Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roman Holiday

One of my favorite old movies is the tried and true Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
image via fashion & power

This wasn't Audrey Hepburn's first foray into film; she had been in other pictures, but this was her first big American movie.  She had been in Gigi on Broadway (she had been discovered in Monte Carlo by the famous French author of Gigi, Colette.)  I love the story behind Roman Holiday; Hepburn wasn't the first choice for the movie, her screen test wasn't that great...  The camera man, whether by happy accident or because the director, William Wyler, instructed him to, left the camera running after Hepburn's screen test was over, and caught her in a more comfortable state.  It was because of that recording, when she didn't know that she was being filmed, that Audrey Hepburn landed her first major role.

image via pariscene
Another behind-the-scenes aspect of the film that I love is that in the beginning, only Gregory Peck was set to receive top billing.  Audrey's name would appear on the poster, but not as the star.  It was at Gregory Peck's insistence that she be moved to the top of the poster and receive top billing too.  He later said that it wasn't due to any chivalry on his part, he just knew she was destined to be a big star and it "would be foolish any other way."  

image via

The movie, of course, was filmed on location- something almost unheard of at the time.  It's because it was actually filmed in Rome that the movie was made in black and white- there just wasn't enough money in the budget.  Had it been filmed in Hollywood on a movie lot, it probably would have been in color (and I would know what color the shoes she buys from the Italian market place actually were!)  It was also said that it was filmed on location in black and white so the location would blend in with the characters, and act as a character itself.
Anyway.  The scene above, at the Mouth of Truth, is a classic.  The legend goes that if you put your hand into the mouth of truth, if you are a liar it will get bitten off.  Gregory Peck, remembering an old Red Skelton bit, put his hand in and pretended it was being bitten off, and then pulled his hand, which was tucked into his sleeve, out of the mouth.  The great thing is that Audrey Hepburn had no idea he was planning on doing that, so her reaction in the film is genuine.
Just as he had kind words to say about Audrey Hepburn, she had kind words to say about when she met the fabulous Gregory Peck: "The beautiful, quiet, gentle hero of countless, marvelous movies.  In my  innocence, I thought he'd be just like that.  He was."

image via fashion & power
The costumer for the movie was, of course, Edith Head (later Hepburn would turn to Givenchy for her wardrobe needs).  Head was the one behind the fabulous outfit Hepburn's character wears throughout the bulk of the film.  She takes a simple skirt and button down from day to night and situation to situation with just a few smart choices.  One way she changes things up- easy- she rolls the sleeves on the classic white button down. Another way- she wears a scarf around her neck and ties it in different ways.  (Head's reason for the scarf was twofold- she needed to change the look up, and she didn't like Hepburn's collar bone.)
I am in love with the simplicity of the day outfit that Hepburn wears on her Roman Holiday, and my summer mission is to recreate it.  Most of all, I want those lace up shoes she wears.  Rebecca has a very cute pair of shoes that are really reminiscent of those from the film, but she bought them seasons ago at Ann Taylor Loft and they are (sadly) no longer available.  I've done my best to find some similar pairs on the web, and, like I said, I will be keeping my eyes open this summer for them.
Hepburn and Peck playing cards between takes
Hepburn and Peck playing cards between takes.
Man, I love those shoes!

image via 

the holepunch flat sandal from Madewell

Fiel Women's Arcas Ankle Wrap Ballet Flat at Endless

Minimarket Lace-up sandals available at the Outnet

Roman Holiday Greeting Card
adorable card by etsy seller Lizzie Lamb

Vintage Postcard Rebecca's friend brought  back for her from a recent trip to Italy.  I love the idea  of buying postcards from your travels, whether for yourself or as a thoughtful gift. 




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