Friday, July 13, 2012

Classic Film Reviews: Roman Holiday

Steal away to Rome next week. No need to take vacation days or suffer from jet lag. The 2012 HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival Now with Pepsi and presented with Ralph Lauren will transport you to Europe on holiday, while you watch from a cozy spot on the lawn with your summer picnic. As the original New York Times review points out, Roman Holiday has the breezy airs of a great summer movie, with the ever classic Audrey Hepburn at the helm, paying homage to another european classic - Rome with stunning visuals and cinematography. Enjoy this fun, romantic lark on Monday in Bryant Park. 

Roman Holiday (1953)
'Roman Holiday' at Music Hall Is Modern Fairy Tale Starring Peck and Audrey Hepburn

By A. W.
New York Times
Published: August 28, 1953

There has been a long hiatus between that day when history wore a rose, when princesses and knights-errant in mufti could get into a lovely scrape or two and when the movies could do something about it. That day apparently has passed. For "Roman Holiday," which arrived at the Music Hall yesterday, is a royal lark in the modern idiom about a regal but lonely young thing who has her moment of happiness with an adventurous newspaper man. It is a contrived fable but a bittersweet legend with laughs that leaves the spirits soaring.

Call "Roman Holiday" a credit to William Wyler's versatility. The producer-director, who has been expending his not inconsiderable talents on worthy but serious themes, is herein trying on the mantle of the late Ernst Lubitsch and making it fit fairly well. He certainly is dealing with the formal manners of ultra-high society and, if the unpolished common man is very much in evidence, too, it does not matter because his cast and the visually spectacular backgrounds of Rome, in which this romantic excursion was filmed, also are necessary attributes to this engaging story.

Tender, Amusing Yarn

A viewer with a long memory might recall some plot similarities between "Roman Holiday" and "It Happened One Night." This is not important. Mr. Wyler and his associates have fashioned a natural, tender and amusing yarn about the heiress to the throne of a mythical kingdom who is sick unto death of an unending schedule of speeches, greetings and interviews attendant on her goodwill tour and who suddenly decides to escape from these bonds of propriety. Her accidental meeting with Joe Bradley, the American journalist, and the night she spends in his apartment are cheerful, untarnished and perfectly believable happenstances in which romance understandably begins to bloom.

The director and his scenarists, Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton, have sensibly used the sights and sounds of Rome to dovetail with the facts in their story. Since the newspaper man is anxious to get the exclusive rights to the princess' adventures in the Eternal City, and since he is also anxious to keep her in the dark as to his identity, a Cook's Tour of the Eternal City is both appropriate and visually edifying.

This is not a perfunctory trip. Mr. Wyler and his camera crew have distilled chuckles as well as a sightseeing junket in such stops as the Princess getting a new coiffure; a perfectly wild motorscooter ride through Roman streets, alleys and market places winding up with a session in a police station, and an uproarious dance on one of the barges on the Tiber that terminates with the princess and her swain battling and escaping from the sleuths sent to track her down. The cameras also have captured the raucous sounds and the varied sights of a bustling, workaday Rome; of sidewalk cafes; of the Pantheon; the Forum; and of such various landmarks as the Castel Sant' Angelo and the rococo, mirrored grandeur of the Colonna, Brancaccio and Barberini Palazzi.

Although she is not precisely a newcomer to films Audrey Hepburn, the British actress who is being starred for the first time as Princess Anne, is a slender, elfin and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike in her profound appreciation of newly-found, simple pleasures and love. Although she bravely smiles her acknowledgment of the end of that affair, she remains a pitifully lonely figure facing a stuffy future. Gregory Peck makes a stalwart and manly escort and lover, whose eyes belie his restrained exterior. And it is altogether fitting that he eschews the chance at that exclusive story considering the circumstances.

Eddie Albert is excellent as the bewildered, bewhiskered and breezy photographer who surreptitiously snaps the unwitting princess on her tour. Hartley Power, as the bureau chief of Mr. Peck's news agency; Paolo Carlini, as an amorous barber; Claudio Ermelli, as a janitor; Alberto Rizzo, as a timorous cabbie; Harcourt Williams, Tullio Carminati and Margaret Rawlings, as Miss Hepburn's official aides and an echelon of actual Rome correspondents, help give the proceedings authenticity and flavor. It is a short holiday in which they are involved but an entirely pleasureable one.

Featured on the Music Hall stage are Anne Harvey, Patricia Rayney, George Sawtelle, Clifford Guest, The Rockettes and the Corps de Ballet.

ROMAN HOLIDAY, screen play by Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton; from a story by Mr. Hunter; produced and directed by William Wyler for Paramount. At the Radio City Music Hall.
Joe Bradley . . . . . Gregory Peck
Princess Anne . . . . . Audrey Hepburn
Irving Radovich . . . . . Eddie Albert
Mr. Hennessy (editor) . . . . . Hartley Power
Ambassador . . . . . Harcourt Williams
Countess Vereberg . . . . . Margaret Rawlings
General Provno . . . . . Tullio Carminati
Mario Delani (the barber) . . . . . Paolo Carlini
Giovanni . . . . . Claudio Ermelli
Charwoman . . . . . Paola Borboni
Taxicab Driver . . . . . Alfredo Rizzo
Hennessy's Secretary . . . . . Laura Solari
Shoe Seller . . . . . Gorella Gori
Dr. Bonnachoven . . . . . Heinz Hindrich
Master of Ceremonies . . . . . John Horne
Embassy Aides . . . . . Count Andrea Eszterhazy
Col. Ugo Ballerini
Ugo De Pascale
Bruno Baschiera

1 comment:

  1. Roman holiday is probably one of my favorite movies! I love Audrey, she was a gorgeous woman. It's so sad that nobody shoots such great films nowadays, today they are all about computer effects, 3d, sex and action scenes. Thanks for the post!

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