Posts Tagged princess

Roman Holiday

DVD (1953)  Written by Ian McLellan Hunter / Directed by William Wyler

(image: Paramount)

I was raised on black-and-white movies. My dad is a film buff, and as for me, I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what Ioh, oops, flashback, sorry, I mean I saw hundreds of old movies as a child. Yet of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she…no wait, I mean, of all the old movies I’ve seen growing up, I don’t remember ever being shown an Audrey Hepburn film. So it was really exciting when I recently got to watch my first Hepburn film at the Oxford  in Halifax — a classic theatre, complete with balcony.

The film was Roman Holiday, a 1953 romance-comedy which tells the story of a princess and an unscrupulous American newspaper man. On a tour of Europe, Princess Anne (“from a country which shall remain nameless”) seems to be on the verge of losing her sanity.  Unable to handle the pressures of her  exhausting schedule, she slips away from her guardians in the middle of the night and enjoys 24 hours of freedom in Rome. She meets reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) who spends much of the day with her as she experiences life’s little pleasures, many of them for the first time. The catch is that she doesn’t know that he knows that she’s Princess Anne. He’s secretly recording her every move, and we’re cringing at the thought of what he’s going to do with the story once they part ways.

Hepburn has such likeability, and it’s no wonder she won an Oscar for this role. If you’ve never seen Audrey Hepburn in action, you’ll fall in love with her here. Her character’s sparkling personality and naïveté is such a great contrast to co-star Gregory Peck, who is tall, dark and kinda grumpy and bitter.  The story feels so fresh and clever, despite the age of the film. Watching Roman Holiday caused me to re-assess my definition of rom-coms, which I truly thought was etched in stone when I started this blog. So I don’t spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I’ll just say the ending of Roman Holiday pleasantly surprised me. I loved how it played out, and it brought to mind the wise words of my screenwriting professor which I have since added to my article What’s a romantic comedy? Not this.

Sweet extras The 1994 film Only You referenced Roman Holiday in more ways than I originally realized. The most obvious, of course,  is the visit to the ancient sculpture La Bocca della Verità (“The Mouth of Truth”), a scene in which Tomei and Downey Jr. actually recite lines from the Hepburn-Peck film. Watch both films and see if you can spot the references to Roman Holiday in Only You. I found five.

Good for who? This is a movie for absolutely anyone, except those who really dislike black-and-white movies. There is a colourized version of the film available, but I encourage you to watch it in black and white—the way the good Lord intended it!

 

Loved this movie? Live this movie!

When life overwhelms you and drives you to little princess hissy fits, take a lesson from Princess Anne and shake up your routine. Explore your own city or a nearby town, or maybe just try something you’ve never tried before: a new hairstyle, gelato, or perhaps a little champagne with your lunch. The idea is just to get out, enjoy something new, and appreciate the little things each day has to offer. I’ve been working on a writing project for the past two weeks and yesterday decided I needed a Princess-Anne-inspired break. With a Pavarotti CD, a bag of roast chicken chips, and my smelly dog Chachi, I drove to Wolfville, a little college town I love about 45 minutes away. Wolfville is not Rome, and I am no princess, but you get the idea. This would be a nice afternoon to myself.

Since the whole experience was about exploring and trying something new, I’m proud to say that I learned two new things about my dog that day: one, he is not a Pavarotti enthusiast (see photo. His ears are back. I think they’re bleeding.), and two, Chach is a little Houdini. When we first got out of the car, he slipped his collar while my back was turned. I found him at the side of a pizzeria, a few blades of grass stuck to his face. I scolded him, but he seemed in great spirits and was jumping around happily. I think the little numbskull was having his own Audrey Hepburn moment.

We strolled for a half hour, enjoying the sun that had broken through the clouds. I then put Chachi in the car while I explored a few shops and ate lunch. I chose a creepy dark pub where I was one of three seated customers. There were two junkies at the bar. I watched a darts competition on the widescreen and admired a set of faux Greek vases next to the beer signs. I said to the waitress: “I want to try something I’ve never tried. Name some weird things you serve.” She suggested some sort of mundane sandwich with a pickle. I exclaimed “Seafood chowder! Got any?” My plan had been to go my entire life without eating seafood chowder (most seafood does not appeal to me) but heck, I’d do it for Audrey. The waitress said that yes, she had some homemade Nova Scotia chowder, but she looked very concerned as she said “It’s got lobster in it…it’s got scallops in it… it’s in milk…it comes with a roll…” She said these things as if it were a list of dire warnings. No matter, I said, please bring it to me with a Diet Coke.

The chowder soon arrived — with some of the sauce splashed around the sides of the bowl as if the haddock had been jumping mere seconds ago — and I was taken aback. “Lady,” I wanted to say to the waitress, “this fish soup smells like fish!”   But it was actually very good, although way too rich in taste for me to finish.  It was like a Hershey’s Cookies n’ Crème chocolate bar in that way,  only full of fish.  In the bathroom stall afterward, I was scrawling notes about the chowder and when I got  up, my pen dropped into the toilet. I would have left it there, but this was the last of my favourite pens (Basin Stationary has discontinued them). So the Princess put her hand into Rome’s Mouth of Truth and I put mine into Wolfville’s toilet water. Ah, sweet synchronicity.

