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HISTORY

As noted in the opening credits, "this film was photographed and recorded in its entirety in Rome, Italy." According to a Jul 1952 NYT article, Roman Holiday was the first Hollywood picture to be shot and processed in Italy. The film opens with a phony Paramount News "News Flash," in which stock footage of London, Paris and Rome is intercut with shots of Audrey Hepburn as her character, "Princess Anne."
       According to modern news items and a modern interview with Ian McLellan Hunter, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was a member of the "Hollywood Ten," was the actual writer of the film's story. Credited writer Hunter fronted for Trumbo, and Hunter's agent sold the screen story to producer-director Frank Capra under Hunter's name. Hunter then wrote a draft of the screenplay for Capra. In Oct 1991, the Writers Guild of America West, acting on the recommendations of its ad hoc blacklist credits committee, officially credited Trumbo with the film's story, and awarded him with the same Guild screenplay prize that Hunter and co-screenwriter John Dighton shared in 1954. Although he refused to attend the ceremony, Hunter also won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story), which AMPAS restored to Trumbo posthumously in 1993. In Dec 2011, the Writers Guild also restored Trumbo's screenplay credit for the picture. According to a modern source, director William Wyler's longtime collaborator, Lester Koenig, went to Rome to work on the script of Roman Holiday , but also did not receive credit because of blacklisting. For more information about blacklisting and the Hollywood Ten, see entry for Crossfire . For more information ... More Less

As noted in the opening credits, "this film was photographed and recorded in its entirety in Rome, Italy." According to a Jul 1952 NYT article, Roman Holiday was the first Hollywood picture to be shot and processed in Italy. The film opens with a phony Paramount News "News Flash," in which stock footage of London, Paris and Rome is intercut with shots of Audrey Hepburn as her character, "Princess Anne."
       According to modern news items and a modern interview with Ian McLellan Hunter, blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was a member of the "Hollywood Ten," was the actual writer of the film's story. Credited writer Hunter fronted for Trumbo, and Hunter's agent sold the screen story to producer-director Frank Capra under Hunter's name. Hunter then wrote a draft of the screenplay for Capra. In Oct 1991, the Writers Guild of America West, acting on the recommendations of its ad hoc blacklist credits committee, officially credited Trumbo with the film's story, and awarded him with the same Guild screenplay prize that Hunter and co-screenwriter John Dighton shared in 1954. Although he refused to attend the ceremony, Hunter also won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story), which AMPAS restored to Trumbo posthumously in 1993. In Dec 2011, the Writers Guild also restored Trumbo's screenplay credit for the picture. According to a modern source, director William Wyler's longtime collaborator, Lester Koenig, went to Rome to work on the script of Roman Holiday , but also did not receive credit because of blacklisting. For more information about blacklisting and the Hollywood Ten, see entry for Crossfire . For more information about the Writers Guild blacklist credits committee, see entry for The Las Vegas Story .
       Paramount production files contained at the AMPAS Library note that in Oct 1949, Paramount purchased the rights to the screen story from Capra's Liberty production company for $35,000. Capra is listed as the film's producer-director on early budget estimates and scripts. Modern sources claim that Capra had arranged for Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor to star in the picture, but backed out before production began because he felt that he could not make the film for 1.5 million dollars, Paramount's then budget ceiling. Ben Hecht worked on the screenplay from Jun to Oct 1951, according to Paramount production files, but ultimately waived his credit. His version was markedly different from the completed picture. Paramount records note that Preston Sturges worked on the script in Mar 1952, and that Valentine Davies was hired for two days of revisions. The contribution of these writers to the final film, if any, has not been determined. Modern sources note that the last scene was rewritten many times.
       According to modern sources, Wyler resisted the studio's suggestion to shoot most of the picture on the lot and insisted on filming in Rome. Studio interiors were filmed at the Cinecittà facilities in Rome. Paramount production files indicate that the following Roman locations were used in the picture: Via Ruggero Fauro; Ciampino Airport; Palazzo Barberini and Palazzo Colonna, which were used for the embassy scenes; Piazza Venezia, where the motorscooter scene was filmed; Via Morgangni, the location of the wishing wall; Roman Forum; the Colosseum; the Bocca della Verità; Via Nuova; the Spanish Steps; Via dei Giardini; Palazzo Brancaccio, which provided the princess' embassy bedroom; Piazza Ungheria, Via IV Fontane; Castel St. Angelo; Ponte Vittorio; Piazza de Trevi; Piazza Quirinale, where the police station scene was recorded; Piazza del Pantheon; and Via Margutta, the site of "Joe's" apartment. According to Paramount records, the lengthy production cost approximately $2,092,487 and was about $700,000 over budget. Modern sources note that the picture was financed with blocked funds, which Paramount was allowed to use only after getting script approval from the Italian government. According to the Var review, some prints of Roman Holiday were "available for wide-screen projection."
