What a delightful captivating classic, this movie is! Without spoiling the movie directed by William Wyler, too much, based on what's seen; it really did seem like screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo really did hate the tradition fairy tale. Why? It's because, he felt that stories like that, were preventing women from experiencing & understanding the real world. So, he wrote real-world, Cinderella-like story in reverse with powerful people wanting the more simple-common life. Shot entirely on location in Rome, Italy, the film follows the story of a loyal duty regimented, sheltered, princess, Ann (Audrey Hepburn), abandoning her duties for 24/7 for a chance to check out the city, with a not-so-mild-mannered reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), while hiding under a student-like alias from those, looking for her. While, on the surface level, it seems that this concept is unique & ground-breaking; but if you peel back, the nostalgia goggles & see the movie's script as it is. The story from Trumbo isn't anything new. Theater productions have been using the concept of royal incognito as a source of comedy, since the days of Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, and even Ancient Greek. Don't get me wrong, Trumbo is a fine screenwriter; and seeing him, deny work, due to the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s, was a shame, but I don't find, this story to be one of his greatest work. Even the original script set in America with the English princess didn't stand out. It was mediocre enough to sit on the shelf for years, until Paramount Pictures greenlight the project, in order to capitalize on recent real-life event where, Princess Margaret of United Kingdom had a belief relationship with commoner, Peter Townsend. The preproduction was horrible for Trumbo, as it came with lot of rewrites, as the original director, Frank Capra back out, with Wyler coming in, with a demand to set the film, overseas, with Paramount choosing Italy, as the location, due to assets being frozen, there. Added to that pressure, is the fact that the British Government didn't want any mention of their government in the film. Because of the rewrites, Trumbo had to use his friend, Ian McLellan Hunter, as a straw man, in order to meet the demand, while also keeping himself out of the radar from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Due to the pressures, the new script seem delivered in a rushed, yet messy matter. It had a lot of setbacks: mostly when it comes to Ann's true motives for her want for individual freedom. It doesn't make sense for her character to want to trade in, her demanding job as a royal ambassador for a life as a domestic wife. It comes across as very jarring & awkward. Look, I know, it's the standards of 1950s, to pressure young women to get marry, ASAP; but wouldn't the movie work, better, if she wanted to live life without any sense of limitative and boundaries!? You know, to be single, for a while! This movie could had really spark women's interest, more, if it took a more liberation approach. Another thing, wrong about this movie is the climax. Don't get me wrong, I like the bittersweet subliminal nature of it, but I never got how class difference would have prevented either from carrying their relationship further. It's not like she was the highest position in her country's government, nor did it seem, like her country was in the middle of a crisis. Even so, she could had abdicated, if she wanted to. It's not uncommon. So why the unhappy ending!? It seem a little forced. Films like 1927's silent film 'Student Prince of Heidelberg' & 1996's 'The Lion King' did the coming to age-royal concept return, better. In short, it should had, the 1934's screwball comedy, "It Happen One Night' style of an ending. Regardless of that, the film does beautifully hints at the power of memory (symbolized by the photographs Irving gives to the princess), of past experiences to continually affect one's life. I just wish, the movie could had been in color; rather than black & white to make that message, even more powerful. Nevertheless, the film made great use of the locations, even with budget cuts. Sites like the Mouth of Truth & Trevi Fountain are little more iconic now, because of this film. Even, products like the Vespa scooter got a surge in popularity after the film was released. It's all thanks to the skillful, distinguished, professional and eminent work from Wyler & his location crew. Not only that, but studio works, like the music by composers, Georges Auric & Victor Young were also great. Very memorable; but what takes the cake, is the acting performances. While, Peck sounds an overbearing depress father with thundering voice at times; due to his recent separation from his first wife. He was fine for the film, but a part of me, really wanted, Wyler's original choice, Cary Grant in the role. He was a bit questionable as the romantic lead. Nevertheless, it's Aubrey Hepburn who really shines. Thank goodness, Wyler pick her over Elizabeth Taylor for this role. I would hate to see the Princess portray as a spoiled heiress. The fact that Hepburn was basically an unknown actress, whom done small films, before this, heightened the story's plot. Her child-like naiveté and unvarnished innocent-like appearance, really match well with Peck, despite the huge age different. Peck was so satisfy with Hepburn's performance that he suggested Wyler that she get equal billing; which was almost unheard-of gesture for women in Hollywood, at the time. As for Hepburn's Oscar win for Best Actress. It's up in the air, as personally I found the other performances from the other ladies, a little more captivating. Nevertheless, I was really surprise, how many Academy Award nominations, this film got. 3 wins out of ten nominations is pretty damn good. Overall: 'Roman Holiday' remains an unabashed classic for good reasons. It's a must watch. So check it out!
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