A Roman Holiday Captures Old Pasadena

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“I’m a good cook,” said Princess Ann. “I could make a living out of it. I could iron, and cook and clean.” The royal princess frowns. “I just never had the chance to practice it.” Some dreams seem so unreal until they come true and some might always remain dreams hanging under the sky.

On May 14, as part of this month’s Cinema in the Park series, the Old Town Pasadena Management District presented the 1953 classic “A Roman Holiday.” The “movie under the stars” is a captivating fairy tale, yet plausible romance featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
The film, which was shot entirely in Rome, evolves around the young Princess Ann (Hepburn), a member of a royal family who is on a diplomatic tour around Europe. One night in Rome, the young, strained princess can’t take the pressure anymore, runs out of the royal residence and through a string of coincidences finds herself in the little apartment and life of the charming tabloid journalist Joe Bradley (Peck).

As she enters his room, she asks astonished, “Is this the elevator?” “This is my room,” replies Bradley and their worlds clash. His assignment was to cover the princess’s royal tour in Rome, but now, the American reporter gets excited about the opportunity to write a first hand scandal story on the princess who secretly rebelled against her royal obligations and followed her dreams.

Bradley’s editor promises him $5,000 for the story and Bradley is thrilled by the thought of finally having enough money to move back to New York.

With his friend, an undercover photographer, he spends one fun day escorting the princess as she discovers the Roman city.
Yet, as in most love stories, his heart’s attraction to the young princess cancels Bradley’s ambitious plans.

“A Roman Holiday” is a charming romantic-comedy, a kind of Cinderella tale in reverse. The story was reportedly based on the real-life Italian adventures of British Princess Margaret.

Hepburn’s, naãve, child-like yet convincing acting holds the audience captured throughout the entire film and so do the charming and funny roles of Peck and the photographer.

The film that was produced and directed by one of Hollywood’s most skillful, distinguished and professional directors — William Wyler, which shows in its excellence in every aspect of direction.
Wyler was known for other great films including Dodsworth (1936), Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best years of Our Lives (1946), The Heiress (1949), Ben-Hur (1959) and Funny Girls (1968). Wyler’s well-crafted films cover a wide range of film genres, which always include down-to-earth characters in real-life situations.

Though it is black and white, the film’s incredible choices of shots, shifts and angles leave the audience excited, which adds the color to the movie.

The film’s unexpected turns, breathtaking scenery and fresh changes hold the viewers’ attention until the last minute, including its unexpected and rather open end: as “the end” appears on the screen, Princess Ann had left Bradley behind and walked back to performing her expected diplomatic duties, promising to always cherish her Roman holiday in her heart.

Despite what its title might suggest, “A Roman Holiday” is not just a plain “chick-flick,” but has an ageless appeal, because it deals with the deeper meaning of life and the way an individual lives and dreams without compromising their responsibilities.

“A Roman Holiday” also deals with the conflict journalists can find themselves in when they get personally involved with the interview of their story.

The film received a phenomenal 10 Academy Award nominations for a comedy. It won a Best Actress Oscar for its then under-experienced British (Belgium-born) actress named Audrey Hepburn (it was her first American film). In 1992, a posthumous Oscar was properly credited and given to blacklisted Hollywood Ten author Dalton Trumbo, who actually wrote the screenplay.

The third Oscar it received was for Best Black and White Costume Design (Edith Head). The other seven nominations included: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Albert), Best Director, Best Screenplay (Ian McClellan Hunter and John Dighton), Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Black and White Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Film Editing.

Almost as exciting as its plot is the ambient in which this May’s event of “A Roman Holiday” was set. As a movie under the stars, the festivals friendly, almost unreal scenery reminds us of the romantic setting of “Wedding Planner’s” featuring the scene where Jenniffer Lopez is sitting in the park, watching an old romantic movie waiting for prince charming.

“Cinema in the Park” attempts to promote arts in filmmaking as well as raising money to fight cancer by working together with the non-profit organization “Arts fighting Cancer.” In the end, a voluntary donation is taken which goes completely to the Cancer Relief Fund.

“Cinema in the Park” leaves the audience with the feeling of having spent a nice and somewhat different movie night at a unique setting while contributing to a good cause.

Cinema in the Park is a free event and open to the general public. It will continue every Saturday in May. The movies start at sunset and the event is located at Levitt Pavillion in Memorial Park in Old Pasadena.
Tickets can be obtained at the Heritage Wine Company, 155 N. Raymond Ave. On Saturday, “The Sting” will be showing and on May 28, “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” will run under
the stars.