Roman Holiday (Centennial Collection) – DVD Review

It’s impossible not to fall a little bit in love with Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. She brings a mix of beauty, grace, innocence, and charm to her role as a princess gone AWOL for one day of freedom in Rome, and you can’t help but feel for her when she has to go back to the constricting life of royalty.

The plot is fairly simple: Hepburn plays a young princess out on a goodwill tour of Europe. While in Rome she experiences a bit of a breakdown from the constant demands of her life and decides to leave the palace for a bit of freedom. Unfortunately, she decides to do this after her doctor injects her with a sedative, so Hepburn ends up falling asleep beside a fountain. Thankfully, Gregory Peck—who plays an American reporter who just happens to have an interview scheduled with her the following day—happens upon her. He doesn’t recognize her as the Princess, and eventually has to take her back to his apartment so the police won’t arrest her for vagrancy. What follows next is a charming day about Rome where the Princess gets to pretend that she is just another person.

Hepburn absolutely makes this movie work. On the surface the story seems silly and unappealing. After all, who cares about the problems of the rich and famous? Even though people in those positions do have legitimate complaints about that kind of life, most of us can’t see beyond the fact that they have money, class, and the power that those provide. The sacrifices made for possessing all of that seem petty in comparison.

But Hepburn makes you feel for her. She has an undeniable genuineness about her that shines through those ignoble thoughts and make you actually feel for her situation. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s even more impressive considering that Hepburn never took an acting class in her life.

While Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered Hepburn’s seminal work, Roman Holiday is also quintessentially her as well. This was her first movie, and it rocketed her immediately to stardom. It’s charming, funny, and very sweet.

The movie was shown in Full Screen with Dolby Digital Mono for the English, French, and Spanish language tracks. The transfer is excellent as the movie was painstakingly restored for this edition.

Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years (29:54)–a brief, but very informative documentary about Hepburn’s life and her work at Paramount.

Remembering Audrey (12:12)–Hepburn’s son and her companion talk about her life and humanitarian work.

Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist (11:55)–Trumbo was one of the famous “Hollywood Ten” who were blacklisted because they didn’t cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. This short featurette focuses mostly on the terrible injustice of his blacklisting.

Restoring Roman Holiday (6:50)–the most technical featurette on the DVD. The most interesting part was when the head restorer talks about how they want to restore the film to what the director intended, and that they were not there to improve on the film in any way other than cleaning it.

Paramount in the ‘50s (9:37)–Pretty much a laundry list of the hits Paramount produced during the 1950s. Nothing really substantial here.

Theatrical Trailers
Original Theatrical Teaser Trailer (1:49)–this plays more like a newsreel segment than a teaser as we would think of it. A lot of focus went on Hepburn’s outfits.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:15)–traditional trailer.
Theatrical Re-Release Trailer (2:29)–not much different from the original trailer, but I did like the bit of alliteration when Hepburn is called a “Pixie on the prowl.”

Galleries–106 pictures are roughly divided between four categories: Production, The Movie, Publicity, and Premier.

Admittedly, I got this to review because my wife loves Audrey Hepburn, but I have to say that even though I’m not a fan of this type of movie, even I was charmed. There’s no denying Hepburn’s screen presence or the strength of Trumbo’s writing. Recommended.


Paramount presents Roman Holiday – Centennial Collection. Directed by William Wyler. Starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and Eddie Albert. Written by Dalton Trumbo. Running time: 118 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: November 11, 2008. Available at Amazon.