Director: William Wyler
As I may have mentioned before I tend to have something against things that are considered classics. It doesn’t matter what medium it is, books (Jane Austen – turgid romance), music (The Beatles and Elvis – both vastly overrated), film (Citizen Kane – don’t even get me started on this rant, it’s in the book so it is on the cards), or even iconic people (John Lennon – nobody can be that pure and good its just nauseating), you can pretty much guarantee that I will either take an extreme dislike to it or out and out despise it. This seems to be the case with Audrey Hepburn I’m afraid. I’m not disputing that she was a beautiful woman because she really was stunning (throughout her life, not just her time in front of the camera as Hollywood royalty) but for me she just doesn’t really inspire me in the same way that she seems to for others when it comes to her films. Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961) was a perfectly pleasant film but was not life changing like so many people imply it has been for them. The same can be said for Roman Holiday.
As Joshua Klein says, “Roman Holiday itself actually presents the flip side to the Cinderella fable.” (282, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) Hepburn’s Princess Ann escapes her ever constant minders and goes off to explore the city where she meets and, consequently, falls in love with Gregory Peck’s American journalist – all to no avail due to their relative positions in life making the relationship completely untenable. It’s a simple little movie with some glorious scenery thanks to Wyler shooting on location in Rome and it was a great way to spend a miserable winter’s afternoon but it’s not an essential part of my movie collection by any means.
“Peck and Hepburn are excellent as the two mismatched lovers, and Eddie Albert is perfect as Peck’s eager tagalong cameraman.” (282) I’m not sure I would necessarily agree with Klein’s opinion here, although Eddie Albert is memorable as the cameraman and provided a number of laughs. I just think rather a lot of credence has been given to both Peck and Hepburn as the film becomes older. There’s almost a sense of rose-tinted glasses when it comes to Audrey Hepburn, especially. By all means however watch Roman Holiday – it was a lovely film and the footage of Rome is fantastic and certainly made me want to visit. I can’t say that I’m any more enamoured of Hepburn than I was before and my favourite of her roles will continue to be as Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964)
“She’d be cast as the ingenue many more times over in her career, but it was this film that officially and auspiciously marked her arrival.” (282)