The three-way combination of ingénue Audrey Hepburn, admirable Gregory Peck and the Eternal City itself guarantees that Roman Holiday
(1953) still knocks the socks off any modern rom-com you might care to name. Add to this stellar triumvirate the meticulous, loving direction of William Wyler and a warm-hearted original story by Dalton Trumbo (blacklisted and uncredited at the time) and the result is assuredly one of Hollywood's timeless classics.
At the leading man's own suggestion, newcomer Hepburn was generously accorded equal above-the-title billing with Peck: he knew that the film belonged to her anyway and wasn't one to stand on ceremony. As the princess who chafes at stuffy responsibility Hepburn's appealing girlishness is suffused with a will and wilfulness that rubs delightfully against Peck's more earnest mannerisms (even playing light-hearted comedy, he's still Atticus Finch at heart). The then-unusual decision to shoot entirely on location provides the movie with its glorious travelogue backdrop, and stalwart character-actor Eddie Albert is a fine foil for the two leads. Although Wyler is best known now for the grander vistas of The Big Country and Ben-Hur, none of his epics have as much heart as this.
On the DVD: Roman Holiday comes to DVD in a good digitally restored print--in itself a powerful reason to acquire the movie on disc. Sound is clean Dolby mono. Extras include a brief piece on the film restoration process, and a short documentary about costume designer Edith Head, which isn't specifically about this movie. The 25-minute making-of featurette has recent and archive interviews with cast members, including Peck and Eddie Albert, as well as William Wyler's daughter, plus Hepburn's screen test footage. Still-photo galleries and trailers complete a pleasant selection. --Mark Walker
A modern-day princess 'escapes' from her royal entourage while on a trip to Rome, and while incognito, falls in love with an American newspaperman. Oscar-winning story from then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo was credited to Ian McLellan Hunter. Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay. Academy Awards: 3, including Best Actress-Audrey Hepburn, Best Motion Picture story.
This special edition is to celebrate the anniversary of Audrey Hepburn’s 80th birthday.