Roman Holiday [1953]

Maybe it doesn't quite live up to its sterling reputation, and maybe the leading man and director were slightly miscast. But who cares? Roman Holiday is the film that brought Audrey Hepburn to prominence, and the world movie audience went weak at the knees. The endlessly charming Hepburn had her first starring role in this sweet romance, playing a European princess on an official tour through Rome. Frustrated by her lack of connection to the real world, she slips away from her protective handlers and goes on a spree, aided by a tough-guy news reporter (Gregory Peck). Director William Wyler, more at home with such heavy-going, Oscar-winning classics as The Best Years of Our Lives and Ben- Hur, doesn't always keep the champagne bubbles afloat, and the Peck role would have fit Cary Grant like a silk glove. But the film is great fun, the location shooting is irresistible, and Hepburn embodies an image of chic style that would rule for the rest of the fifties. No coincidence: she won an Oscar, and so did veteran costume designer Edith Head. --Robert Horton

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