Movie review: Roman Holiday (1953)

Looking for a light movie? Roman Holiday fits the bill. In her first starring role, Audrey Hepburn plays opposite Gregory Peck in this romantic comedy.

As Princess Ann, Audrey Hepburn arrives in Rome with an entourage, visiting various countries as part of a good will tour. Her views on a European federation are inquired about, to which she replies that it would be a welcome help to trade relations. (This is an interesting aside given the recent debate in the UK about the benefit of being a part of the EU and possibly pulling out of the union.)

Hepburn was born for the role of royalty, a daughter of a baroness herself. In the movie, the strain of keeping up appearances is too much for the young princess. That evening she has a nervous breakdown and is given a sedative by the doctor. Foreshadowing things to come, the doctor advises her that in situations like these, she should just do exactly what she wants.

And then she promptly disappears for 24 hours.

Cooped up like a bird in a gilded cage, the princess slips out of the palace she is staying in to take in the sites of Rome. However, it is night and she was given a sedative. Gregory Peck finds her sleeping on the side of the road and ends up getting involved with this strange woman, reluctantly taking her back to his place for a night of sleep.

The next day at the newsroom where he works, he sees a photo of her in the newspaper. Realizing that he has the missing princess in his apartment, he agrees to write an exclusive tell-all story about the princess.

The two of them end up making a day and night of it on the town, getting into scrapes with the police. In the end, he falls for the princess and refuses to do a story on her. She returns to her life in the gilded cage knowing that her indiscretions are safe with him.

Roman Holiday is a nice diversion. Shot entirely in Rome, the movie shows a Rome from decades past, recovering from the war and contemplating the benefits of a pan-European federation. Hepburn graces the film with her, well, grace.

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