“She’s fair game, Joe. It’s always open season on princesses.”
A princess (Audrey Hepburn) on the lam befriends an undercover journalist (Gregory Peck) and photographer (Eddie Albert) hoping to scoop a story about her adventures as a “commoner” in Rome.
Audrey Hepburn made her Oscar-winning debut in this charming European fairy tale — shot entirely on location in Rome — about a modern-day princess desperate to escape her royal duties for a day and experience life “without a schedule”. It’s a story that remains timeless and appealing precisely because, royalty or not, we can all relate to wanting to abandon our given identities and explore the world incognito for a while (not to mention falling in love with a tall, dark stranger!). With that said, its age-old rom-com premise of “mistaken identities” leaves room for several gaping plot holes, if you’re looking: viewers must suspend belief, for instance, that Peck’s foreign correspondent would have no idea what Hepburn’s Princess Ann looks like the night before he’s scheduled to go and interview her (or at the very least, that he’s taken in by her “disguise” as a commoner). And surely Hepburn would wonder why Peck (whose real agenda she’s unaware of) doesn’t seem fazed when a group of “undercover” men in black suits try to kidnap her from a dance…
Such quibbles must ultimately be left aside, however, given that Hepburn is so luminous and appealing it’s difficult to turn our eyes away from her. (No wonder a generation of young woman wanted to BE her!) From the moment we first see her Princess Ann waiting to greet an endless line of well-wishers, trying to get more comfortable by discretely slipping a foot out of its high-heeled slipper, she can’t help winning our hearts — therefore, we’re genuinely thrilled for her as she explores the streets of Rome, experiencing such simple pleasures as getting a short haircut, eating an ice cream cone on the Spanish Steps, and being “offered” a bouquet of flowers by a vendor. While Hepburn’s the undeniable star here, Peck is nicely cast as the journalist who can’t help falling for his “subject”, and Eddie Albert is excellent as his photographer buddy. Meanwhile, the streets and sites of Rome are a spectacle unto themselves, making this film a bit of a “Roman holiday” for viewers as well.
P.S. As noted by DVD Savant, the story is surprisingly free of any kind of an overt social “message”, given that it was scripted by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo (whose ghostwriter, Ian McClellan Hunter, won an Oscar on his behalf).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann, a.k.a. “Anya”
- Gregory Peck as Joe
- Eddie Albert as Irving
- Fine use of on-location sets throughout Rome
Yes, most definitely. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)