Thursday, 19 March 2015

March Blindspot: Roman Holiday

March Blindspot
Roman Holiday (1953)
Directed by William Wyler
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck

I am sadly really lacking in my viewings of Audrey Hepburn films. Until now, the only other one I had seen was My Fair Lady, and that was for my Best Picture project. Roman Holiday is a classic and is the film that Audrey Hepburn won her sole acting Oscar for. As well, it was her first film in a lead role.

The film has a pretty typical romantic comedy story line. Audrey Hepburn plays Anne, a sheltered and protected young Princess. She's touring Europe, and, while in Rome, she gets tired of her schedule and just wants to go out and have fun. After being given some medicine to make her sleep, she decides to sneak out of the Embassy and tour Rome for a few hours. She hops in the back on a truck leaving the Embassy and hops off at the Trevi Fountain. It's not long after that we meet Joe Bradley, an American newspaper man. He has an interview with the Princess Anne the next morning and is making his way home after a poker game when he comes along a young woman, sleeping in the ledge of a fountain, mumbling to herself. Taking pity on her, he tries to take her home, but when she doesn't say where she lives, Joe takes her home with him, letting her sleep at his place. However, it's the next morning, when he see's in the newspaper that Princess Anne is ill, see's her photo, and realizes exactly who he has in his apartment. He proposes a bet to his boss that he can get an exclusive interview with the Princess. And not just about politics but about everything personal. Upon finally waking up, Joe convinces Anne (calling her Anya) to spend the day to herself and do all the things she wants to in Rome.

I know I took a long time explaining it, but, as you can see, there have been dozens of films similar to this. Rich people hiding their identity, trying to live their life and get escorted by a good looking reported, only looking for a story but they fall for each other.

But that's not to take anything away from this film. Audrey Hepburn was great in this. I'm not sure if it's a performance that would garner an Oscar there days, but it is still a fine performance. Also, she's so young! She was probably 23 or 24 when this filmed and she definitely looks that old. It's crazy to watch her in this and realize she's the same age as I am now and won an Oscar! Young Audrey Hepburn, pre-haircut in this film, reminded me a bit of Rooney Mara. If it ever gets remade, please cast Rooney Mara. However, please don't ever remake this because goodness knows it'll never be nearly as good.

As well, Gregory Peck was quite a bit older than Hepburn here. He is 13 years older than her, and I could definitely tell while watching the film. It wasn't too much the age difference but he did get a little creepy stalker-ish. I know it's supposed to be cute (and it is) but the part where he's talking to a young school girl and trying to take her camera so he can get photos of Princess Anne for his interview was a little weird.

However, this was just a fun movie. It's a well done romantic comedy, and there is definitely room in my life for movies like this. It's similar to many movies I've seen (no doubt made with Roman Holiday in made, either consciously or unconsciously) but it's done so much better than films like it. Hepburn and Peck had great energy and chemistry together. Even if there was a bit of an age gap, they worked so well together and it's a pairing I would've loved to have seen more of. I'm going to talk about the end, since it's not spoilery and this movie came on over 60 years ago. But the ending I really liked because Anne went back to being a Princess, out of duty to her family and country. And Joe gives her all the photos her took on their "holiday" at a press interview held for all the press to come and ask questions. She is reassured that, even though she discovers Joe was a news reporter, he isn't going to write a story about their time together. They go their separate ways and their story is over. They don't have a scene where she discovers, and gets really mad and leaves only to rekindle with him. Anne doesn't find out until he's at the press interview and, while you can tell she's angry, Joe simply hands the photos over and he goes on his way. No explaining, no tears. I'm glad they didn't try to force Anne and Joe to get together in the end, because it wouldn't have made a lot of sense. It was a holiday for them and that's it. It was a realistic ending without being too sappy and I appreciated that a lot.

The only disappointment is that we don't actually get to know Anne or Joe all that well. We stay surface level, which works fine with the film, but it would've been nicer to dig a little deeper into their stories. However, Roman Holiday is really about a moment, and when it's over, it's gone. It's about that fleeting instance of meeting a person and then having them leave your life. So it made sense that we stayed surface level, but I would've felt a little more drawn to the characters had we dug a little deeper. However, this is an extremely minor complain as both actors player their roles so well and made the film a lot of fun that this complain only came 18 hours after watching, and wasn't something I immediately felt was missing.

In the end, it's a film I quite enjoyed and I'm happy I finally got around to watching it. I love Gregory Peck and it's great to see more of Audrey Hepburn. While I'm not nearly as fascinated or enraptured with her as some other people, she proves again that she is a fine and classy actress and I look forward to seeing more of her films, and it's always fun seeing more of Gregory Peck.

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