Harbor Theater

‘Roman Holiday’: As charming today as it was in 1953

Tue, 12/05/2023 - 1:45pm

Story Location:
185 Townsend Avenue
Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
United States

    What could be more romantic that exploring Rome on the back of a Vespa driven by an incredibly handsome man? Throw in the fact that the beautiful young woman with her arms around the charming driver’s waist just happens to be a runaway princess, and you have the makings of a perfect romantic holiday movie, a “Roman Holiday.”

    When director/producer William Wyler cast a virtually unknown actress next to one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men for “Roman Holiday,’ not only was his timing perfect for that story but his choices of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck resulted in a fairy tale film that is timeless.

    Wyler’s first choices for the role of Princess Ann were Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons. Fortunately, for all of us, neither were available, and when he saw Hepburn’s screen test, he knew he had his princess. “Roman Holiday” was not Hepburn’s first movie, but it was her first American movie and first lead role. For her performance as Princess Ann, she won the Best Actress Oscar and immediately stepped into the other beloved character roles that would define her career.

    As for Peck, by 1953, he had a decade of films under his belt and was the perfect choice to play Joe, the gentleman reporter opening up a whole new world to the young, protected royal in the eternal city.

    Hailed by critics as a modern fairy tale and a reverse Cinderella story, one of those critics, Peter Bradshaw from “The Guardian” wrote, the “two leads have a charm and innocence that irradiate the whole movie.” Add in Eddie Arnold as Joe’s sidekick photographer whose carefree, “go-for-it” attitude underscores Joe’s careful, debonair personality, and you have a trio who keeps the story fast-paced, fun-filled, and, yes, that word again, completely charming.

    “Roman Holiday” will be showing at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 16, with an introductory commentary/video by Bates College film professor and Harbor Theater friend, Dr. Jon Cavallero.