AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Roman Holiday
Director: William Wyler (Dir)
Release Date:   Sep 1953
Premiere Information:   World premiere in New York: 27 Aug 1953; Los Angeles opening: 30 Sep 1953
Production Date:   23 Jun--11 Oct 1952 at Cinecittà Studios, Rome
Duration (in mins):   118
Duration (in reels):   12
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Gregory Peck (Joe Bradley)  
  and introducing Audrey Hepburn (Princess Anne, also known as Anya "Smitty" Smith)  
    Eddie Albert (Irving Radovich)  
    Hartley Power (Mr. Hennessy)  
    Harcourt Williams (Ambassador)  
    Margaret Rawlings (Countess Vereberg)  
    Tullio Carminati (General Provno)  
    Paolo Carlini (Mario Delani)  
    Claudio Ermelli (Giovanni)  
    Paola Borboni (Charwoman)  
    Alfredo Rizzo (Taxicab driver)  
    Laura Solari (Hennessy's secretary)  
    Gorella Gori (Shoe seller)  
    Heinz Heindrich (Dr. Bonnachoven)  
    John Horne (Master of ceremonies)  
    Count Andrea Eszterhazy (Embassy aide)  
    Col. Ugo Ballerini (Embassy aide)  
    Ugo De Pascale (Embassy aide)  
    Bruno Baschiera (Embassy aide)  
    Princess Alma Cattaneo (Lady in waiting)  
    Diana Lante (Lady in waiting)  
    Giacomo Penza (H.E. The Papal Nuncio Monsignor Altomonte)  
    Eric Oulton (Sir Hugo Macy de Farmington)  
    Rapindranath Mitter (H.R.H. The Maharajah)  
    Princess Lilamani (The Raikuùari of Khanipur)  
    Cesare Vieri (Prince Istvar Barlossy Nagyavaros)  
    Col. Nicola Konopleff (Ihre Hoheit der Furst und die Furstin von und zu Luchtenstichenholz)  
    Teresa Gauthier (Ihre Hoheit der Furst und die Furstin von und zu Luchtenstichenholz)  
    Sir Hari Singh (Hari Singh)  
    Kmark Singh (Kmark Singh)  
    Count Von Marstrand (Luigi Locchi)  
    Countess Von Marstrand (Helen Fondra)  
    Senhor Joaquin de Capoes (Mario Luciani)  
    Senhora Joaquin de Capoes (Gherda Fehrer)  
    Hassan El Din Pasha (Luis Marino)  
    Armando Annuale (Admiral dancing with princess)  
    Luigi Moneta (Old man dancing with princess)  
    Marco Tulli (Pallid young man dancing with princess)  
    Maurizio Arena (Young boy with motorcar)  
    John Fostini (Correspondent at poker game)  
    George Higgins (Correspondent at poker game)  
    Alfred Brown (Correspondent at poker game)  
    John Cortay (Correspondent at poker game)  
    Richard McNamara (Correspondent at poker game)  
    Sidney Gordon (Correspondent at poker game)  
    Richard Neuhaus (Embassy guard reporting)  
    Alcide Ticò (Sculptor)  
    Tania Weber (Irving's model)  
    Armando Ambrogi (Man at the telephone)  
    Patricia Varner (Schoolmarm at Fontana di Trevi)  
    Gildo Bocci (Flower seller)  
    Giustino Olivieri (Waiter at cafe)  
    Dianora Veiga (Girl at cafe waving at Irving)  
    Dominique Rika (Girl at cafe waving at Irving)  
    Gianna Segale (Girl at cafe waving at Irving)  
    Carlo Rizzo (Police official)  
    Mimmo Poli (Workman hugging the three outside police station)  
    Octave Senoret (Faceless man on the barge)  
    Pietro Pastore (Faceless man on the barge)  
    Giuliano Raffaelli (Faceless man on the barge)  
    Disiderio Nobile (Embassy official at press conference)  
    Edward Hitchcock (Head of foreign correspondents)  
    Hank Werba (Speaking correspondent)  
    Adam Jennette (Speaking correspondent)  
    Jan Dijkgraaf (Speaking correspondent)  
    Piero Scanziani (Piero Scanziani of "La Suisse")  
    Kurt Klinger (Kurt Klinger of the "Deutsch Press Agentur")  
    Maurice Montabrè (Maurice Montabrè of "Le Figaro")  
    Sytske Galema (Sytske Galema of "De Linie")  
    Jacques Ferrier (Jacques Ferrier of "Ici Paris")  
    Otto Gross (Otto Gross of "Davar")  
    Julian Cortes Cavanillas (Julian Cortes Cavanillas of "ABC," Madrid)  
    Friedrich Lampe (Friedrich Lampe of "New York Herald-Tribune")  
    Julio Moriones (Julio Moriones of "La Vanguardia")  
    Stephen House (Stephen House of "The London Exchange Telegraph")  
    Ferdinanda De Aldisio (Ferdinanda De Aldisio of "Agence Press")  
    S. Bagolini    
    A. Trilli    
    G. Kabulska    
    J. Van Hulsen    
    F. Corsaro    
    H. Tubbs    
    P. Gary    

