Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||William Wyler|
|Produced by||William Wyler|
|Story by||Dalton Trumbo|
|Edited by||Robert Swink|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$12 million|
Roman Holiday is a 1953 American romantic comedy film directed and produced by William Wyler. It stars Audrey Hepburn as a princess out to see Rome on her own and Gregory Peck as a reporter. Hepburn won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance; the screenplay and costume design also won.
The script was written by John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo, though with Trumbo on the Hollywood blacklist, he did not receive a credit; instead, Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for him. Trumbo's credit was reinstated when the film was released on DVD in 2003. On December 19, 2011, full credit for Trumbo's work was restored. Blacklisted director Bernard Vorhaus worked on the film as an assistant director under a pseudonym.
Ann, a crown princess from an unnamed European nation, is on a state visit to Rome, becomes frustrated with her tightly scheduled life, and secretly leaves her country's embassy. The delayed effect of a sedative makes her fall asleep on a bench, where Joe Bradley, an expatriate reporter for the "American News Service", finds her, without recognizing who she is. Thinking that she is intoxicated, Joe lets her spend the night in his apartment.
The next morning, Joe hurries off late to work and gives his editor, Mr. Hennessy, false details of his attendance at the princess' press conference. When Hennessy informs him that the event had been cancelled, and shows him a news item about the princess' "sudden illness" with a picture of her in it, he realizes who is asleep in his apartment. Seeing an opportunity, Joe privately calls his photographer friend, Irving Radovich, to ask him to secretly take pictures. Joe then tells Hennessy that he'll get an exclusive wide-ranging interview with the princess and asks how much that would be worth. Hennessy offers to pay $5000 for the article, but bets Joe $500 that he won't be able to get it.
Joe hurries home, and, hiding the fact that he is a reporter, offers to show his guest, "Anya", around Rome. However, Ann declines Joe's offer and leaves. Enjoying her freedom, she explores an outdoor market, buys a pair of shoes, observes the people and daily-life of Rome, and gets her long hair cut into a short style. Joe follows, and "accidentally" meets Ann on the Spanish Steps. This time, he convinces her to spend the day with him, and takes her to a street café, where he meets up with Irving. They visit the Mouth of Truth, where Joe tricks Ann into thinking that his hand has been bitten off, and later tour the Colosseum. When Anya tries to drive Joe on a Vespa through heavy Roman traffic they are all arrested, but Joe and Irving show their "fake" press passes and the group is set free.
That night, at a dance on a boat that her barber had invited her to, government agents called in by the embassy spot Ann and try to forcibly take her away. Joe, Irving, and the barber rush in to save her from the abductors, and Ann joins in the fight that breaks out. As police arrive and subdue the agents, Joe and Ann run away, but Joe is ambushed, falls into the river, and Ann jumps in to save him. They swim across and kiss as they sit shivering on the riverbank. Later at Joe's apartment, while drying their wet clothes, they share tender bittersweet moments. Knowing that her royal responsibilities must resume, Ann asks Joe to drive her to a corner near the embassy, where they kiss again. She bids a tearful farewell, and returns to assume her duties as a princess.
Hennessy comes to Joe's apartment, suspecting that the princess was not ill as claimed and that Joe was telling the truth about the interview. Joe, however, has decided not to write the story, although Irving arrives and is confused by the change of plans. Joe tells Irving that he is still free to sell his photographs. Joe and Irving then leave to attend the postponed press conference at the embassy and surprise Princess Ann.
Through vague public words, Joe assures Ann that no press exposure will come from their day together. At the end of the interview, the princess unexpectedly asks to meet the journalists, speaking briefly with each. As she reaches Joe and Irving, Irving presents her with his photographs as a memento of Rome. Joe and Ann then speak, with her final words to him being "so happy". After Ann reluctantly departs, and the press leaves, Joe stays for awhile, and then walks away alone.
- Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley
- Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann
- Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich
- Hartley Power as Hennessy, Joe's editor
- Harcourt Williams as the Ambassador of Princess Ann's country
- Margaret Rawlings as Countess Vereberg, Ann's principal lady-in-waiting
- Tullio Carminati as General Provno
- Paolo Carlini as Mario Delani
- Claudio Ermelli as Giovanni
- Paola Borboni as Charwoman
- Laura Solari as Secretary
- Alfredo Rizzo as Taxi Driver
- Gorella Gori as Shoe Seller
- Hans Hinrich as Dr. Bonnachoven
Wyler first offered the role to Hollywood favorite Cary Grant. Grant declined, believing he was too old to play Hepburn's love interest, though he played opposite her ten years later in Charade. Other sources say Grant declined because he knew all of the attention would be centered around the princess. Peck's contract gave him solo star billing, with newcomer Hepburn listed much less prominently in the credits. Halfway through the filming, Peck suggested to Wyler that he elevate her to equal billing—an almost unheard-of gesture in Hollywood.
Wyler had initially considered Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons for this role, but both were unavailable. Wyler was very excited to find Hepburn, but he did not choose her until after a screen test. Wyler was not able to stay and film this himself, but told the assistant director to ask the cameraman and the sound man to continue recording after the assistant director said "cut" so that she would be seen in a relaxed state after having performed a dignified, subdued scene from the film. The candid footage won her the role; some of it was later included in the original theatrical trailer for the film, along with additional screen test footage showing Hepburn trying on some of Ann's costumes and even cutting her own hair (referring to a scene in the film).
Roman Holiday was not Hepburn's first acting role, as she had appeared in Dutch and British films from 1948 and on stage, including the title role in the 1951 Broadway adaptation of Gigi. But it was her first major film role and her first appearance in an American film. Wyler wanted an "anti-Italian" actress who was different from the curvy Italian stars of that era like Gina Lollobrigida: "She was perfect ... his new star had no arse, no tits, no tight-fitting clothes, no high heels. In short a Martian. She will be a sensation."
The film was shot entirely in Rome and in the studios of Cinecittà. It was originally planned to be in color, but filming outside was so expensive that it had to be done in black and white.
- Mouth of Truth, Piazza Bocca della Verità, Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
- Caffè Rocca, Piazza della Rotonda and Pantheon
- Castel Sant'Angelo
- Trevi Fountain
- Piazza Venezia
- Piazza di Spagna
- Trinità dei Monti
- Tiber river
- Via Margutta 51, the location of Joe's apartment where he hosts Princess Ann
- Via dei Fori Imperiali
- Via della Stamperia 85, the barber shop where Ann has her hair cut
- Palazzo Colonna Gallery, shown in the final scenes of the princess's press appearance
- Palazzo Brancaccio, the princess' ornate Roman bedroom.
The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 27, 1953, grossing $165,000 in its first week. The film also opened the same week in two theatres in Portland, Oregon on a double bill with Murder Without Tears, grossing $14,000.
Milton Luban of the Hollywood Reporter said the movie "proves a charming, laugh-provoking affair that often explodes into hilarity....it has a "delightful screenplay that sparkles with wit and outrageous humor that at times comes close to slapstick" and that the "cinematographers do a fine job of incorporating Roman landmarks into the storyline." The New York Times observed that it was "a natural, tender and amusing yarn" with "laughs that leave the spirits soaring."
Roman Holiday was the second most popular film at the US box office during September 1953 behind From Here to Eternity, grossing almost $1 million. It earned an estimated $3 million at the United States and Canadian box office during its first few months of release. While the domestic box office disappointed Paramount, it was very successful elsewhere, including the UK, where the film benefited from both the concurrent romance between Princess Margaret and commoner Peter Townsend—"No film studio could have bought such publicity", Alexander Walker wrote—and a fad for Italian culture.
Due to the film's popularity, both Peck and Hepburn were approached about filming a sequel, but this project never got off the ground.
The film has been very well received, with a 97% "Certified fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 58 reviews with an average rating of 8.41/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "With Audrey Hepburn luminous in her American debut, Roman Holiday is as funny as it is beautiful, and sets the standard for the modern romantic comedy."
