Archive for August 8th, 2014

by Pat Perry

What makes a film “romantic”?

Must there be a passionate attraction between the leading man and leading lady?  Or can we count as romantic the lure of experiencing a foreign locale for the first time?  Can there be a kind of romance in escaping a dull, regimented life for a day of simple pleasures in an enticing and unfamiliar city: champagne sipped in a sidewalk cafe, a wild ride on a Vespa scooter, a new hairdo and a new pair of sandals to replace a pair of heavy sensible shoes?

Those are questions I asked myself when debating whether to vote for Roman Holiday in this year’s Romantic Film Countdown.  And then I answered them all with an emphatic “yes,” and went on to cast a vote for William Wyler’s sprightly, well-loved 1953 comedy.

Oh, sure, there’s a boy-meets-girl story in Roman Holiday – or more precisely, an opportunistic-reporter-meets-runaway-princess story that subtly conjures up memories of Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night. And that princess (Audrey Hepburn) and reporter (Gregory Peck) do exchange a kiss late in the film that seems to take them both by surprise with its passion and urgency.  (Until that moment, he’s been carefully guiding her through a series of Roman adventures in order to get an exclusive story on her whereabouts; as soon as the kiss happens, we know that story will never get filed.) But the traditional love story has never been the film’s greatest selling point, not for me anyway.  Rather, it’s the romance between Princess Anne and the city of Rome – her joyous discovery of its delights and her corresponding transformation from petulant young girl to confident adult woman as a result – that is its real heart. (more…)

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