- rated - HOT! HOT! HOT!
Still gorgeous after all these years
Luckily for me, I was able to see Roman Holiday on the big scene at my
local cinema when they had a "Romantic" revival week recently. I have
seen this film several times over the years, and it just keeps getting
better and better. We all remember how lovely Audrey Hepburn was, and
how handsome and gallant Gregory Peck was (and still is), but I'd
forgotten how witty and knowing the film itself is.
Some of the things I noticed this time around:
· the way the general faints at the sight of a needle
· the fact that the doctor comes in to tend to Princess Ann in
his dressing gown - the little touches of humanity
· the way Ann looks up at the naked ladies carved in the plaster
ceiling above her bed. The fact that Ann talks about people sleeping
· Ann dances only with old men at the reception. Look, the movie
is saying: this is not natural for a young girl
· the lovely and funny scene between Gregory Peck (playing
journalist Joe Bradley) and his editor, when Peck has to obfuscate the
answers the Princess supposedly gave to the interview he never actually
had with the Princess
There are at least two truly sublime moments in Roman Holiday. The
first is the moment when, after she has innocently spent the night with
Joe Bradley Audrey as Princess Ann sits up in bed, smiles and says
"pleased to meet you". This time, I particularly noticed her beautiful
crooked teeth - you don't see to much of that these days, except
perhaps in British films.
The second sublime moment is the scene with the Mouth of Truth. It is
still so charming and natural. You can see the sincere smiles on the
actors' faces - especially Eddy Albert's. In a documentary on Gregory
Peck I saw recently at the 2000 Sydney Film Festival (A Conversation
with Gregory Peck (Barbara Kopple, 1999)), Peck retold the story about
how he hadn't told Audrey quite everything that he was going to do when
he put the hand in the Mouth of Truth, and so when he pulled out his
hand and showed he his "empty" sleeve, she screamed a real scream,
which surprised everyone on set. So what we see is a real fright and
real laughter afterwards. So delightful!
What's particularly interesting for me now, as an Australian in the
year 2000, having been on the losing side of a referendum held on
whether or not we should retain the British monarch as our monarch, is
the view the film takes of monarchy. It pokes fun at the rituals, but
it also makes very telling points about the downside of being a royal.
Towards the end of the film, when Peck is deciding whether or not to
use the material he has gathered from his day incognito with the
Princess, his friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) says: "She's fair
game Joe. It's always open season on Princesses."
This little bit of social commentary struck me this time round, so I
did a little digging and found out that the screenplay was actually
written by blacklisted Hollywood Ten author Dalton Trumbo. In 1993, he
was finally given a posthumous Oscar for the screenplay. The film had
originally won three Oscar awards - one went to Ian McLellan Hunter for
Best Original Story.
The other thing that I like about Roman Holiday is that it resists the
urge for the happy ending. Imagine how strong that urge was: I don't
know whether too many filmmakers could resist it today. Even British
films have begun falling into the happy ending trap: remember the
ludicrous ending of Notting Hill (Roger Michell, 1999)? As if...
But here, in this fairytale movie, there is no happily-ever-after. What
a great film!