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 story and costume design also won.

Roman Holiday
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Screenplay by
Story byDalton Trumbo
Produced byWilliam Wyler
Edited byRobert Swink
Music by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 20, 1953 (1953-08-20) (Venice)
  • August 27, 1953 (1953-08-27) (USA)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million
Box office$12 million
The film's trailer

The script was written by John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo, though with Trumbo on the Hollywood blacklist, he did not receive a credit, and Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for him. Trumbo's name was reinstated when the film was released on DVD in 2003, and 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.[3][4]

The film was shot at the Cinecittà studios and on location around Rome during the "Hollywood on the Tiber" era. The film opened the 14th Venice International Film Festival within the official program.

In 1999, Roman Holiday was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The film has been considered one of the most romantic films in cinema history.[5][6][7]

Plot edit

Crown Princess Ann is on a tightly scheduled tour of European capital cities for her unnamed nation. After an especially hard day in Rome, her doctor gives her an injection and advises: "Best thing I know is to do exactly what you wish for a while." She secretly leaves the embassy to explore the city and, as the drug takes effect, falls asleep atop a low wall, where Joe Bradley, an American reporter, finds her. Not recognizing her, he thinks she is intoxicated and takes her to his apartment to sleep it off.

Joe oversleeps and misses the princess's press conference, but claims to his editor, Hennessy, that he attended. Hennessy shows him a news item about the cancellation of the press conference due to the princess's "sudden illness". Joe realizes the woman in his apartment is the princess from the newspaper photograph. Joe asks Hennessy what he would pay for an exclusive interview with her. Hennessy offers $5000, and counters with a $500 bet that Joe will not be able to get it.

Joe and Ann careen through Rome on a Vespa scooter

Joe calls his photographer friend, Irving Radovich, and offers to show "Anya" around Rome, without revealing that he is a reporter. Ann cites an important appointment and leaves. Joe follows and sees her explore an outdoor market, buy shoes, and get her long hair cut short. Joe contrives to meet her on the Spanish Steps and convinces her to spend the day with him, taking her to a street café to meet up with Irving, who takes pictures with a camera concealed in his cigarette lighter. Ann claims to be playing truant from school. When Ann clumsily drives a Vespa through Roman traffic with Joe as a passenger (shown in the trailer at the one minute mark), they are arrested, but Joe and Irving show their "fake" press passes and are released. They tour the Colosseum. Joe then takes Ann to the Mouth of Truth and tells her the legend attached to it: if a liar puts their hand in the mouth, it will be bitten off. After Ann reluctantly tries it, when it is Joe's turn, he startles her by pretending that his hand was cut off.

At a dance on a boat, agents from Ann's government try to forcibly take her back. Ann joins Joe and Irving in the fight that breaks out. When Joe is knocked into the river, Ann jumps in after him. They swim away and kiss as they sit shivering on the riverbank. While drying their wet clothes at Joe's apartment, a radio bulletin says that the people of Princess Ann's country are concerned that her illness may be serious. Ann asks Joe to drive her to a corner near the embassy, where they kiss again. She bids him a tearful farewell.

Upon her return, the princess replies to those attempting to remind her of her duty, "Were I not completely aware of my duty to my family and my country, I would not have come home tonight..or indeed ever again."

Joe tells a disbelieving Hennessy that he did not get the story, although he tells Irving he cannot stop him from selling the photographs. Joe and Irving attend the postponed press conference, to Princess Ann's surprise. She asserts her faith in relations between nations just as between people, and Joe assures her that her faith is not misplaced. When asked which city she most enjoyed visiting, she begins to say it would be difficult ... before declaring "Rome. By all means, Rome." Other photographers take pictures with their large press cameras, while Irving makes a show of using his cigarette lighter. Ann speaks briefly with each journalist, and Irving presents her with his photographs as a memento of Rome. Joe remains behind after everyone else leaves, before walking from the room.

