William Wyler

Sog.: Jan McLelland Hunter. Scen.: Jan McLelland Hunter, John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo. F.: Frank F. Planer, Henri Alekan. M.: Robert Swink. Scgf.: Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler. Mus.: Georges Auric. Int.: Gregory Peck (Joe Bradley), Audrey Hepburn (Ann), Eddie Albert (Irving Radovich), Hartley Power (Mr. Hennessy), Harcourt Williams (l’ambasciatore), Margaret Rawlings (contessa Vereberg), Tullio Carminati (generale Provno), Paolo Carlini (Mario Delani). Prod.: William Wyler per Paramount. DCP. D.: 119’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Amongst the new girls of 1950s romantic comedies, the heroine of Roman Holiday makes her way through a fairytale, photogenic, almost supernatural elegance with a face that Roland Barthes would later define as an “event”. The film was the result of the studio’s commercial calculations and its betting on a potential star. It was to be a co-production, as was often the case in postwar Hollywood; European markets had reopened their doors and the consequent flood of American films, both new and old, was contingent upon the stipulation that a part of the profits had to be reinvested in the local film industry. Rome was an ideal location, partly thanks to neorealism’s international echo. The blacklisted Dalton Trumbo was hired to write the story, which had to combine a fairy-tale structure with modern sensibility (credit was necessarily assigned to his friend Ian McLellan Hunter).
William Wyler appears happy to grant this runaway princess the albeit fleeting happiness which he had to deny the ladies of his Henry James and Theodore Dreiser adaptations, in grim masterpieces The Heiress (1949) and Carrie (1952). He portrays a city of steps and blazing sunlight, designing the whole film as one long, circular panorama around the great beauties of Rome, finally returning to the point where it all began and to the end of the dream. But in the meantime, Audrey Hepburn is dropped into the midst of Italian cinema, all romantic barbers and Vespa rides, voices that sound like they come from Poveri ma belli, and bars frequented by gaudy girls and foreign journalists in a not irrelevant anticipation of Fellini (to add depth and a local flavour, the producers hired Flaiano and Suso Cecchi d’Amico to rewrite some of the dialogue). The impact on the tourist imagination will be both substantial and long-lasting. Such glorious scenery provides the backdrop for a love affair that comes along, blooms in a long day of humorous and sentimental counterpoints, is not here to stay, will fade into memory.
We’re in the 1950s between Hollywood and the Cupolone and innocence will remain immaculate. But this is the comedy of a sentimental education so, by the end of her Roman holiday, this girl will have been transformed from mere silhouette into a subject, aware of her own desires. That’s why that subdued, underplayed final goodbye still comes across as no less moving, in its own way, than the ending of Casablanca.

Paola Cristalli

Copy From

Restored in 4K by Paramount Pictures Archive at Technicolor laboratory, from a 35mm dupe negative