Roman Holiday

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Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Produced byWilliam Wyler
Screenplay by
Story byDalton Trumbo
Music by
Edited byRobert Swink
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 27, 1953 (1953-08-27)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million
Box office$12 million

Roman Holiday is a 1953 American romantic comedy film 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.

The script was written by John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo, though with Trumbo on the Hollywood blacklist, he did not receive a credit; instead, Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for him. Trumbo's credit was reinstated when the film was released on DVD in 2003. On December 19, 2011, full credit for Trumbo's work was restored. Blacklisted director Bernard Vorhaus worked on the film as an assistant director under a pseudonym.[3][4]

The film was shot at the Cinecittà studios and on location around Rome during the "Hollywood on the Tiber" era. The film was screened in the 14th Venice Film Festival within the official program.

In 1999, Roman Holiday was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


Ann, a crown princess on a state visit to Rome, becomes frustrated with her tightly scheduled life, and secretly leaves her country's embassy. The delayed effect of a sedative makes her fall asleep on a bench, where Joe Bradley, an expatriate reporter for the "American News Service", finds her, without recognizing who she is. Thinking that she is intoxicated, Joe lets her spend the night in his apartment.

The next morning, Joe hurries off late to work and gives his editor, Mr. Hennessy, false details of his press conference with the princess. When Hennessy informs him that the event had been cancelled, and shows him a news item about her "sudden illness", he realizes who it actually is in his apartment. Seeing an opportunity, Joe proposes getting an exclusive interview with the princess, and Hennessy agrees.

Joe and Ann career through Rome on a Vespa scooter

Joe hurries home, and, hiding the fact that he is a reporter, offers to show his guest "Anya" around Rome. He also calls his photographer friend, Irving Radovich, to tag along and secretly take pictures. However, Ann declines Joe's offer and leaves. Enjoying her freedom, she explores an outdoor market. Joe follows, and "accidentally" meets her on the Spanish Steps. This time, he convinces her to spend the day with him, and takes her to a street café, where he meets up with Irving. Later, when she tries to drive the Vespa on which he has taken her for a ride, they are arrested and only get away with it when he and Irving show their press passes.

That night, at a dance on a boat, government agents called in by the embassy track Ann down and try to force her away. Ann takes part in the fight that breaks out, during which Joe is ambushed and falls into the river and Ann jumps in to save him. After they swim away and police arrest the agents, they share a kiss as they sit shivering on the riverbank. Later, knowing her royal responsibilities must resume, Ann bids a tearful farewell to Joe and returns to the embassy.

Meanwhile, Hennessy has come to suspect that the princess was not ill as claimed and tries to get Joe to admit what he knows about it. Joe, however, has decided not to write the story, although he later tells Irving that he is free to sell his photographs. They then leave for the postponed press conference at the embassy, surprising Princess Ann.

At the end of the interview, the princess unexpectedly asks to meet the journalists, shaking hands and speaking briefly with each. As she reaches Joe and Irving, the latter presents her with an envelope containing the photographs he had taken. After the interview ends, Joe walks away alone.



Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley

Wyler first offered the role to Hollywood favorite Cary Grant. Grant declined,[5] believing he was too old to play Hepburn's love interest (though he played opposite her ten years later in Charade.) Other sources say Grant declined because he knew all of the attention would be centered around the princess.[6] Peck's contract gave him solo star billing, with newcomer Hepburn listed much less prominently in the credits. Halfway through the filming, Peck suggested to Wyler that he elevate her to equal billing—an almost unheard-of gesture in Hollywood.

Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann (Anya "Smitty" Smith)

Wyler had initially considered Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons for this role, but both were unavailable.[7] Wyler was very excited to find Hepburn, but he did not choose her until after a screen test. Wyler was not able to stay and film this himself, but told the assistant director to ask the cameraman and the sound man to continue recording after the assistant director said "cut" so that she would be seen in a relaxed state after having performed a dignified, subdued scene from the film.[8] The candid footage won her the role; some of it was later included in the original theatrical trailer for the film, along with additional screen test footage showing Hepburn trying on some of Ann's costumes and even cutting her own hair (referring to a scene in the film).

Roman Holiday was not Hepburn's first acting appearance (she had appeared in Dutch and British films from 1948; and on stage, including the title role in a Broadway adaptation of Gigi) but it was her first major film role and first appearance in an American film. Wyler wanted an "anti-Italian" actress who was different from the curvy Italian maggiorate like Gina Lollobrigida, and said that "She was perfect ... his new star had no arse, no tits, no tight-fitting clothes, no high heels. In short a Martian. She will be a sensation".[9]

Joe, "Smitty", and Irving al fresco, just before Joe knocks over Irving's chair to silence him.