Cast edit

Casting edit

Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn star as Joe Bradley and Princess Ann

Wyler first offered the role to Hollywood favorite Cary Grant. Grant declined,[8] believing he was too old to play Hepburn's character's love interest, though he would do so ten years later in Charade. Other sources say Grant declined because he knew all of the attention would be centered around the princess.[9] 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.[10]

Wyler had initially considered Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons for the princess role, but both were unavailable.[11] On 18 September 1951, director Thorold Dickinson made a screen test with Hepburn and sent it to director William Wyler, who was in Rome preparing Roman Holiday. Wyler wrote to Dickinson, saying that "as a result of the test, a number of the producers at Paramount have expressed interest in casting her."[12] Roman Holiday was not Hepburn's first acting role, as she had appeared in Dutch and British films from 1948 and on stage, 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: "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."[13]

Filming locations edit

Ann and Joe meet on the Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna

The Italian Ministry of Tourism had originally refused permission for the movie to be filmed in Rome on the grounds that it would "degrade Italians".[14] Once the matter was resolved, filming took place 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.[citation needed]

Locations include:

Reception edit

The film opened the 14th Venice International Film Festival on August 20, 1953.[15] It opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 27, 1953,[2] grossing $165,000 in its first week.[16] The film also opened the same week in two theatres in Portland, Oregon, on a double bill with Murder Without Tears, grossing $14,000.[17]

The film received critical acclaim and is now considered a classic.[18] 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".[19] The New York Times observed that it was "a natural, tender and amusing yarn" with "laughs that leave the spirits soaring".[20] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian noted that the film was a "modern fairytale whose two leads have a charm and innocence that irradiate the whole movie", giving the film five out of five.[21] Empire concluded that the film was a "timeless, exuberant classic, with Hepburn's naïve sense of fun and perfectly charming performance matched equally by Peck's louche and charismatic worldy American".[22] James Berardinelli of reelviews gave the film three and a half out of four, calling the movie a "staple of the romantic comedy fan's library", and "remains one of only a few black-and-white movies that modern audiences willingly watch".[18]

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.[23] It earned an estimated $3 million at the United States and Canadian box office during its first few months of release.[24] While the domestic box office disappointed Paramount, it was very successful elsewhere, including the UK, where the film benefited from both the current 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.[25]

Due to the film's popularity, both Peck and Hepburn were approached about filming a sequel, but this project never got off the ground.[26]

The film has been well received, with a 95% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 63 reviews with an average rating of 8.50/10. 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."[27]

Awards and nominations edit

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[28] Best Motion Picture William Wyler Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Best Supporting Actor Eddie Albert Nominated
Best Screenplay Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton Nominated
Best Story Dalton Trumbo Won
Best Art Direction – Black-and-White Hal Pereira and Walter H. Tyler Nominated
Best Cinematography – Black-and-White Franz Planer and Henri Alekan Nominated
Best Costume Design – Black-and-White Edith Head Won
Best Film Editing Robert Swink Nominated
Bambi Awards Best Actor – International Gregory Peck Nominated
Best Actress – International Audrey Hepburn Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Eddie Albert Nominated
Gregory Peck Nominated
Best British Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures William Wyler Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Audrey Hepburn Won
Huabiao Film Awards Outstanding Translated Foreign Film Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 6th Place
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion William Wyler Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Comedy Ian McLellan Hunter, Dalton Trumbo, and John Dighton Won

Adaptations edit

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.[30] The 1991 Malayalam movie Kilukkam was also reported to be based on this movie,[31] as is the 1968 Turkish film İstanbul Tatili.[citation needed]

The 1999 Richard Curtis film Notting Hill has been likened to "a 90's London-set version of Roman Holiday".[32] 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.[33]

When Lewis Gilbert was making The Adventurers for Paramount, he said Charles Bludhorn, whose company owned the studio, wanted the director to make a musical remake of Roman Holiday with songs by the Sherman Brothers. Gilbert agreed but said Paramount then got "cold feet" and the film was cancelled. The director went on to make Seven Nights in Japan, which was in the style of Roman Holiday.[34] Paramount Pictures has since licensed three musical adaptations of Roman Holiday:

  • In 2012, the Guthrie Theater of Minneapolis presented a musical stage version, following the plot using the songs of Cole Porter with a book adaptation was by Paul Blake (Beautiful: The Carole King Story).[35] It was scheduled for a run in San Francisco in summer 2017 before going on to Broadway.[36][37]
  • The Teatro Sistina staged another version 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 annually performed in Rome and on tour in Italy and Spain.[38]
  • Toho [Japanese Theatre Company] produced a version entirely in Japanese with a completely different score in 1998.[39]

See also edit

  • Basta't Kasama Kita, a 1995 Philippine film with a similar plot
  • Touch Your Heart (Korean: 진심이 닿다; RR: Jinsim-i Data; lit. Reach of Sincerity), a 2019 Korean television series in which there are multiple references to Roman Holiday, including a scene where one of the characters rents a movie theater so he and his girlfriend can watch the film together out of sight of the press.

