Wednesday, January 1, 2014

237 of 1001 Movies: Roman Holiday (1953)

William Wyler is a classic director with movies like Ben Hur, and the famous Roman Holiday under his belt he will always have a name that is talked about lived through movies that still are mentioned regularly and show often. Wyler is also really great about bringing characters to the screen that are rough in nature, but present traits that are human enough to transcend over time in being easy to relate to for an audience no matter what era you're from. With a lot of notable stars in this Roman Holiday is one of the highlights from the 50's, and a classic.

Summary: Princess Anne is staying in Rome with her guardians to hold a conference where she will address the relations they have with the country. Instead of preparing though she is dreaming of what it would be like to be free to roam Rome. She escapes one night, and falls asleep on a bench. Joe Bradley, a journalist, finds her sleeping there, and gives her a place to rest by letting her sleep at his apartment. As soon as he finds out who is staying with him he is excited about the interview details he could get out of her, but he feels for him to open up to him he must keep it secret that he knows she is the princess, and instead treats her to a day in Rome.

Acting: Gregory Peck stars as Joe Bradley, and I think this is a huge step up from the role he had in Spellbound. I can definitely see how Cary Grant was the first choice for this role though, but I think Peck makes the better choice. Grant is a good actor, but he's very silly, and I felt the silliness with Hepburn's ability to be silly would be too much. Peck keeps his character a lot calmer and a bit more difficult to read making his change by the end more enjoyable to watch. Audrey Hepburn is the other actress in the movie as Princess Anne, and depending on what you think of Hepburn will determine how you like this role. She plays the role with a lot of charm, and very over the top cuteness, but it works. This was also her first major role in a movie, and her demeanor shows why she got the part.

Filming: The movie is beautifully shot in black and white. The black and white still captures the dream quality of Rome that Anne is getting to live through, and the shots just bring the movie a lot of life. Whether it's Anne viewing a party from far away in the place she feels captive, or riding the streets of Rome on a moped this movie makes you want to take a visit to Rome.

Plot: The plot is very magical, but I thought the ending kept this movie grounded in feeling a bit more true. That might sound odd if you're watching a movie about a princess that has run off since it sounds akin to a Disney movie, but something about the movie keeps it charming and real. Joe Bradley is a well written character who seems like a guy through most of the movie just wanting a good story, and Anne just wants to experience one of the many places she travels to as if she were living there instead of traveling as royalty. The story just provides a lot feel good feelings, and it doesn't ever get too cheesy romantic. It's romantic, but in a simple toned down way.

Roman Holiday was a movie I would recommend if you're looking for a date movie you both can enjoy, or even if you're single. This movie is NOT about finding the love of your life, but more so the experiences to be had living life. I loved the way the events turned out in the movie. Plus, it's led by actors who balance each other well and have good chemistry.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

Roman Holiday (1953) on IMDb

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