Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day One Hundred and Fifty-nine - Roman Holiday, "Audrey, you were and ever shall be divine."

The two Hepburn girls always rank very high in my book when it comes to classic cinema. American Kate had this piercing, cynical wit that she pulled from for just about every role and British Audrey... well, Audrey was innocence, beauty, and desire all wrapped up in one.

And it shows right here (and in pretty much all of her films) with Roman Holiday.

Co-starring with Gregory Peck (I still need to track down his Hornblower film for a decent price), Roman Holiday has Audrey playing Princess Anne from a never-named European monarchy who is sick to death of all her pressing responsibilities as a figurehead for her country.

With Rome being the last stop in a long goodwill tour across post-war Europe, Anne is in hysterics due to all the stress she's been under and is sedated by her Royal Physician. The mickey doesn't take effect for a while, though, and it gives her enough time to escape the embassy and walk the streets of Rome, only to finally succumb to the drug's effects.

That's where Gregory Peck comes in.

A newsman, sensing a... well, sensational story brewing, Peck's Joe Bradley takes her in and shows her the wonders of bohemian Rome. There's tours by scooter (probably the most iconic image from the film), dancing by the river, and a stolen kiss while the two of them are drenched, having escaped from agents searching for her.

I really love this film because it sticks to its guns and doesn't give you the schmaltzy happy ending that most films would. As their relationship grows closer over the course of the day, you can see the haunted looks that cross their countenances... they know their fling is doomed and that nothing can ever come from it, but that doesn't stop their hearts from wanting.

Their goodbye at the embassy gates, her as the plain Anya and him still masquerading as a chemical salesman, emphasizes this... and it all comes back when they meet again, cold and distant on the surface as Princess and Reporter who have supposedly never met before, but you can see the warmth and love in their eyes.

And the regret.

That last, lingering shot as Bradley slowly paces out of the ostentatious meeting hall, everyone else having long since left, is a quiet moment of finality and acceptance. Their love can never be, but they are both better off for having that brief Roman Holiday.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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