Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

The day after Easter is more of a holiday in Europe than it is here in the US, so on this foreign holiday, why not take a Roman Holiday? (Probably because I can hear the groaning all the way from Rome....)

Gregory Peck stars as Joe Bradley, an American journalist in Rome whose job it is to cover the visit of young Princess Anne, who's doing the grand European tour to promote her (unstated) country's interests. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) doesn't exactly enjoy the duties of her office, and as a young woman would like to have some more liberty. So, tired of having to greet a bunch of stuffy old people at a nighttime reception, she decides to run off to see Rome. Unfortunately, her handlers had given her a sedative, so she's in no condition to go out on the town, and ends up in a taxi with Bradley.

Bradley takes this woman back to his apartment, but doesn't realize until the next morning that it's Princess Ann. He realizes that he's got the scoop of the year on his hands, if only he can get the pictures to prove it. So, Joe calls up his photographer friend Irving (Eddie Albert), and gets Irving to tag along with the two of them for the day, secretly taking pictures as Joe takes Princess Ann out for a day on the town. Needless to say, while they're gallivanting around, Joe and Ann fall in love, despite the fact that it's a relationship that can't possibly work out.

Roman Holiday is a delightful movie, part romance and part travelogue; almost as good in the travelogue part as the old Traveltalks shorts (although it would have been nice if the Rome of the early 1950s could have been captured in brilliant Technicolor). The three leads all look like they're having the time of their lives making this movie. Also, the dilemma of how to resolve Joe and Ann's relationship is very well handled. Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for her role, which made her a star. Indeed, she got billing before the title on the insistence of Gregory Peck. He was the male lead, and realized fairly early in the shooting what a remarkable job Hepburn was doing, so he let the producers know that she deserved such a high billing. Roman Holiday is also suitable for the whole family, although boys of a certain age may not care for the romantic part of the plot. (There are good-natured fight scenes to make up for that, however.)

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