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When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital
Posted August 09, 2010 to photo album "When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital"
As part of Movie City Rome, Nick Dawson takes a trip through cinema history and examines the different ways filmmakers have portrayed the Italian capital on the big screen.
Slide 5: Roman Holiday (1953)
William Wyler was one of about 60 assistant directors working on the disastrous chariot race on the 1925 version of Ben-Hur, so he was no doubt aware of the perils of shooting abroad, far from the familiarities of the Hollywood system. Nevertheless, Wyler decamped to Rome in the early 1950s to make Roman Holiday, a delightful romance starring Audrey Hepburn as a princess who ends up alone and incognito in the Italian capital. Hepburn’s princess is taken in by American journalist Gregory Peck, and the two fall in love as he shows her around the city, providing a perfect opportunity for Wyler to show the city and all its tourist attractions. The two travel around on Peck’s Vespa, visiting the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Tiber, the Colosseum, and La bocca della verità, the “Mouth of Truth,” a marble statue of a face that, according to legend, bites off the hands of liars. (There, Peck pretends to have lost his hand, causing Hepburn to scream; her fright was real, as he hadn’t warned her about the gag.) The huge success of the movie not only paved the way for Wyler to return to Rome later in the decade to shoot his own version of Ben-Hur, but started Hollywood’s love affair with Rome. The very next year, Three Coins in a Fountain once again showed audiences that Rome was a city of love, while over the years films like Gidget Goes to Rome, Only You and When in Rome have only reinforced that image.