Wednesday, August 24, 2016
(August 1953, U.S.)
There was a recent 2015 film called TRUMBO with Bryan Cranston in the starring role as the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter responsible for many popular films, including Stanley Kubrick's SPARTACUS (1960) and William Wyler's ROMAN HOLIDAY, which he could not receive credit for, at least not until the black and white classic was released on DVD in 2003. It gives one a moment to pause to consider just how many other great films were written by those that were forced to remain anonymous while blacklisted and instead have another writer "front" for them. The film stars Audrey Hepburn as Ann, the royal crown princess who escapes her family and her position to see the great city of Rome, Italy on her own and Gregory Peck as a reporter looking to take advantage of her inexperience and naiveté in order to land himself a sensational story.
If one were to presume that Hepburn's character was based on a real princess and her real social agenda, then one can only try and appreciate just how frustrating it must be to constantly have to poise one's self in perfect manner, wave to the crowds and repeatedly say bland things like, "Yes" and "Thank you" to everything said to you. One can hardly blame Princess Ann for nearly losing her mind and having a breakdown. When she escapes her surroundings, it's important to remember that she's already been given a strong sedative by her doctor to help calm her down. I say this because once out in Rome, she appears as if she's drunk. The sedative eventually makes her fall asleep on a bench, where Joe Bradley (Peck), an American reporter working for an American news service based in Rome, finds her. He doesn't recognize her at first and offers her money so she can take a taxi home, but a very woozy "Anya Smith" (as she later calls herself) refuses to cooperate. Joe decides to let her spend the night in his apartment and soon sees the opportunity crashing on his bed. An exclusive interview with the right pictures will pay handsomely. Unlike the heartless minds of the traditional paparazzi that we've become all-too familiar with, Joe has a heart and uses much of his time to help Ann have a good time in Rome, including cutting her hair, eating gelato, riding a scooter, and even getting arrested (hey, it's a new experience for Ann!).
As the two of them slowly (and predictably) fall in love, it becomes evident to Princess Ann that she's destined to return to the duties of her royal position, whether she likes it or not. When she does take her proper place once again, she cannot ignore the fact that she's spent the last few days of her life as a simple young girl in the company of a charming man and seeing just a little bit of the world outside of her own sheltered existence; quite literally a Roman holiday. Even when she's standing stiff again and answering questions for the press, we can clearly recognize her attraction and longing to let go and reach out to the man she loves as he stands among the crowd. In the end, however, love loses and life's position and status wins over. It's not a sad situation, however. As the interview with the princess comes to an end, the crowd of journalists and reporters eventually disperses, and Joe is left alone to ponder what might have been...with a smile.
ROMAN HOLIDAY is one of those light-hearted films that has become a staple for not only what defines a romantic classic, but also the monthly schedule for Turner Classic Movies. When you watch it, your mood is lighter and your concentration relaxes a bit because of the story's simplicity. Though, I must confess that I find myself getting a bit serious sometimes when I watch it because I find myself suddenly thinking of just how Princess Diana of Whales died in 1997 largely due to the persistent pursuit and harassment of the paparazzi. Life and art may not always imitate each other, but sometimes it can feel like they've come rather close.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Reporter: "Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?"
General Provno (whispering and prompting) "Each, in its own way..."
Princess Ann: "Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to...Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live."