BY DAYNA PAPALEO
(NR), directed by William Wyler
Screens Saturday at the Dryden
“And introducing Audrey Hepburn” reads the opening credits of “Roman Holiday,” the delightful romantic-comedy classic from three-time Oscar-winning director William Wyler that served as Hepburn’s debutante ball and enabled her to win her only Academy Award in her first starring role. Hepburn plays Princess Ann, young royalty from a never-named European country whose nonstop diplomatic duties are taking their toll. So one evening in Rome she sneaks out of her opulent lodgings before her sleeping sedative kicks in, waking up in the bed of the gentleman-ish reporter Joe Bradley (dashing Gregory Peck).
She says she’s a student named Anya; he says he sells fertilizer. But Joe, sniffing a story, talks the lonely princess into having her dream day in Rome, bringing Oscar-nominated bohemian shutterbug Eddie Albert along for the leisurely ride. And as our impossibly attractive central duo considers professional duty vs. love, we’re treated to a stunning Rome filled with ancient architecture and wildly gesticulating natives. The blacklisted Dalton Trumbo would wait years to receive proper credit for his Oscar-winning screenplay, a perfect showcase for that now-legendary Hepburn charm. Both of the leads spend much of the film in careful reaction to the other, but when she finally breaks into that wide, sunny smile…wow.