Need a fabulous escape from the dismal inanity of current events? This'll do it.
Fire up the time machine to August 27, 1953, sixty-six years ago yesterday. Eisenhower was President. The number one song on the radio was "Ebb Tide" by Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra. Dr. Alfred Kinsey was on the cover of Time Magazine.
And "Roman Holiday" premiered at Radio City Music Hall, starring the young Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert.
The film was universally adored. As Pauline Kael wrote, “This is the picture that made Audrey Hepburn a movie star. Wyler’s calm, elegant style prepares the scenes and builds the character until she has the audience in thrall, and when she smiles we’re all goners.”
The New York Times said it was "a bittersweet legend with laughs that leaves the spirits soaring." and "a credit to William Wyler's versatility."
Variety said, "This William Wyler romantic comedy-drama [from a story by Dalton Trumbo] is the Graustarkian fable in modern dress, plus the Cinderella theme in reverse. He times the chuckles with a never-flagging pace, puts heart into the laughs, endows the footage with some boff bits of business and points up some tender, poignant scenes in using the smart script and the cast to the utmost advantage. The aged face of the Eternal City provides a contrast to the picture’s introduction of a new face, Audrey Hepburn, the British ingenue who made an impression with legit-goers in "Gigi." Gregory Peck, in the role of the American newspaperman, figures importantly in making the picture zip along engrossingly. Eddie Albert makes a major comedy contribution as a photog who secretly lenses the princess during the 24 hours she steals away from the dull court routine."
And The Hollywood Reporter said, "William Wyler's first comedy in almost 20 years proves a charming, laugh-provoking affair that often explodes into hilarity. With Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn turning in superb performances, Roman Holiday is 118 minutes of sheer entertainment. The critical acclaim and word-of-mouth praise that is bound to come should help make it a box office bonanza."