Unrated, 1 hr. 58 min. Directed By: William Wyler. Release Date: Sep 2, 1953. DVD Release: Nov 26, 2002.
It’s taken me only a few of Audrey Hepburn’s movies to make me realize why people loved (and still love) her work. In some ways, and I don’t mean this comparison negatively, so those of you who are inclined to dismiss every movie and film career made in the last thirty years as garbage, please bear with me, Ms. Hepurn was the Sandra Bullock of her day. What I mean by that is that Hepburn, with few exceptions to this rule, plays slight variations on the same character over and over, but that she does it so well that it’s hard to fault her. I haven’t so far, and I’m not going to here. Her portrayal of a princess trapped within the gilded cage of her own life was… utterly charming. Hepburn has a way of playing these savvy but still naïve characters with a believability that I don’t think many actresses of any age could pull off. It would actually be refreshing to see more characters of the type in films today.
About thirty minutes in to this movie, I caught myself grinning like an idiot. I couldn’t help it. A sort of faintly pink, warm, fuzzy glow surrounded the monitor of the laptop computer I was using to watch the DVD and it was infectious. I’ve spent the day sort of lazily going about my business, but I’ve steadily perked up over the run time of the movie. My mood is even elevated. Today wasn’t going to be in the running for the best day of my life, but now I’m kind of in the zone. I have Roman Holiday to thank for that.
The makers of this movie had a fine line to walk. There was serious danger that this would fall on the wrong side of the sweetness line. Too much and you have a syrupy piece of crap that inspires little affection; too little and it’s hard for the audience to get involved with the characters. While this wasn’t a romance per se, it certainly had romantic intentions. Strangely, at the end, it also reminded me a little bit of The Princess Diaries, but to make a comparison between Anne Hathaway and Audrey Hepburn… oh crap, now I just noticed that they have the same initials. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a good comparison, despite a few similarities in choice of roles, at least until Anne Hathaway went on the bender to distance herself from her Disney roles.
I liked the story, despite the unrealistic idea that a princess could escape for a whole day and not be recognized by anyone, even in the 50s. When royalty hits town, it’s always a big deal, and it would be hard to miss photos of the princess in the newspapers (or television, for those folks who would have had access back in the day). I also love the fact that the newspaper reporter’s scheme ended up working like a double edged sword. I won’t go in to more detail than to say that this particular sword could have cut in lots of different ways.
Now I’m wishing there were more Audrey Hepburn movies on my list of recommendations. I think there’s only one more, although Charade made my list of alternates, but I think it was made too late. I’ll double check should one of my other choices not be available for some reason.