I’ve spent much of the last month watching Audrey Hepburn movies for an upcoming Dissolve feature (long-time Dissolvers should be able to guess which one), so I’m excited about today being Hepburn’s “Summer Under The Stars” day on Turner Classic Movies, in part because TCM is showing a couple of pre-stardom films I haven’t yet seen, and in part because I’ve a little bit obsessed with Audrey right now. I have a lot of thoughts about Ms. Hepburn that I’m looking forward to sharing a couple of months from now, but here’s one you can use today: Roman Holiday (airing tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern) is a damn-near perfect movie, and easily the best representation of Hepburn’s strengths during the first phase of her career. Playing an overwhelmed princess on a whirlwind European tour, Hepburn is like a lost little girl at the start of the film, and then an enthusiastic adventurer when she escapes the embassy and begins to travel around Rome, shadowed by an American journalist (played by Gregory Peck). Then she takes another turn at the end of the film, accepting adult responsibility in an extended concluding scene that’s achingly lovely. As I’ll get into more in October, too many Hollywood films tried use Audrey Hepburn’s one-of-a-kind screen presence as a way to say something dubious about femininity in the 1950s. But Roman Holiday is about Hepburn’s character coming into her own, and the men falling in line.
August 22, 2014 newsreel