In this classic movie, Audrey Hepburn is a princess (of a country which is never named), who comes to Rome on official business. Despairing of her pampered lifestyle and lack of freedom, she escapes from her country’s embassy, deciding to explore Rome by herself.
She soon meets up with cynical journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who initially thinks she is drunk, but soon realises her true identity, and sees the opportunity for a great story. Princess Anne does not realise that Bradley is a journalist, and he doesn’t reveal that he knows who she is. Instead, he takes her to see many of the sights of Rome, and gradually their feelings for each other develop. But Anne has duties to her country and knows that her pretend life as an ordinary citizen cannot last….
I watched this film for the first time, the night that I got back from a mini break in Rome, and I adored the movie. Black and white films are not something I would normally choose to watch, but this was a true classic – amusing, incredibly charming and romantic. Much like the two leads. Peck and Hepburn on screen are like genetic perfection, and both of them are perfect in their respective roles. (It was in fact Audrey Hepburn’s debut film, and she won as Oscar for her part.) Peck is gorgeous, but he is world weary and while he is a decent and kind man, his only care initially is for writing an exclusive scoop on the princess – but his feelings change as he comes to know her. Hepburn meanwhile is cute, innocent in a child like way and very funny, capturing the vulnerability and loneliness of the princess in her ivory tower, and infusing her character with a great deal of fun on her ‘day off’. I defy anyone to watch this movie and not fall a little bit in love with her. The setting of Rome is of course beautiful and lends the perfect backdrop to this romantic comedy.
Some movies become classics for a reason – this is one of them. I only wish I had watched it a long time ago, but it has instantly become a favourite film for me, and one that I will watch again and again.
Year of release: 1953
Director: William Wyler
Writers: Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo
Main cast: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert