Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Roman Holiday (1953)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

When Irving leaves to develop the pictures he has been snapping all day, Joe and Ann wind up dancing on the barge that night. While on the barge, some of the men dispatched to find the Princess spot her. Bradley quickly falls in love with the Princess' naivete, radiance and beauty, and begins to question his original mercenary interest in her:

Ann: We spent the whole day doing things I've always wanted to. Why?
Joe: I don't know. It seemed the thing to do.
Ann: I never heard of anybody so kind.
Joe: It wasn't any trouble. (Deception #12)
Ann: Also, completely unselfish.

She meets Mario Delani, the barber who cut her hair (she mentions that he is now clean-shaven without the mustache he had earlier, like she is) (Deception #13). One of the royal black-hatted agents lurking around the premises begins dancing with Ann and then takes hold of her and proceeds to drag her to a waiting car after threatening: "Your Highness. You'll dance quietly towards the entrance. There is a car waiting." She resists: "You've made a mistake." (Deception #14)

During the ensuing melee, Joe and Irving struggle to prevent Ann from being taken away. Ann hits the royal agents over the head with beer bottles and then with a guitar taken from one of the band members. To avoid capture, both Joe and Ann jump in the water and swim for the shore. On dry land, they congratulate themselves on their successful escape and then kiss each other - they both find themselves desperately falling in love.

Back at Joe's apartment, after changing into drier clothes, he confesses that he has no kitchen and always eats out, pointedly thinking: "Life isn't always what one likes, is it?" After their long day together, she admits having had a tiring, but "wonderful day." A radio news broadcast informs them that the Princess' 'illness' is causing "alarm and anxiety among the people in her country."

Although they dream of becoming closer to each other, Ann also knows she will inevitably have to part from him and return to her other life and duties. At this crucial juncture after their long day together, Joe has decided to give up his 'exclusive' story about the Princess and not violate her privacy or exploit her. He begins to confess to his deceptions ("There's something that I want to tell you"), but Ann responds firmly that she has to resume her royal station in life:

Ann: I'm a good cook. I could earn my living at it. I can sew too and clean a house and iron. I learned to do all those things. I just haven't had the chance to do it for anyone.
Joe: Well, looks like I'll have to move. I'll get myself a place with a kitchen.
Ann: Yes. (after a long pause) I will have to go now. (They hug each other)
Joe: There's something that I want to tell you.
Ann: No please. Nothing. I must go and get dressed.

Joe drives her back to a street corner within sight of the imposing, imprisoning gates of the Embassy. In a memorable goodbye scene, she gives him difficult-to-hear directions:

Ann: I have to leave you now. I'm going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.
Joe: All right.
Ann: I don't know how to say goodbye. I can't think of any words.
Joe: Don't try. (They sadly hug and kiss each other for the last time)

The Princess leaves the car and he watches her disappear down a dark, empty little street as she runs back to the Embassy, returning to her cloistered and protected world.

The returning Princess is questioned about her long, twenty four hour absence, but she offers no explanation other than: "I was indisposed. I am better." (Deception #15) With a strong, self-confident voice, she tells the Ambassador (Harcourt Williams) that she realizes her royal duties (and rights) more clearly:

Your Excellency, I trust you will not find it necessary to use that word again. Were I not completely aware of my duty to my family and my country, I would not have come back tonight, or indeed ever again.

She dismisses them, and then with a commanding presence, reflecting her capability as a future ruler, orders: "No milk and crackers. That will be all, thank you, Countess."

During a brief meeting Joe has in his apartment with his boss, Hennessey - who "knows too much" - thinks Joe is playing "hard to get" to raise the price of his story: "A deal's a deal. Now, come on, come on, come on, where is that story?" Joe refuses to divulge his story scoop: "I have no story." (Deception #16) And then he tells Irving who has excitedly brought the developed photographs: "In regard to the story that goes with these (the pictures), there is no story...I mean that as far as I'm concerned."

Nonetheless, after Hennessey departs, Joe and Irving chuckle together and are amused by the pictures which show Ann with her first cigarette, her experience with the Mouth of Truth, the inscription "wall where wishes come true," their seizure at the police station ("Police inspects Princess"), dancing on the barge, and the climactic shot of Ann hitting one of the secret service over the head with a guitar ("Crowned Head"). Irving wishes to convince his friend that his paparazzi photos should be used: "She's fair game, Joe. It's always open season on Princesses. You must be out of your mind."

In the film's bittersweet, moving ending, in the day's press corps interview, she notices Joe and Irving in the front of the other reporters. Standing before the assembled reporters, she answers the first few political questions with double meanings directed particularly toward Joe, especially one question about the outlook for friendship among nations:

Ann: I have every faith in it as I have faith in relations between people.
Joe: May I say, speaking for my own press service, we believe that your Highness' faith will not be unjustified.
Ann: I am so glad to hear you say it.

She is asked by another reporter which city in her European tour she enjoyed most. The princess opposes her advisors who want her to give equal weight to every city on the tour. They coach her by whispering the acceptable answer to her. She abruptly changes her answer mid-stream and obliquely tells them all (and Joe) that she will never forget Rome (or him), expressing her own personal prerogative as a Princess:

Each in its own way was unforgettable. It would be difficult to...Rome, by all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.

When photographs are allowed to be taken during the session, Irving steps forward and surprises the Princess by revealing that his cigarette lighter is really a miniature camera. She steps forward to personally meet and shake hands with members of the press corps. Irving presents the Princess with some "commemorative photos" of her visit to Rome. She views the one of her smashing a guitar over an agent's head, smiles discreetly, and then formally thanks Irving: "Thank you so very much." And then when Joe and Ann meet, she can only be polite and impersonal: "So happy Mr. Bradley." Princess Ann cannot reveal the secret of her day with both of them. (Deception #17)

As she gives a final goodbye, she slowly turns toward the audience, gives a wide smile toward everyone (and then directly toward Joe), holds the tear-inducing gaze, and then departs. After the press corps has left, Joe stares at the door through which she left, never to see her again. With echoing footsteps, he slowly walks out of the room - the camera with a backward-moving tracking shot follows his retreat from the girl he loves. He turns one last time at the end of the hall to sadly look back before leaving.

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