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Roman Holiday (1953)


One can’t help but wonder how Roman Holiday would have been different is it was made today instead of in 1953 (Mr. Deeds aped Holiday more closely than its ostensible source material). The Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn classic features a reporter in Rome (Peck) and an incognito princess (Hepburn) — with both pretending they’re someone else. Of course, he knows she’s playing hooky from her royal family and he’s out to write the story of a lifetime (with photographer pal Eddie Albert in a priceless role). She on the other hand is oblivious to what’s going on. She wants to have a little fun outside the watchful eyes of her keepers. Of course they fall in love along the way.

Roman Holiday is one of the most beloved of both Hepburn’s and Peck’s films, a lovely little romance, full of fun and playfulness, stellar performances (Hepburn won an Oscar and Albert was nominated), and all set against the beauty of Rome. Many of its scenes are nothing short of priceless: the ad-libbed moment when Peck sticks his hand into the mouth of a statue and pretends it’s been bitten off (sending Hepburn into hysterics) is absolutely unforgettable.

Roman Holiday just has so much charm you can’t help but fall in love with it, especially Hepburn in her first major role. You can’t find much fault with any of the film — unless’n yer a heartless cad, that is! — though admittedly its simple story may not be challenging enough for modern viewers. That said, though we may think we know how things will turn out well in advance of the movie getting there, we don’t. (But that said, a sequel was once discussed that focused on the happy couple’s children, also on holiday in Rome.)

Highly recommended. The DVD features a radically cleaned-up transfer that makes those old VHS versions seem like a filmstrip. A couple of documentaries are also worth a peek. The new Centennial Collection DVD looks just as good and adds a second disc full of featurettes and extras.

Ice cream holiday.