       Roman Holiday marked Wyler's first comedy film since the 1935 Twentieth Century-Fox picture The Gay Deception (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). It also marked Audrey Hepburn's American screen debut and her first starring role. Previously, she had appeared in walk-on roles in a number of British pictures, including the popular 1951 comedy The Lavender Hill Mob . According to modern sources, after securing Gregory Peck in the lead male role, Wyler began searching for a screen unknown to play the princess. British director Thorold Dickinson oversaw Hepburn's screen test, following Wyler's instructions to keep the camera running after the actual scene reading was over, so that he could gauge her natural screen presence.
       Alhough impressed by the Hepburn footage, Wyler also tested Suzanne Cloutier, according to one modern source. Hepburn's screen test was shown later on television and was featured in a Look magazine spread, according to modern sources. Hepburn's casting in Roman Holiday conflicted with her appearance in the title role of the Broadway production of Gigi , for which author Colette personally had picked her, but modern sources note that Wyler delayed production for six months to accommodate her schedule. Hepburn's performance was applauded universally by critics. The HR reviewer stated: "Miss Hepburn makes her American screen debut a memorable occasion. A beauty, she reveals sensitivity and sincerity in her captivating portrayal..." The DV reviewer praised Hepburn's "delightful affectation in voice and delivery, controlled just enough to have charm and serve as a trademark," while the NYT reviewer described the actress as a "slender, elfin and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike." Hepburn appeared on the cover of Time magazine in Sep 1953. In addition to a Paramount contract and instant stardom in America and Europe, Hepburn gained major celebrity in Japan due to her role in Roman Holiday . Her Roman Holiday hairdo was copied by many young Japanese women, according to modern sources.
       Hepburn won an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance in Roman Holiday . As noted above, the film also earned an Oscar for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story), and Edith Head won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Albert), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction. The Directors Guild awarded Wyler with its "Outstanding Directorial Achievement" prize for his work on the picture. Modern sources note that as of early 1955, Roman Holiday had earned ten million dollars at the box office. Wyler's daughters, Cathy and Judy, appeared as school children in the Trevi fountain scene, according to modern sources. Modern sources also list Robert A. Belcher as assistant editor. In 1987, the NBC network televised a remake of Roman Holiday , directed by Noel Nosseck and starring Catherine Oxenberg and Tom Conti. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Jul 1953.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jun 53
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 91
p. 1, 22.
Daily Variety
12 May 93
p. 2, 12.
Film Daily
1 Jul 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 52
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 52
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4-6 Aug 2000.
---
Life
24 Aug 53
p. 76, 79-80.
Look
11 Aug 53
pp. 58-59.
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Aug 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1999.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 2011
p. D2.
Motion Picture Herald
22 Aug 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Jul 53
p. 1901.
New York Times
13 Jul 1952.
---
New York Times
13 Jul 53
sec. II, p. 5.
New York Times
28 Aug 53
p. 13.
New York Times
30 Aug 1953.
---
Newsweek
7 Sep 53
p. 86.
Time
7 Sep 52
pp. 60-62.
Variety
1 Jul 53
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
William Wyler's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
2d cam
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
MUSIC
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup supv
Hair dresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1953
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 27 August 1953
Los Angeles opening: 30 September 1953
Production Date:
23 June--11 October 1952 at Cinecittà Studios, Rome
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
2 September 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2890
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
118
Length(in reels):
12
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16114
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

While in Rome during a multi-city goodwill tour, Princess Anne, the youthful heir to a European crown, impresses the guests of an embassy ball with her charm and poise. Later, as she is preparing for bed, Anne, feeling overwhelmed by her tedious, endless schedule, starts to scream uncontrollably at her efficient secretary, Countess Vereberg. To calm her, Anne's doctor injects her with a sedative, but before the drug takes effect, Anne sneaks out of the palatial embassy and hides in the back of a truck. Anne jumps out when the truck reaches a lively part of town, but is already starting to yawn from the sedative. Soon after, American reporter Joe Bradley spots her prostrate on some stairs and hears her mumbling in English. Joe is unaware of her identity and assumes she is drunk, but reluctantly drags her into a cab. When Joe asks the increasingly groggy Anne for an address, she insists that she lives in the Colosseum. Not knowing what else to do, Joe takes Anne to his tiny apartment. There, while trying to undress herself so that she can don Joe's pajamas, Anne admits that she has never been alone with a man and begins to recite poetry. Frustrated, Joe goes out for coffee after instructing her to sleep on his couch. When he returns, however, he finds her curled up in his bed and rolls her onto the couch. The next day, Joe, who was scheduled to interview the princess that morning, wakes up late and rushes out, leaving behind the still sleeping Anne. At his newspaper office, Joe, unaware that the princess' activities for the day ... +


