Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday, 1953, Paramount Pictures.  Starring Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn. Directed by William Wyler. B&W, 118 minutes.

Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), bored with the constraints of her royal life, breaks away from her entourage one night while on tour in Rome and meets Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), a down-on-his-luck American reporter. Ann is the heir to the throne of an unnamed European country, and Joe believes he’s happened upon the interview of a lifetime, one that will bring him back to New York and a “real” reporting job.

Joe doesn’t let on he’s a reporter, nor does he tell Ann that his friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) is a news photographer. The three embark on a Roman adventure that is romantic, eye-opening and enlightening, and finishes with a poignant ending true to the characters and story.

Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck
Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck

Filmed entirely in Rome, this is an elegant film with stars to match. It is funny as well; in addition to the surprising comedic talents of both Hepburn and Peck, Eddie Albert is a wonderful foil to Peck’s more serious, slightly staid reporter as the raucous photographer, and the movie is spotted with Italian character actors who add humor and charm all along the way.

The decision by director William Wyler to film in Italy was a novel one, and it brought that country to American audiences in a way most hadn’t seen before. Travel at that time was less common, and it had only been a few years since the war, so Italy was not considered the prime destination then that it is today.

This was Hepburn’s big screen debut, and she won an Academy Award for her performance as the frustrated princess struggling with her role in society. She wasn’t the first choice for the role, yet her screen test won over both director Wyler and co-star Peck with her natural yet chic style, perfect for the character.

Audrey Hepburn Gregory Peck
Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck

Initially Peck was to be given sole star billing in the film, yet at some point during production he insisted her name be listed at, or near, the top, with his, something he was given a lot of credit for, yet he dismissed as “the obvious thing to do,” noting her fame was going to overtake the film and it would look silly not to have her given higher billing.

The film was nominated for a total of ten Academy Awards, and in addition to Best Actress, won the awards for Best Costume Design, Black & White and Best Writing (Motion Picture Story). The latter award was originally given to Ian McClellan Hunter, who fronted for Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood elite blacklisted at the time. Years later (1993) the Academy corrected the listing for the award and Trumbo now receives credit.

In an off-screen romantic twist, Gregory Peck met his second wife, Veronique Passani, while filming Roman Holiday. Passani was a reporter assigned to interview Peck. They married in 1955 and remained together until his death in 2003.

Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, Audrey Hepburn
Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, Audrey Hepburn

Roman Holiday is truly a classic romantic comedy; it perhaps sets the standard for such. It is classy, charming and endearing, with an ending that is satisfying in all its surprises, a tale of the perfect romance, whose memory will never be marred by day-to-day realities.

Original Theatrical Trailer, featuring Audrey Hepburn’s screen test:

Re-release trailer:






11 thoughts on “Roman Holiday

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  3. The Animation Commendation

    A film I much more appreciated on my second viewing than my first. You’d think that a film starring my fave classic Hollywood actor and actress would have automatically shot to the top of my list, lol, but it took me 2 viewings to really like the film!

    One thing that I personally would have loved to see regarding this film would be a musical adaptation of it. I feel the film is perfect for a musical and many song moments could be included: Princess Ann singing about her ennui w/princess life, Joe Bradley singing about his job, a song they sing during their Roman excursion, a love song once they realize they’re in love, a goodbye song when they can’t be together again, etc. I feel the film is perfect for a musical!

    And I recently learned that the Sherman Brothers (of Disney songwriting fame) actually were working on a musical adaptation of the film and did write some songs for it. The film never got made, but it would be amazing had this project gone through!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Belinda O

      That would be amazing!!! I wonder if the ending would be different in a musical. I love the ending here, to me it leaves them with the memory of one perfect day, but it isn’t a typical romantic finale.

      Liked by 1 person

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