Friday, 21 August 2015

Film Friday: Roman Holiday (1953)

This week on Film Friday I bring you 1953's Roman Holiday. Yes, I missed this one and skipped right ahead to The Ladykillers, as my Audrey Hepburn films are mostly in a box set. I missed one other too, so that'll be for next time.

A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome.


Roman Holiday is a 1953 romantic comedy directed and produced by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own. 

Hepburn won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance; the screenplay and costume design also won.

 After filming, Gregory Peck informed the producers that, as Audrey Hepburn was certainly going to win an Oscar (for this, her first major role), they had better put her name above the title. They did and she did.

Paramount originally wanted to shoot this film in Hollywood. Wyler refused, insisting it must be shot on location. They finally agreed, but with a much lower budget. This meant the film would now be in Black and white, not the expected Technicolor, and he would need to cast an unknown actress as the Princess - Audrey Hepburn.

The Roman summer was stiflingly hot, with temperatures in the high 90s. Crowds swarmed over all the locations, making huge impromptu audiences for the actors. Meanwhile, Italy itself was beset with clashes between political parties that resulted in strikes and unrest that threatened to disrupt production.

Much of the film's success was attributed to the public's then fascination with our very own Princess Margaret who was creating a stir over her much publicized relationship with commoner Peter Townsend. 

Roman Holiday was the first American film to be made in its entirety in Italy. 

 The leads' tandem use of the Italian Vespa 2-stroke scooter kindled an unprecedented public interest in the vehicle after the movie's release. 

At the end of production, Paramount Studios presented Audrey with her entire wardrobe from the film, including hats, shoes, handbags, and jewelry. These gifts were intended as wedding presents; however, soon after production, Hepburn ended her engagement to James (later Lord) Hanson, a businessman.

The Embassy Ball sequence featured real Italian nobility, who all donated their salaries to charity. The reporters at the end of the film were real, too. 

Did you know ... that when Gregory Peck came to Italy to shoot the film, he was privately depressed about his recent separation and imminent divorce from his first wife, Greta Kukkonen. However, during the shoot he met and fell in love with a French woman named Veronique. After his divorce, he married her and they remained together for the rest of his life.


  1. This is such an interesting and informative post. I LOVE this film. My husband visited Rome and brought back the film poster for me [all in Italian of course!] Summer blessings x

  2. *Squeal!!!* I love this movie! It really has to be my favourite Audrey film ever. From the delightful plot to the stellar acting, the fabulous outfits to the beautiful scenery (and that it's set in Tony's homeland) I love it all and find Roman Holiday to be one of those movies that I never tire of watching.

    Big hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  3. How nice that Gregory Peck found true love making this film! I remember not being keen on it, but perhaps I should give it another go.


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