References edit

  1. ^ Writers Guild of America (December 19, 2011). "WGA Restores Blacklisted Writer Dalton Trumbo's Screen Credit On 'Roman Holiday'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 19, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Roman Holiday at the American Film Institute Catalog
  3. ^ Cheryl Devall, Paige Osburn (December 19, 2011). "Blacklisted writer gets credit restored after 60 years for Oscar-winning film". 89.3 KPCC. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  4. ^ Verrier, Richard (December 19, 2011). "Writers Guild restores screenplay credit to Trumbo for 'Roman Holiday'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  5. ^ Kryza, Andy; Phil de Semlyen (January 18, 2024). "The 100 most romantic films ever made". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  6. ^ Samuel R. Murrian (February 14, 2023). "We Ranked The 75 Best Romantic Movies of All Time, From 'City Lights' to 'Moonlight'". Parade.
  7. ^ Clarke, Cath (October 16, 2010). "Roman Holiday: No 16 best romantic film of all time". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  8. ^ Jaynes, Barbara Grant; Trachtenberg, Robert. Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Turner Entertainment. 2004.
  9. ^ DVD special feature
  10. ^ Fishgall, Gary (2002). Gregory Peck: A Biography. Simon and Schuster. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-6848-5290-4. Archived from the original on November 27, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  11. ^ "Remembering Roman Holiday", special feature on the DVD
  12. ^ BFI Film Forever, January 22, 2014: The letter that made Audrey Hepburn a star Archived 19 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  13. ^ Levy, Shawn (2016). Dolce Vita Confidential. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4746-0615-8.
  14. ^ Colpaert, Stijn (2007). "What has happened to the centre? Cinematic representations of post-war Rome". In Griffiths, Gareth; Chudoba, Minna (eds.). City + Cinema: Essays on the Specificity of Location in Film. Tampere: Datutop. p. 71. ISBN 978-95215-1865-2.
  15. ^ Hawkins, R. F. (August 26, 1953). "Venice Pix Fete Preems With Par Film; Redtape Irks U.S. Majors". Variety. p. 2. Retrieved March 12, 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ "Heat Fails to Wilt B'Way Grosses". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  17. ^ "'Holiday' Smash $14,000, Port.Ace". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 8. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  18. ^ a b Berardinelli, James (May 6, 2021). "Roman Holiday". Reelviews Movie Reviews. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  19. ^ Luban, Miton (August 27, 2019). "'Roman Holiday': THR's 1953 Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 25, 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  20. ^ W, A. (August 28, 1953). "' Roman Holiday' at Music Hall Is Modern Fairy Tale Starring Peck and Audrey Hepburn". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 6, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (July 18, 2013). "Roman Holiday review – charm and innocence by the bucketload". The Guardian. London. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  22. ^ "Roman Holiday". Empire. January 2005. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  23. ^ "12 Biggest Pix Grossers in September Paced by 'Eternity' ('Robe' Excluded)". Variety. October 7, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved September 23, 2019 – via
  24. ^ "Top Grossers of 1953". Variety. January 13, 1954.
  25. ^ Walker, Alexander (1997). "8: Loves and Hates". Audrey: Her Real Story. Macmillan. pp. 83–87. ISBN 978-0-3121-8046-1. Archived from the original on September 15, 2022. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  26. ^ "Roman Holiday (1953) - Articles". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  27. ^ "Roman Holiday (1953)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  28. ^ "NY Times: Roman Holiday". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2007. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  29. ^ McLellan, Dennis (January 12, 2011). "Christopher Trumbo dies at 70; screen and TV writer whose father was blacklisted". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  30. ^ "சுட்ட படம்" [Stolen film]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). March 19, 2016. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  31. ^ "Mollywood movies that ran for more than 300 days". The Times of India. Mumbai. Archived from the original on October 27, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  32. ^ Derek Elley (30 April 1999). "Notting Hill". Variety. Archived November 29, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (March 17, 2014). "My Guilty Pleasure:Notting Hill". The Guardian. London. Archived April 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "Interview with Lewis Gilbert Side 13". British Entertainment History Project. 1996.
  35. ^ "Roman Holiday". Guthrie Theater. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  36. ^ "Stephanie Styles, Drew Gehling, Jarrod Spector, Sara Chase to Star in Roman Holiday". March 2, 2017. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  37. ^ Hetrick, Adam (April 6, 2017). "Broadway-Bound 'Roman Holiday' Musical Sets Complete Cast". Archived April 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Playbill.
    dal 21 ottobre"
    . L'Accademia Sistina. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  39. ^ "Musical Adaptation of Roman Holiday Coming to Tokyo Oct. '98". Playbill. December 22, 1997. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2015.

External links edit