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Paramount Presents: Roman Holiday (1953) - Blu-ray Review

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Roman Holiday (1953)

“Did you bring me here by force?”

And INTRODUCING Audrey Hepburn.  That’s right, the screen legend begins here with Roman Holiday, a quintessential romantic comedy, which was shot on location in Rome . . . even though Paramount wanted it filmed on their studio lot.

"a righteous smash of sweetness and scenery"


Paramount got a number of things right with this film - because it could have starred Cary Grant coupled alongside Elizabeth Taylor - but tightening the budget (so that it could be filmed on location) forced the film to be shot in black-and-white.  Normally, I am all for this sort of things - and that’s kinda the shtick here with our REEL CLASSICS reviews - but there’s nothing like Rome in color . . . and Hepburn, who would soon kill it IN COLOR with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is a technicolor beauty.

But, alas, Roman Holiday is a classic romance via the vespa scooter, which - yes - the success of the film helped sell, nearly tripling their sales thanks to the marketing of the movie.  I mean, come on, a soon to be cinematic sweetheart and America’s top movie star riding around Rome on one?! Sign me up!   

For a film which boasts a team-up between Gregory Peck (as news reporter Joe Bradley), who already had 18 films and four Oscar nominations under his belt, and an unknown actress, Roman Holiday is a righteous smash of sweetness and scenery as Hepburn, in her lead debut playing the role of Princess Ann, absolutely knocks her performance straight out of the park.Roman Holiday (1953)

Audiences were completely  caught off guard by her wonderfully precious and prescient performance.  It was a role which hints at things to come as Ann, a crown princess, turns her stately visit to Rome into a romantic bender free from her unnamed country’s embassy and its many, many guards.

And Mr. Peck, who demanded Hepburn get top billing, knew it, too.  The film’s director, William Wyler (Mrs. Miniver and The Best Years of Our Lives) knew it, too.  He waited to film the movie until she was available - which would be after “Gigi” closed - and about 20 days later cameras rolled in Rome and, thus, history was made thanks to a crackling script from John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo, who would both (eventually) win the Oscar for their work.

Co-starring Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich, Hartley Power as Peck's editor for his story about Princess Ann, Harcourt Williams as an ambassador of Princess Ann's country, and a hilarious Margaret Rawlings as Countess Vereberg, Ann's lady-in-waiting, Roman Holiday has great performances from its leads and its character actors, making this one an endlessly charming romp via Vespa as Peck and Hepburn win over each other’s hearts 

Roman Holiday is now on blu-ray thanks to Paramount Presents, a new line of releases for fans and collectors.  Remastered in 4K, it is their ninth release in this ongoing effort to draw attention to some of their classics.  This release, in which Hepburn cuts off all her hair, is well worth the investment.

5/5 stars

Roman Holiday (1953)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Presents
Available on Blu-ray
- September 15, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish, Thai
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Mono; German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

For the first time ever on Blu-ray, remastered from a 4K film transfer, Roman Holiday features a legendary, Oscar-winning performance from Audrey Hepburn (in her first starring role). Nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it’s the story of a modern-day princess who, rebelling against the royal obligations, explores Rome on her own. She soon meets an American newspaperman (Gregory Peck) who pretends ignorance of her true identity, in the hopes of obtaining an exclusive story. Naturally, his plan falters as they inevitably fall in love. Featuring Eddie Albert as a carefree cameraman pal, a classic Dalton Trumbo screenplay, expert direction from William Wyler, and featuring Edith Head’s Oscar-winning costumes, it’s a timeless romantic comedy considered to be one of the greatest films from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Video

Framed in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, Roman Holiday is blessed with an immaculate 4K restoration thanks to Paramount Presents.  There really is nothing wrong with this transfer.  Everything crackles with excitement and stunning black and grays.  Details are rich and exhaustive in the city streets and shadows are defined and purposeful.  The film is remarkably preserved thanks to the work here.  It is quite the upgrade and well worth the purchase.

Audio

The Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Mono track attached to this release is both crisp and clear. Dialogue is rich and so are the sounds of Rome.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Paramount Presents loads their releases with lots of great looks at the film.  This time, fans get Maltin’s take on Roman Holiday, a look at the Academy Award Winning costumes, the story about the “communist” screenwriter who would later get this Oscar he deserved, a look back at Hepburn herself, and theatrical trailers.  The release is worth the wait.

  • NEW Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Roman Holiday
  • Behind the Gates: Costumes
  • Rome with a Princess
  • Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years
  • Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist
  • Paramount in the '50s Remembering Audrey
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Four Photo Galleries

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Roman Holiday (1953)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
118 mins
Director
: William Wyler
Writer:
Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton
Cast:
Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert
Genre
: Comedy | Romance
Tagline:
Lived Loved and Filmed in Rome.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Joe, we can't go running around town with a hot princess!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 2, 1953
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 15, 2020.
Synopsis: Director William Wyler's 1953 fairy tale was one of Hollywood's first on-location motion pictures and memorably captures the bustling streets and iconic sites of Rome. ROMAN HOLIDAY expresses the exhilaration of joyously breaking free as the lead character escapes her royal obligations against the backdrop of post-war Europe embracing long-awaited peace.

Roman Holiday (1953)

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