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: William Wyler's Production
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures Corp.  
Director: William Wyler (Dir)
  Herbert Coleman (Asst dir)
  Piero Mussetta (Asst dir)
Producer: William Wyler (Prod)
  Robert Wyler (Assoc prod)
Writer: Ian McLellan Hunter (Scr)
  John Dighton (Scr)
  Dalton Trumbo (Scr)
  Ian McLellan Hunter (Story)
  Dalton Trumbo (Story)
Photography: Frank F. Planer (Dir of photog)
  Henri Alekan (Dir of photog)
  Enzo Barboni (2d cam)
  Fernando Tinelli (Cam asst)
  Peter Poor (Cam asst)
  Enzo Zocchi (Gaffer)
  A. Di Giovanni (Stills)
  Giuseppe Fiori (Grip)
  Athos Mambro (Grip)
  Dario Taddei (Best boy)
Art Direction: Hal Pereira (Art dir)
  Walter Tyler (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Swink (Ed)
Set Decoration: Scipio Lombardi (Props)
  Elso Valentini (Props)
  Vittorio Valentini (Props)
  Luciano Sacripante (Props)
Costumes: Edith Head (Cost)
  Annalisa Nasalli-Rocca (Ward)
  Franco Salvi (Ward)
Music: Georges Auric (Mus score)
Sound: Joseph De Bretagne (Sd rec)
Make Up: Wally Westmore (Makeup supv)
  Alberto De Rossi (Makeup supv)
  Anna Cristofani (Hair dresser)
Production Misc: Maurice Lodi Fe (Unit mgr)
  Charles Woolstenhulme (Unit mgr)
  Hazel Swift (Scr supv)
Country: Italy and United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures Corp. 2/9/1953 dd/mm/yyyy LP2890 Yes

PCA NO: 16114
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Romantic comedy
Subjects (Major): Americans in foreign countries
  Impersonation and imposture
  Rome (Italy)
Subjects (Minor): Arrests
  Balls (Parties)
  Barbers and barbershops
  Ice cream
  Imaginary lands
  Poker (Game)
  Press conferences
  Sleeping potions
  Taxicab drivers
  Tiber River (Italy)

Note: 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.   
Los Angeles Examiner   25 Aug 1953.   
Los Angeles Times   25 Aug 1999.   
Los Angeles Times   20 Dec 2011   p. D2.
Life   24 Aug 53   p. 76, 79-80.
Look   11 Aug 53   pp. 58-59.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   4 Jul 53   p. 1901.
Motion Picture Herald   22 Aug 1953.   
Newsweek   7 Sep 53   p. 86.
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.   
Time   7 Sep 52   pp. 60-62.
Variety   1 Jul 53   p. 6.

Display Movie Summary
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.