Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday (1953), produced and directed by William Wyler.

A young princess, tightly scheduled and over-managed on a European PR tour, longs to break free and experience life with the common people. Maybe sleep in pajamas, just the tops. Or nothing at all. Under the influence of a sedative she does escape and encounters American reporter Gregory Peck, who helps her with grudging gallantry until he learns her identity and senses a Big Story.

This is gold, head and shoulders above even good romantic comedies in its depth and warmth and beautiful settings, filmed entirely in Rome. It says "Introducing" Audrey Hepburn; she has earlier IMDB listings but it is an auspicious early starring role. Incandescent beauty and comic charm.

In panic, waking up after a night of amnesia, her hand darts under the blanket to check for undergarments. He: "Lose something?" She (with relief): "No."

We see how even a rough gentleman handled a drunken woman in film in those days: put her in a cab. Driver doesn't want her? Ok, take her home, here are those pajamas, but you sleep on the sofa, not in my bed.

Peck's is a well-known character -- the cynical reporter with his gambling buddies and ranting hard-bitten editor -- but he makes him likeable with a light comic touch, vulnerable to romantic allure.

In a lovely scene toward the end she's out of her clothes again and in a bathrobe and they share a little wine. Both thinking: this is when we could have sex. And they don't.

Unusually for Hollywood, the story ends on a moment of honesty, and the couple part with no hope of meeting again, both of them understanding this is best. It's intriguing that director Wyler would be so good at this. Most of his titles were more dramatic films:

...although he did other comedies, such as How to Steal a Million (1966), also with Hepburn.

Edith Head costumes. I noticed Georges Auric's fine score more this time.

Where's the Blu-ray?