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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's nothing very objectionable in Roman Holiday. There's a scene in which the princess tries her first cigarette and another including a frenetic brawl on a barge. Both the male and female leads are good role models by the end of the film. Younger children will be able to follow the plot easily.
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What's the story?
While on a goodwill tour of Western Europe, young Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) has a nervous breakdown during her ROMAN HOLIDAY. After receiving a shot of sleeping medicine from her doctor, she sneaks out of the embassy. The sheltered princess wants a real taste of Rome nightlife but, in her drugged state, winds up on a park bench instead. Not-so-mild-mannered reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) mistakes her for a polished drunk and comes to her rescue. But the bachelor certainly doesn't want to be responsible for her. When he can't shake the sleeping beauty, he lets her stay in his apartment, only to find out the next morning that he has a hot (in the stolen sense) princess on his divan. By concealing that he's a newspaperman, Joe gets the scoop of the decade. He poses as a fertilizer salesman to learn the princess's innermost desires, her views on world affairs, and her thoughts on fashion (which are worth the most, of course).
Is it any good?
This classic film is all about the eye candy. Hepburn (in her debut performance), tall, dark, and handsome leading man Peck, and Rome -- what more could you ask for in a romance? As the princess pretends to be schoolgirl Anya Smith and Joe Bradley pretends to believe her, the two spend the day playing hooky in Rome, Ferris Bueller-style. They are joined by Joe's photographer friend Irving (Eddie Albert), who snaps pictures of the princess without her knowledge. Albert is always a colorful character actor to add to the mix.
Ultimately, Princess Ann faces a dilemma considerably more poignant than any Ferris Bueller might have had. The age old duty-versus-love conflict plagues her as she decides whether she wants to stay with the man of her dreams or fulfill her royal obligations. Kids will have fun watching her journey in Roman Holiday and debating her ultimate decision.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the moral decisions the main characters have to make in Roman Holiday. Do you think Princess Ann made the right choice? Why did Joe Bradley act as he did in the beginning of the film? How about at the end? If you had an obligation to family that interfered with love, which would you choose?
How do you think this movie would be different if it was remade for contemporary audiences?
How do the gender roles shown in this film reflect the time in which it was made?
- In theaters: September 2, 1953
- On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2004
- Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Gregory Peck
- Director: William Wyler
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Classic
- Topics: Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 10, 2020
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