Directed by William Wyler
Princess Anne's pretty, high-arched feet were tired. The endless rounds of official visits required of royalty on tour had left her toes cramped and sore. Her face showed no sign of her trouble as she stood —aloof, beautiful and dignified in flowing white brocade—to receive the distinguished noblemen and diplomats who thronged the glittering reception hall in the great palazzo. Gravely smiling, she greeted, in half-a-dozen languages, each baron and ambassador, each banker's lady and minister of state with the correct slight nod and carefully chosen words. There seemed to be not a flaw in the well-ordered proceedings. Then the camera peeped impertinently beneath the princess' royal skirts. It revealed the awful fact that she had slipped off one of her high-heeled shoes and, standing in perfect balance on one foot, was happily, restfully wriggling the toes of the other.
Exquisitely blending queenly dignity and bubbling mischief, a stick-slim actress with huge, limpid eyes and a heart-shaped face was teaching U.S. moviegoers last week a lesson they already knew and loved —i.e., that the life of a princess is not a happy one. Balcony bobby-soxers for years have shed pleasant tears at the plight of trapped royalty, and breathed a happy sigh of relief when at last the royal one escapes into a commoner's arms (Olivia de Havilland and a handsome pilot in 1943's Princess O'Rourke; Vera-Ellen and a tap-dancing reporter in 1953's Call Me Madam). As the princess in Paramount's new picture, Roman Holiday, the newcomer named Audrey Hepburn gives the popular old romantic nonsense a reality it has seldom had before. Amid the rhinestone glitter of Roman Holiday's make-believe, Paramount's new star sparkles and glows with the fire of a finely cut diamond. Impertinence, hauteur, sudden repentance, happiness, rebellion and fatigue supplant each other with lightning speed on her mobile, adolescent face.
Pathos & Dignity. When the movie princess escapes, on impulse, from dull routine and is found, drunk on a sedative, by Reporter Gregory Peck on a bench in a Roman park, Audrey makes her helplessness absolutely winning by her quiet assumption that Peck will tend to her needs just as her personal maid might. "I've never been alone with a man before," she says severely a bit later in Peck's apartment, "even with my dress on," and her trusting innocence becomes a sure guarantee of safety. Audrey Hepburn's princess seems never to forget her exalted station, even when she is gulping an ice cream cone, getting her hair cut or whamming a cop over the head with a guitar in a nightclub dustup. Yet to scenes where she is playing the princess proper, she brings a wistfulness that seems completely unposed. She can be infinitely appealing with her hair snarled and her dress dripping wet. In the film's final moments, she becomes a lonely little figure of great pathos and dignity.