Roman Holiday (1953) - Centennial Collection

Genre(s): Comedy / Romance
Paramount || NR - 118 minutes - $24.99 || November 11, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-12-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: William Wyler
Writer(s): Dalton Trumbo (story), Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton (screenplay)
Cast: Gregroy Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert


Theatrical Release Date: September 2, 1953


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years
  • Remembering Audrey
  • Rome with a Princess
  • Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist
  • Restoring Roman Holiday
  • Behind the Gates: Costumes
  • Paramount in the '50s: Retrospective Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Galleries


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital Mono), French (Dolby Digital Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

[Note: This review contains spoilers.]

Roman Holiday isn’t just a notable film for introducing the world to one of Hollywood’s most glamorous starlets in Audrey Hepburn (a true American sweetheart), but the film itself is one of my personal favorite romantic comedies, partially because it doesn’t follow the rom-com trends of today. It’s also a fantastic film in the same way as a modern film like Lost in Translation. As much as I loved the two leads played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, part of the film’s greatness is the beauty of Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto), the same goes for Roman Holiday, and an excellent travelogue for Rome, Italy. Shot on location in Rome, a first for a major studio (or one of), the movie, and Hepburn, captured the hearts of movie-goers worldwide garnering 11 Academy Award nominations (Picture, Director, Supporting Actor) and winning 3 including Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn.

The story is about Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) who is on a European tour with a final stop in Rome, Italy. There her duties include meeting with dignitaries and answering questions from the press and other princess obligations. But she wants very much to experience the sights and sounds of Rome and so she sneaks out one night and, under the influence of some sleeping medication, is found by reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). Believing she’s just drunk and not knowing where to leave her, he takes her back to his bachelor pad. The next day Ann awakes to discover she did run away and when Joe finds out who she really is, he sees this as his opportunity to make it to the big time. With the help of photographer and friend Irving (Eddie Albert), they set to expose the princess with scandal. Of course, as Joe and Ann take in Rome and all its beauty, they soon fall for one another.

Roman Holiday is probably one of the most charming and in the end, unassuming romantic comedies. You have two leads in Gregory Peck and Hepburn who are absolutely fantastic together on screen, driven primarily by Hepburn’s undeniable beauty and charisma. By most accounts Hepburn was a good person, modest and beautiful, but not in the classic Hollywood standards like Marilyn Monroe. She had this every person quality about her that transcends even today, and probably more so. Even Gregory Peck saw the star quality Hepburn possessed asking producers to put her name above titles alongside his.

What also makes this movie interesting is there is a certain innocence that you rarely see in cinema today or even in real life. For instance, the idea of a paparazzi-like reporter who gets the story of his lifetime and he actually considers not running it? Yeah, OK. In this cynical world, I doubt a movie like Roman Holiday could play to today’s audiences who, while eating up the cookie-cutter romantic comedies (to see two A-list actors together), would not buy such a situation, even by the genre standards. So I guess it’s because of the purity of this film and its star for the reason why it’s one of my personal favorites. It’s not a difficult story and the cynic in me still wonders why it was nominated for Best Picture -- modern cinema it seems a story has to convey some sort of social message --, but I can watch this every year and it still holds as a fantastic picture, a movie going 55 years strong.

Roman Holiday is a timeless classic that is truly one of the best romantic comedies with one of the photogenic female leads... ever.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Paramount is re-releasing Roman Holiday as part of their “Centennial Collection”. This makes the umptheenth release of the romantic comedy including the numerous Audrey Hepburn collections and individual releases.

The following have been ported over from the “Special Collector’s Edition”:

Restoring Roman Holiday (6:50) is a basic primer on the restoration process on not just “Roman Holiday” but just the process in general. Plus some theatrical trailers including teasers were also carried over.

Unfortunately a couple featurettes were left off: “Remembering Roman Holiday”, a 25-minute documentary and “Edith Head – The Paramount Years”. A good portion of these were incorporated into the new featurettes, however.

Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years (29:54) – This, the most extensive featurette on the disc, takes a look at Hepburn’s time at Paramount starting with Roman Holiday and her other 5 films with the studio. It goes through her personal life and stories from on the set.

This “Centennial Collection” also has Remembering Audrey (12:10) which features more interviews with friends and family; Rome with a Princess (8:55) on shooting in Rome and the city landmarks; Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist (11:53) on the writer’s rise and fall during the “Red Scare” which denied him writing credit (and an Oscar) for Roman Holiday; and Behind the Gates: Costumes (5:30) which takes a look at some of the costumes used over the years at Paramount. All of these are new to DVD and presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Last is one more featurette, in full frame, and assumedly previously available (2000 copyright): Paramount in the ‘50s: Retrospective Featurette (9:36) is another look at the history of the studio during the 1950s including Roman Holiday.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Given Roman Holiday is now 55 years old, the restoration they did was amazing. While the film does contain some dust or grain, it’s to be expected, but for the most part this looks to be a good transfer (it’s the same as the 2002 release).

Not surprisingly, the English Dolby Digital Mono track is serviceable but doesn’t sound all too great on the ears. I assume because of the film’s age and what audio is still available, it would be fruitless to try and re-master this.



.::OVERALL::.

I’m still unsure as to why Paramount chose to do yet another re-release when it seems the 2002 “Special Collector’s Edition” would be perfectly suitable for most people. The added special features aren’t really worth the upgrade and with the same video and audio transfers; it doesn’t make sense to pay another $15 for this release. If you still haven’t gotten a hold of this gem, now would be a good time, however.