by Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, and Dalton Trumbo (screenplay)
Sarah: I had my hair cut this week, and as I got in the car, I thought that having very short hair is very appropriate for watching this film.
“And Introducing Audrey Hepburn…” Oh, we have met, I assure you.
I love the long opening credits. And Edith Head did the costumes! Of course she did.
This is a trope that works for me – individual bound by a massive weight of duty and expectation finds a temporary escape to be themselves or the opposite of their lives. It’s a lovely mix of behind-the-scenes and public self vs. private self, both of which I love.
CarrieS: If I were going to present her with stuff it would be cookies, tennis shoes, and a puppy.
“I’m just being veeery happyyyy” yes dear, I know that’s exactly what happens to me when I eat creme brulee. No lie.
Sarah: I also love the tension in the boring “please meet everyone” scene where she nearly loses a shoe, and then the Cinderella reference when she can’t get it back on in time. Adorable. Also the relief that they helped her avoid a breach of protocol.
Though I question the protocol that requires all these people from different countries bowing to her
CarrieS: What is it about Italy and romance? How many romance movies have we looked at so far with an Italian theme?
Sarah: That said: here is some fun, though not sourced trivia:
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.
CarrieS: If there’s anything we should have learned from romantic comedy it’s, “Never make a bet.”
“What would you do for $5000” is a line with strange overtones when it’s spoken by one guy to another while grappling in a bar.
Sarah: “It’s nerves. Control yourself, Ann.”
Bugger off, lady! Girl is dramatically upset and it’s totally earned. And she gets a royal sedative.
Sarah: Nighttime gallivanting with a sedative in your bloodstream seems like a bad idea. But if you’re going to pass out on a low fence, Gregory Peck is the best thing that could happen, I think.
CarrieS: Peck improvised the Mouth of Truth so her reaction is genuine.
Sarah: I love the “dance” on the staircase going to his room.
“I’m terribly sorry to mention it, but the dizziness is getting worse.” I love the absurd politeness. I’m going to say this all the time now.
I love that he thinks he holds all the cards (ha ha) and he does not.
CarrieS: Gregory Peck should always be wet and disheveled.
Sarah: The haircut scene is one of my favorites. When I last donated my hair, and my stylist put my hair in a ponytail to cut it all off, even though we both knew what we were doing, I was so nervous, and so was she. Also why the hell is he back-combing her hair before he cuts it off?
And short bangs! She looks so good with short bangs. Interesting pacing note: she gets her hair cut at nearly exactly half way through the film. She buys ice cream and flowers at about 1:02 and the film is about 2 hours long. Epic change midway through!
CarrieS: Um they totally just smashed up a lot of other people’s stuff, people who probably didn’t have a lot of stuff to spare, and lied their way out of paying for it and that is a jerk move, also, how old are these characters supposed to be? Peck you are a little stalkery.
CarrieS: “You should always wear my clothes.”
“It seems I do.”
Sarah: I love how Joe is early on a varying level of jerk, and slowly does something unselfish. I also like the way the film parallels itself. Her princess agenda includes going to all these sites to improve trade relations and connections on one level, and her tour of Rome in semi-disguise is more personal, and focuses more on how real people in Rome live day to day. She’s supposed to be given a car which she will refuse, but then she steals a scooter and drives it all over Rome (and makes a big mess – geez, woman). And the movie begins with her dancing at a ball, distant, silent, and impersonal from each person, and midway through she’s on a barge dancing (scandalously!) close with Joe and actually talking to him. There’s the distance of her role contrasted with the intimacy and experience of her day as a (sort of) anonymous individual.
Her realization that her job and her role mean a lot to the people of her country: “Were I not aware of my duty to my country and my family, I would not have come back tonight, or indeed ever again.” Also: she’s wearing a dark almost-black dressing gown instead of white silk — o RLY?
CarrieS: The grab and hug just kills me. Every. Damn. time.
Sarah: They do a lot of subtle face reactions and they get my right in the hearty feels.
Also, I LOVE that the first question is like, “So, princess, what do you think about a European Union?” Well, let me tell you some things from the future! You’d better sit down.
Expressions of personal affection through bland press statements – I am terribly sorry to mention it, but I am a puddle of feels right now.
“I will cherish my memories here as long as I live.” I’ve seen this movie a mess of times, and I am all sniffly.
CarrieS: It’s an A movie, obviously. Am helpless before its powers.
Sarah: Meeting the press contrasting the opening meeting of the dignitaries — this movie’s parallels are so well done. My catnip, so much catnip.
And then he stays there, waiting longer than anyone before he leaves. Oh, gosh, this movie works so well on me.
I just did the dumbest thing: I wondered if there were fanfic for this movie. Can you imagine such a ludicrous question? Of course there is!
This is so timelessly effective and charming, and gets me every time I watch. It’s easily an A for me.
Complete aside for trivia via IMDB: The original writer, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted as one of the legendary Hollywood Ten, and therefore could not receive credit for the screenplay, even when it won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story. Instead, his friend, Ian McLellan Hunter, one of the writers of the final screenplay, took credit for the original story and accepted the Oscar. Hunter did, however, pass on the $50,000 payment he received for the job on to Trumbo. Trumbo’s wife, Cleo, was finally presented with the award in 1993, long after his death in 1976. The Oscar she received was actually a second one, because Hunter’s son wouldn’t give up his father’s Oscar. Thus, two awards for Best Motion Picture Story of 1953 exist. The story credit was corrected to credit Trumbo when the restored edition was released in 2002, nearly fifty years after the original release.
The drunken Ann recites a poem, “If I were dead and buried when I heard your voice, beneath the sod my heart of dust would still rejoice.” which prompts Joe to declare her “well read.” The poem is actually an original work by Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted writer.
Sarah: The history of the blacklist in Hollywood is both fascinating and very eerie given current political media climate. I really enjoyed this series from You Must Remember This devoted to the history of the blacklist. If you’d like to know more about it, I hope you enjoy it.
Is Roman Holiday a romantic classic for you? Or does it not hold up to modern scrutiny? Let us know what you think!