The best discovery of the afternoon was an excellent used bookstore called The Odd Book which has a terrific history and classics section. I bought a book called Late Medieval Italy, and I could have browsed the store all afternoon had I not been required to return to my responsibilities and duties as princess of the Woodlawn subdivision.  I returned a better, more worldly woman.

Paula Jane

 

 

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Enchanted

DVD (2007)  Written by Bill Kelly/Directed by Kevin Lima                                   STARRING: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden

I think Enchanted is a test of the viewer’s ‘goodness’ level. If you watch this movie in its entirety and the absolute sweetness of it doesn’t touch you – even just a little — then clearly you and your heart were forged in the fires at Mount Doom. I am always secretly teary-eyed at the end of this movie. Is it because of the happy endings for all? Is it Jon McLaughlin singing So Close as the lead characters dance together? Is it that the hapless chipmunk finally returns to Andalasia, regaining his voice and perhaps even his status as a woodland sex symbol? I don’t know, but this is such a funny and friendly movie that casting ill feelings toward it in any way would be like running over a box of puppies or strangling the life out of Maria von Trapp.

What I really like about Enchanted is that it pokes fun at itself and of the whole fairytale genre, yet at the same time it embraces the beauty of seeing the world in an innocent, positive way. True love, the movie concludes, really is magical. (Starting to tear up again, people. Talk amongst yourselves …)

Amy Adams plays Giselle, a cartoon fairytale princess who is just moments away from marrying her prince. Worrying that the marriage will end her reign as queen, the prince’s stepmother (she’s wicked, you see) must stop the pair from sharing “true love’s kiss.”  Giselle is then shoved down a wishing well, and sent to a place where “there are no happily ever afters”—a.k.a New York City. The movie begins as animation, but as Giselle crawls up through a manhole in the middle of  Times Square, the film switches to live action and it is here in this bizarre unfamiliar world of the living that Giselle meets her second love interest—Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey). Robert is a divorce lawyer who doesn’t believe in happy endings and doesn’t want his daughter to waste her time believing in them either. Patrick Dempsey’s cynical and serious character is the perfect contrast to the goofball innocence of Amy Adams who skips through the movie with a perpetual deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. Other cast members include Susan Sarandon as the evil Queen Narissa, and the handsome multi-talented James Marsden as the loveable narcissist Prince Edward. He fights ogres and slays New York City transit busses to rescue Giselle.

Enchanted is usually listed as a kids movie, but the movie is very much for adults too. This film has been in my top romantic comedy favourites since I first saw it in the theatre in 2007. If you like Patrick Dempsey, or Amy Adams, this one shouldn’t be missed.

Sweet extras The movie has several musical numbers, and Amy Adams sings three of them. James Marsden sings as well.

Good for who? This is a great pick for families, or for moms looking to watch a romantic comedy without having to worry about content should the kids pop into the room.

My 12-year-old daughter Mei says: I like this movie a lot. It is a fairy tale with a twist of reality (which I really like). It’s really funny and romantic and I think any kid would like it.

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Sing a happy working song

And they cleaned happily ever after My favourite scene in the movie comes when Giselle wakes and decides she must clean Robert’s messy apartment.  With a melodic call from the window of Robert’s highrise apartment, she summons an assortment of New York City “wildlife” to help her in the task — including flies, roaches, and filthy rats licking their wee wees. What follows is a musical number called Happy Working Song, and without a word of a lie, I do sing this quite a bit while cleaning. Granted, I don’t usually remember most of the words in order, and end up mixing real lyrics with made up stuff like “…cleaning crud up in the kitchen,  la la la I’m Robert Mitchum…”  But it’s the spirit of the exercise that counts, and the song does put me into a happier mood as I straighten up. The entire soundtrack is actually quite fun to listen to during an afternoon of  housework. So put on your wedding dress or tuxedo, grab a broom, and sing along with me (or the soundtrack), won’t you?  Here are  the words:

Happy Working Song

Composed by Alan Menken/Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Come my little friends
As we all sing a happy little working song
Merry little voices clear and strong
Come and roll your sleeves up,
So to speak, and pitch in
Cleaning crud up in the kitchen
As we sing along

Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Pluck a hairball from the shower drain
To that gay refrain
Of a happy working song

We’ll keep singing without fail
Otherwise we’d spoil it
Hosing down the garbage pail
And scrubbing up the toilet
Ooh!

How we all enjoy letting loose with a little
“La-da-dum-dum-dum”
While we’re emptying the vacu-um
It’s such fun to hum
A happy working song
Hmmm
A happy working song

Oh, how strange a place to be
Till Edward comes for me
My heart is sighing
Still, as long as I am here
I guess a new experience
Could be worth trying
Hey! Keep drying!

You can do a lot when you’ve got
Such a happy working tune to hum
While you’re sponging up the soapy scum
We adore each filthy chore
That we determine
So, friends, even though you’re vermin
We’re a happy working throng

Singing as we fetch the detergent box
For the smelly shirts and the stinky socks
Sing along
If you can not sing then hum along
As we’re finishing our happy working song!

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