While in Rome during a multi-city goodwill tour, Princess Anne, the youthful heir to a European crown, impresses the guests of an embassy ball with her charm and poise. Later, as she is preparing for bed, Anne, feeling overwhelmed by her tedious, endless schedule, starts to scream uncontrollably at her efficient secretary, Countess Vereberg. To calm her, Anne's doctor injects her with a sedative, but before the drug takes effect, Anne sneaks out of the palatial embassy and hides in the back of a truck. Anne jumps out when the truck reaches a lively part of town, but is already starting to yawn from the sedative. Soon after, American reporter Joe Bradley spots her prostrate on some stairs and hears her mumbling in English. Joe is unaware of her identity and assumes she is drunk, but reluctantly drags her into a cab. When Joe asks the increasingly groggy Anne for an address, she insists that she lives in the Colosseum. Not knowing what else to do, Joe takes Anne to his tiny apartment. There, while trying to undress herself so that she can don Joe's pajamas, Anne admits that she has never been alone with a man and begins to recite poetry. Frustrated, Joe goes out for coffee after instructing her to sleep on his couch. When he returns, however, he finds her curled up in his bed and rolls her onto the couch. The next day, Joe, who was scheduled to interview the princess that morning, wakes up late and rushes out, leaving behind the still sleeping Anne. At his newspaper office, Joe, unaware that the princess' activities for the day have been cancelled, lies to Hennessy, his editor, that he conducted the interview. When Hennessy shows him a newspaper report about the princess' sudden "illness," Joe stares at the accompanying photograph and realizes that the princess is the woman on his couch. Seeing his opportunity, the perpetually broke Joe gets Hennessy to agree to pay him $5,000 if he produces an exclusive, revealing interview with the princess, complete with photographs. Back at Joe's apartment, Anne finally wakes up and introduces herself as Anya. After drawing Anne a bath, Joe slips out and telephones his photographer friend, Irving Radovich, telling him only that he needs him for an important story. Now bathed and dressed, a grateful Anne borrows 1,000 lire , or $1.50, from Joe and leaves on foot. Joe follows her, watching with amusement as she buys a pair of shoes from a street vendor. Anne then enters a barbershop and insists that the barber, Mario Delani, cut her long hair into a stylish bob. Mario is taken with the transformed Anne and invites her to a barge dance that night. With her last bit of money, Anne buys a gelato and at the Trevi fountain, is joined by Joe, who pretends he has run into her. Anne, in turn, claims she is a runaway schoolgirl and admits that her only desire is to spend the day having fun. Anxious to please, Joe takes her to a nearby cafe, where she meets Irving, who, unaware of Joe's scheme, almost reveals Joe's identity. After Joe fills him in, Irving, using a miniature camera hidden inside a cigarette lighter, snaps pictures of Anne smoking her first cigarette. The three then go sightseeing, and Anne, whom Irving nicknames "Smitty" after she states that her last name is Smith, jumps on a motorscooter Joe has rented and takes a wild ride around the plaza. The ride gets them arrested, but when Joe claims that he and Anne were on their way to get married, the police let them go. Anne and Joe test their truthfulness at the ancient sculpture Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth, and then visit a wall on which passersby post their hopes and wishes. Having made her wish, Anne asks to be taken to the barge dance near the Castel Saint Angelo and there enjoys a romantic dance with Joe. When Mario shows up and cuts in, Joe and Irving become excited imagining the publicity potential of the headline "The Princess and the Barber." Just then, secret service agents from Anne's homeland grab her and start to drag her away. Anne screams for Joe, who races to the rescue and instigates a brawl. Anne gleefully joins in the fracas and jumps in the Tiber River with Joe to escape capture. After swimming to safety, Joe and Anne embrace and kiss, then return to Joe's apartment. There, Anne hears a radio report about the distress her "illness" is causing her people and sadly tells Joe she must leave. Stopping near the embassy, Joe and Anne share a final, passionate kiss before Anne runs off into the night. In the embassy, Anne's advisors scold her for neglecting her duty, but Anne silences them by stating that duty was the only reason she came back. The next day, Hennessy drops by Joe's apartment, anxious to collect his story, and is dismayed when Joe insists he does not have one. Irving then shows up with the photographs he took of Anne, but Joe refuses to use them. Later, Anne appears at the previously scheduled press conference and is pleasantly surprised to see Joe and Irving there. After Joe lets her know through his public comments that her secrets are safe with him, Anne deviates from protocol and shakes hands with the reporters. Irving then gives her the photos he took, and with tears in her eyes, she tells Joe how much she has enjoyed meeting him. Heartbroken, Joe watches Anne retreat with her advisors and walks out of the embassy alone. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.