Awards and nominations
The Academy Award for Best Story was initially given to Ian McLellan Hunter, since he took story credit on behalf of Dalton Trumbo (who was blacklisted). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later credited the win to Trumbo, and in 1993 Trumbo's widow, Cleo, received her late husband's Oscar.
The film was remade for television in 1987 with Tom Conti and Catherine Oxenberg, who is herself a member of a European royal family. An unofficial Tamil-language adaptation, titled May Madham, was released in 1994.
The Richard Curtis film Notting Hill has been likened to "a 90's London-set version of Roman Holiday". There are a number of allusions to it in the film, in which the princess character is replaced with "Hollywood royalty" and the commoner is a British bookshop owner.
Paramount Pictures has since licensed three adaptations of Roman Holiday into musicals:
- In 2012, a musical stage version, following the plot while using the songs of Cole Porter, was presented in Minneapolis. The book adaptation was done by Paul Blake (Beautiful: The Carole King Story). It was scheduled for a run in San Francisco in summer 2017 before going on to Broadway.
- Another version was staged in 2004 in Rome under the title Vacanze Romane using the Cole Porter score, supplemented with music by Italian film composer Armando Trovajoli. This production is performed annually at the Teatro Sistina in Rome and on tour in Italy and Spain.
- A version entirely in Japanese with a completely different score was produced in 1998 by Toho [Japanese Theatre Company].
- Basta't Kasama Kita, a 1995 Philippine film with a similar plot
- Writers Guild of America (December 19, 2011). "WGA Restores Blacklisted Writer Dalton Trumbo's Screen Credit On 'Roman Holiday'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
- Roman Holiday at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Cheryl Devall, Paige Osburn (December 19, 2011). "Blacklisted writer gets credit restored after 60 years for Oscar-winning film". 89.3 KPCC. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- Verrier, Richard (December 19, 2011). "Writers Guild restores screenplay credit to Trumbo for 'Roman Holiday'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- Jaynes, Barbara Grant; Trachtenberg, Robert. Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Turner Entertainment. 2004.
- DVD special feature
- "Remembering Roman Holiday", special feature on the DVD
- According to Wyler's daughter, the producer Catherine Wyler, in the DVD's special feature "Remembering Roman Holiday".
- Levy, Shawn (2016). Dolce Vita Confidential. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 112. ISBN 9781474606158.
- "Heat Fails to Wilt B'Way Grosses". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via Archive.org.
- "'Holiday' Smash $14,000, Port.Ace". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 8. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via Archive.org.
- "'Roman Holiday': THR's 1953 Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- W, A. (August 28, 1953). "' Roman Holiday' at Music Hall Is Modern Fairy Tale Starring Peck and Audrey Hepburn" – via NYTimes.com.
- "12 Biggest Pix Grossers in September Paced by 'Eternity' ('Robe' Excluded)". Variety. October 7, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved September 23, 2019 – via Archive.org.
- "Top Grossers of 1953". Variety. January 13, 1954.
- Walker, Alexander (1997). "8: Loves and Hates". Audrey: Her Real Story. Macmillan. pp. 83–87. ISBN 0312180462.
- "Roman Holiday (1953) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
- "Roman Holiday (1953)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "NY Times: Roman Holiday". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- McLellan, Dennis (2011-01-12). "Christopher Trumbo dies at 70; screen and TV writer whose father was blacklisted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- "சுட்ட படம்" [Stolen film]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 19 March 2016. Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. (subscription required)
- Derek Elley, Variety, 30 April 1999
- Peter Bradshaw, "My Guilty Pleasure:Notting Hill", The Guardian, 17 March 2014
- "Roman Holiday".
- "Stephanie Styles, Drew Gehling, Jarrod Spector, Sara Chase to Star in Roman Holiday". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
- Hetrick, Adam. "Broadway-Bound 'Roman Holiday' Musical Sets Complete Cast" Playbill, April 6, 2017
- "VACANZE ROMANE
dal 21 ottobre".
- "Musical Adaptation of Roman Holiday Coming to Tokyo Oct. '98 - Playbill".
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