, but definitely worth checking out!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars


One Response to “Roman Holiday”

  1. […] Gregory Peck’s body of work. Before this, I had only seen him in How the West was Won and Roman Holiday, hardly enough to judge the man’s career. Watching him command the screen when he would show […]

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