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Gregory Peck: An Agreeable Gentleman

Saturday, June 16, 2012
8:30 p.m. Roman Holiday
William Wyler (U.S., 1953)



A backwards Cinderella story with an unexpected moral: “Life isn’t always what one likes.” Oppressed by her official duties, young Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) goes incognito in Rome, trading fairy-tale opulence for the enchantment of “ordinary” life. An American reporter (Gregory Peck) picks her up—literally—on a street corner, and soon realizes he has a scoop on his hands. As they roam the city by Vespa, visiting the Mouth of Truth and the wall where wishes come true, the princess and the hack try to hide their respective identities, but they can’t conceal their growing feelings for each other. The first American production shot entirely in Italy after World War II, based on a story by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, Roman Holiday tempers its breezy touristic pleasures with a note of postwar melancholy. In a performance that is cynical and tender by turns, Peck conveys the understanding that holidays are temporary, and not all fairy tales have happy endings.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, from a story by Dalton Trumbo. Photographed by Frank F. Planer, Henri Alekan. With Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Margaret Rawlings, Hartley Power. (118 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Paramount Pictures)