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Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday (1953 poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Screenplay by
Story byDalton Trumbo
Produced byWilliam Wyler
Edited byRobert Swink
Music by
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 Audrey Hepburn as a princess out to see Rome on her own and Gregory Peck as a reporter. 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 from an unnamed European nation 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 attendance at the princess's press conference. When Hennessy informs him that the event had been cancelled and shows him a news item about the princess's "sudden illness" with a picture of her in it, he realizes who is asleep in his apartment. Seeing an opportunity, Joe privately calls his photographer friend, Irving Radovich, to get him to secretly take pictures. Joe then tells Hennessy that he will get an exclusive wide-ranging interview with the princess and asks how much that would be worth. Hennessy offers to pay $5000, but bets Joe $500 that he will not be able to get it.

Joe and Ann careen through Rome on a Vespa scooter
Joe and Ann careen through Rome on a Vespa scooter

Joe hurries home and, hiding the fact that he is a reporter, offers to show "Anya" around Rome. However, Ann declines Joe's offer and leaves. Enjoying her freedom, she explores an outdoor market, buys a pair of shoes, observes the people and daily life of Rome, and gets her long hair cut short. Joe follows and "accidentally" meets Ann on the Spanish Steps. This time, he convinces her to spend the day with him, taking her to a street café where he meets up with Irving. When Anya tries to drive Joe on a Vespa through heavy Roman traffic they are all arrested, but Joe and Irving show their "fake" press passes and the group is set free. They visit the Mouth of Truth, where Joe tricks Ann into thinking that his hand has been bitten off, and later tour the Colosseum.

That night, at a dance on a boat that her barber had invited her to, government agents called in by the embassy spot Ann and try to forcibly take her away. Joe, Irving, and the barber rush in to save her from the abductors. Ann joins in the fight that breaks out. As police arrive and subdue the agents, Joe and Ann run away, but after Joe is ambushed and falls into the river, Ann jumps in to save him. They swim away from the dance and kiss as they sit shivering on the riverbank. Later at Joe's apartment, while drying their wet clothes, they share tender bittersweet moments. Regretfully bowing to her royal responsibilities, Ann asks Joe to drive her to a corner near the embassy, where they kiss again. She bids a tearful farewell and resumes her duties as a princess.

Joe decides not to write the story, although he tells Irving he is free to sell his photographs. Joe and Irving then leave to attend the postponed press conference at the embassy, much to Princess Ann's surprise. Joe assures Ann (in words she, but not the other reporters, will understand) that he will print nothing about their day together. At the end of the interview, the princess unexpectedly asks to meet the journalists, speaking briefly with each. As she reaches Joe and Irving, Irving presents her with his photographs as a memento of Rome. She and Joe share a few innocuous words together, before she reluctantly departs. After the rest of the press leave, Joe stays for awhile, then walks away alone.



Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn star as Joe Bradley and Princess Ann, respectively.

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.[citation needed]

Wyler had initially considered Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons for the princess' role, but both were unavailable.[7] On 18 September 1951, director Thorold Dickinson made a screen test with Hepburn and sent it to director William Wyler, who was in Rome preparing Roman Holiday. Wyler wrote to Dickinson, saying that "as a result of the test, a number of the producers at Paramount have expressed interest in casting her."[8] Roman Holiday was not Hepburn's first acting role, as she had appeared in Dutch and British films from 1948 and on stage, but it was her first major film role and her first appearance in an American film. Wyler wanted an "anti-Italian" actress who was different from the curvy Italian stars of that era: "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]

Filming locations

Joe and Ann meet on the Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna
Joe and Ann meet on the Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna

The Italian Ministry of Tourism had originally refused permission for the movie to be filmed in Rome, on the grounds that it would "degrade Italians".[10] Once the matter was resolved, filming took place entirely in Rome and in the studios of Cinecittà. It was originally planned to be in color, but filming outside was so expensive that it had to be done in black and white.[citation needed]


The film premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 27, 1953,[2] grossing $165,000 in its first week.[11] The film also opened the same week in two theatres in Portland, Oregon on a double bill with Murder Without Tears, grossing $14,000.[12]

Milton Luban of the Hollywood Reporter said the movie "proves a charming, laugh-provoking affair that often explodes into has a "delightful screenplay that sparkles with wit and outrageous humor that at times comes close to slapstick" and that the "cinematographers do a fine job of incorporating Roman landmarks into the storyline."[13] The New York Times observed that it was "a natural, tender and amusing yarn" with "laughs that leave the spirits soaring."[14]

Roman Holiday was the second most popular film at the US box office during September 1953 behind From Here to Eternity, grossing almost $1 million.[15] It earned an estimated $3 million at the United States and Canadian box office during its first few months of release.[16] While the domestic box office disappointed Paramount, it was very successful elsewhere, including the UK, where the film benefited from both the concurrent romance between Princess Margaret and commoner Peter Townsend—"No film studio could have bought such publicity", Alexander Walker wrote—and a fad for Italian culture.[17]