Filming locations[edit]

The film was shot entirely in Rome and in the studios of Cinecittà:


The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 27, 1953,[2] grossing $165,000 in its first week.[10] The film also opened the same week in two theatres in Portland, Oregon on a double bill with Murder Without Tears grossing $14,000.[11]

It was the second most popular film at the US box office during September 1953 behind From Here to Eternity, grossing almost $1 million.[12] It earned rentals of an estimated $3 million at the United States and Canadian box office during its first year of release.[13]

Due to the film's popularity, both Peck and Hepburn were approached about filming a sequel, but this project never got off the ground.[14]



* Award was initially given to Ian McLellan Hunter, since he took story credit on blacklisted Trumbo's behalf. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later credited the win to Trumbo. In 1993, Trumbo's widow Cleo received her late husband's award.[16]

The film was slated for production in color on the backlot, but filming outside in Rome was so much more expensive that it had to be done in black and white.



In 1999, Roman Holiday was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

American Film Institute included the film as #4 in its AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions, and as #4 in the romantic comedy category in its AFI's 10 Top 10.


The film was remade for television in 1987 with Tom Conti and Catherine Oxenberg, who is herself a member of a European royal family. An unofficial Tamil-language adaptation, titled May Madham, was released in 1994.[17]

The Richard Curtis film Notting Hill has been likened to "a 90's London-set version of Roman Holiday".[18] There are a number of allusions to it in the film, in which the princess character is replaced with "Hollywood royalty" and the commoner is a British bookshop owner.[19]

Paramount Pictures has since licensed three adaptations of Roman Holiday into musicals:

  • In 2012, a musical stage version, following the plot while using the songs of Cole Porter, was presented in Minneapolis. The book adaptation was done by Paul Blake (Beautiful: The Carole King Story).[20] It was scheduled for a run in San Francisco in summer 2017 before going on to Broadway.[21][22]
  • Another version was staged in 2004 in Rome under the title Vacanze Romane using the Cole Porter score, supplemented with music by Italian film composer Armando Trovajoli. This production is performed annually at the Teatro Sistina in Rome and on tour in Italy and Spain.[23]
  • A version entirely in Japanese with a completely different score was produced in 1998 by Toho [Japanese Theatre Company].[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Writers Guild of America (December 19, 2011). "WGA Restores Blacklisted Writer Dalton Trumbo's Screen Credit On 'Roman Holiday'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Roman Holiday at the American Film Institute Catalog
  3. ^ Cheryl Devall, Paige Osburn (December 19, 2011). "Blacklisted writer gets credit restored after 60 years for Oscar-winning film". 89.3 KPCC. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  4. ^ Verrier, Richard (December 19, 2011). "Writers Guild restores screenplay credit to Trumbo for 'Roman Holiday'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  5. ^ Jaynes, Barbara Grant; Trachtenberg, Robert. Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Turner Entertainment. 2004.
  6. ^ DVD special feature
  7. ^ "Remembering Roman Holiday", special feature on the DVD
  8. ^ According to Wyler's daughter, the producer Catherine Wyler, in the DVD's special feature "Remembering Roman Holiday".
  9. ^ Levy, Shawn (2016). Dolce Vita Confidential. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 112. ISBN 9781474606158.
  10. ^ "Heat Fails to Wilt B'Way Grosses". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "'Holiday' Smash $14,000, Port.Ace". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 8. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "12 Biggest Pix Grossers in September Paced by 'Eternity' ('Robe' Excluded)". Variety. October 7, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved September 23, 2019 – via
  13. ^ "Top Grossers of 1953". Variety. January 13, 1954.
  14. ^ "Roman Holiday (1953) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  15. ^ "NY Times: Roman Holiday". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  16. ^ McLellan, Dennis (2011-01-12). "Christopher Trumbo dies at 70; screen and TV writer whose father was blacklisted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
  17. ^ "சுட்ட படம்" [Stolen film]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 19 March 2016. Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. (subscription required)
  18. ^ Derek Elley, Variety, 30 April 1999
  19. ^ Peter Bradshaw, "My Guilty Pleasure:Notting Hill", The Guardian, 17 March 2014
  20. ^ "Roman Holiday".
  21. ^ "Stephanie Styles, Drew Gehling, Jarrod Spector, Sara Chase to Star in Roman Holiday". Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Broadway-Bound 'Roman Holiday' Musical Sets Complete Cast" Playbill, April 6, 2017
    dal 21 ottobre"
  24. ^ "Musical Adaptation of Roman Holiday Coming to Tokyo Oct. '98 - Playbill".

External links[edit]