Here in the age of High Definition, black and white movies are getting quite rare on local television and cable outside of a speciality channel or two. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not some fossil who is stuck back in the time when B&W was state of the art for movie making. Color came of age in the movies and on television during the same period of time I did.
I have loved movies for as long as I can remember. Seeing them is a favorite pastime whether at a theatre several times per month, watching favorites again at home or discovering old ones that are new to me on DVD or at the local art theatre. I am grateful for the hundreds of hours I have spent in interesting places and within fascinating stories from the comfort of my seat.
Contemporary movies filmed and shown in the new 3-D are enjoyable. “Avatar” in 3-D was so awesome I ended up seeing in on the big screen six times. I was always glad to accompany another friend to the theatre who had not seen it but wanted to go (the movie was such a hit it was at the theatres for well over six months). On the other hand I am glad many new movies like “Super 8” produced by Steven Spielberg was not shot or shown in 3-D. A friend and I saw that film yesterday and enjoyed the sort of “Goonies” gone sci-fi movie.
On my list of favorite motion pictures are films from almost all genres: action, drama, science fiction, epic, thriller, love story, family, western, adventure, fantasy, comedy and more. This long weekend I discovered a great old love story movie that was new to me. Over the years here and there I have caught a few scenes of “Roman Holiday” but never have seen the whole thing. It has been on my “to see” list for a long time. Friday after work I stopped by a favorite used movie store and found a pristine copy of “Roman Holiday”. Friday night it was my evening’s entertainment.
“Roman Holiday” is a wonderful old “G” movie made in 1953. Audrey Hepburn became a star with this film, in which she played a princess (Princess Ann). In it she is anxious to have some fun before she is made numb for life by the monotony of “affairs of state.” On a diplomatic visit to Rome, the princess escapes her keepers and goes incognito out into the Eternal City. She happens to meet American journalist (Joe Bradley) played by Gregory Peck, who, recognizing a hot news story, pretends that he doesn’t recognize her and offers to give her a guided tour of Rome. Eddie Albert is Peck’s photographer side-kick in the movie. Naturally, Peck and Hepburn’s characters fall in love. In her first major motion picture the 24-year-old Hepburn won an Academy Award for “Roman Holiday” for best actress. Several other Oscar’s were won by the film as well.
In one of the more touching scenes in “Roman Holiday” is this dialogue:
Princess 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 Bradley: All right.
Princess Ann: I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t think of any words.
Joe Bradley: Don’t try.
I will admit I have never been much of an Audrey Hepburn fan, at least not until now. Seeing “Roman Holiday” helped me to realize what a good actress she was and one who was attractive in an unaffected way. Already I have been on Amazon.com looking up her later movies like “Breakfast at Tiffanies” and sorting out which ones I want to see. In discovering Ms. Hepburn it seems like I have discovered a little vein of gold that I get to mine.
In the last two days, I have seen two movies. One was brand new and another is almost 60 years old. There is no certainty within why I will remember one more than the other. Sitting here typing at this moment I know clearly it is “Roman Holiday” that will stick with me the strongest. Why? Because the movie made me feel good. However implausible the story may be, its conclusion seemed perfectly fitting and realistic.
Soon Ms. Hepburn will have been gone 20 years and Mr. Peck died nearly a decade ago. While I can’t express my gratitude directly to them, I can write of it here with you as my witness. I am glad I purchased a copy of “Roman Holiday” for I know it will be one I pull out every so often and watch again. In my heart and mind the characters and the man and woman who played them are immortal.
You must know that in any moment a decision you make can change the course of your life forever: the very next person standing behind in line or sitting next to on an airplane, the very next phone call you make or receive, the very next movie you see or book you read or page you turn could be the one single thing that causes the floodgates to open, and all of the things that you’ve been waiting for to fall into place. Anthony Robbins