Due to the film's popularity, both Peck and Hepburn were approached about filming a sequel, but this project never got off the ground.[18]

The film has been very well received, with a 97% "Certified fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 58 reviews with an average rating of 8.41/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "With Audrey Hepburn luminous in her American debut, Roman Holiday is as funny as it is beautiful, and sets the standard for the modern romantic comedy."[19]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[20] Best Motion Picture William Wyler Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Best Supporting Actor Eddie Albert Nominated
Best Screenplay Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton Nominated
Best Story Dalton Trumbo Won
Best Art Direction – Black-and-White Hal Pereira and Walter H. Tyler Nominated
Best Cinematography – Black-and-White Franz Planer and Henri Alekan Nominated
Best Costume Design – Black-and-White Edith Head Won
Best Film Editing Robert Swink Nominated
Bambi Awards Best Actor – International Gregory Peck Nominated
Best Actress – International Audrey Hepburn Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Eddie Albert Nominated
Gregory Peck Nominated
Best British Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures William Wyler Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Audrey Hepburn Won
Huabiao Film Awards Outstanding Translated Foreign Film Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 6th Place
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Actress Audrey Hepburn Won
Online Film & Television Association Awards Hall of Fame – Motion Picture Won
Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion William Wyler Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Comedy Ian McLellan Hunter, Dalton Trumbo and John Dighton Won

The Academy Award for Best Story was initially given to Ian McLellan Hunter, since he took story credit on behalf of Dalton Trumbo (who was blacklisted). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later credited the win to Trumbo, and in 1993 Trumbo's widow, Cleo, received her late husband's Oscar.[21]

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".

The American Film Institute lists 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.[22] The 1991 Malayalam movie Kilukkam was also reported to be based on this movie.[23]

The Richard Curtis film Notting Hill has been likened to "a 90's London-set version of Roman Holiday".[24] 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.[25]

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).[26] It was scheduled for a run in San Francisco in summer 2017 before going on to Broadway.[27][28]
  • 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.[29]
  • A version entirely in Japanese with a completely different score was produced in 1998 by Toho [Japanese Theatre Company].[30]

See also

  • Basta't Kasama Kita, a 1995 Philippine film with a similar plot
  • Touch Your Heart (Korean: 진심이 닿다; RR: Jinsim-i Data; lit. Reach of Sincerity), a Korean television series in which the protagonists are a celebrated actress who goes to work at a law firm to prepare for her comeback role in a legal drama and the lawyer she works for, with whom she falls in love. There are multiple references to Roman Holiday in the series, including a scene where the lawyer rents a movie theater so the couple can watch the film together out of sight of the press.


  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. ^ BFI Film Forever, 22 January 2014: The letter that made Audrey Hepburn a star. Retrieved 2015-04-20
  9. ^ Levy, Shawn (2016). Dolce Vita Confidential. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 112. ISBN 9781474606158.
  10. ^ Colpaert, Stijn (2007). "What has happened to the centre? Cinematic representations of post-war Rome". City + Cinema: Essays on the Specificity of Location in Film. Tampere: Datutop. p. 71. ISBN 978-95215-1865-2.
  11. ^ "Heat Fails to Wilt B'Way Grosses". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "'Holiday' Smash $14,000, Port.Ace". Variety. September 2, 1953. p. 8. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via
  13. ^ "'Roman Holiday': THR's 1953 Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 27 August 2019.
  14. ^ W, A. (August 28, 1953). "' Roman Holiday' at Music Hall Is Modern Fairy Tale Starring Peck and Audrey Hepburn" – via
  15. ^ "12 Biggest Pix Grossers in September Paced by 'Eternity' ('Robe' Excluded)". Variety. October 7, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved September 23, 2019 – via
  16. ^ "Top Grossers of 1953". Variety. January 13, 1954.
  17. ^ Walker, Alexander (1997). "8: Loves and Hates". Audrey: Her Real Story. Macmillan. pp. 83–87. ISBN 0312180462.
  18. ^ "Roman Holiday (1953) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  19. ^ "Roman Holiday (1953)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  20. ^ "NY Times: Roman Holiday". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-29. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "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)
  23. ^ "Mollywood movies that ran for more than 300 days".
  24. ^ Derek Elley, Variety, 30 April 1999
  25. ^ Peter Bradshaw, "My Guilty Pleasure:Notting Hill", The Guardian, 17 March 2014
  26. ^ "Roman Holiday".
  27. ^ "Stephanie Styles, Drew Gehling, Jarrod Spector, Sara Chase to Star in Roman Holiday". Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Broadway-Bound 'Roman Holiday' Musical Sets Complete Cast" Playbill, April 6, 2017
     dal 21 ottobre"
  30. ^ "Musical Adaptation of Roman Holiday Coming to Tokyo Oct. '98 - Playbill". 22 December 1997.

External links

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