This black-and-white classic romantic comedy from 1953 stars Audrey Hepburn as a young Princess who goes on a goodwill tour of Europe and unexpectedly falls in love.
Recently ranked as the fifth best romantic comedy by the American Film Institute (AFI), Roman Holiday won three Academy Awards: Hepburn won for best actress; Edith Head won for best costume design in a black-and-white film; and blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo won for best writing (motion picture story). The film was nominated for seven more additional Oscars.
A Tour of Rome
While in Rome, the very bored Princess Ann (Hepburn in her first role) sneaks out of the embassy one night to mingle with the common folks and find out what she’s been missing all her life. Pretending to be “Anya Smith,” her first commoner is Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) a rude newspaper reporter who desperately needs to sell a high-paying article. He quickly realizes Princess Ann’s concealed identity and uses her subterfuge to his own advantage.
Joe receives an assignment for $5,000 from the American News Service for an exclusive article on the private side of the princess, and gets help from his photographer friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) to snap lots of photographs as proof. To get on her good side (and get lots of photo opportunities), the two men take her on a magical trip through the city, granting her every wish to live like a regular woman.
An (Almost) Cinderella Story
Princess Ann’s uppity attitude and Joe’s ungentlemanly behavior provide the momentum for the building romance. On a “holiday” from her usual duties of shaking hands with nobility, wearing uncomfortable clothes, and sitting through boring dinners, she explores the outdoor marketplace, gets a makeover at a hair salon, drinks champagne at a sidewalk café, rides a motor scooter, gets arrested, dances under the stars, and visits the “wall of wishes” during her day with Joe.
Although the exact opposite of a rags-to-riches story, Princess Ann describes herself as Cinderella, fearing that she will “turn into a pumpkin and drive away in a glass slipper at midnight.” Her wealth and power dispute her claim to Cinderella status, but her feelings of responsibility and entrapment parallel the sentiments of the downtrodden fairy tale maiden. The greedy reporter is no Prince Charming either, but he does learn something during their storybook day together exploring Rome.
- Roman Holiday (Special Collector’s Edition DVD)
- Director: William Wyler
- Run Time: 118 minutes
- Rating: Unrated (comparable to a PG)
- DVD Features: Documentaries “Remembering Roman Holiday,” “Restoring Roman Holiday,” and “Edith Head – The Paramount Years.” Also includes photo gallery, trailers, and subtitle options.