“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)
In the 1953 movie Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn plays a young princess on a demanding good-will tour of Europe, who toward the end of her whirlwind trip has a minor nervous breakdown one evening while being briefed for the next day’s activities.
She is given a slow-acting drug to calm her nerves and to help her to sleep. But before the drug can take effect, she manages successfully to put into action a spur-of-the-moment idea she had earlier that evening…to escape that same night out of the embassy palace into the “carefree” outside world for some fun and adventure.
The other main actor in this movie, Gregory Peck, finds Princess Anne (Hepburn) about to fall asleep on a bench along a public street.
Not knowing what to do with the seemingly half-intoxicated, well-dressed, and beautiful young woman with no place to go, Peck plays the Good Samaritan and takes her to his studio apartment to safely sleep it off.
This sets the scene for the Roman “holiday” the next day that will dramatically change both their lives.
Briefly, the plot of the story is that Peck, a newspaper reporter, discovers the next morning that Anne is the visiting foreign princess who has supposedly taken ill and cancelled all public appearances, yet astoundingly is sound asleep in his apartment.
When Hepburn does finally wake up later that morning, she does not suspect that Peck knows that she is the Princess Anne. Peck offers to show her the town as a ruse to create a front-page story, and they have fun all day getting in and out of minor trouble while visiting the tourist sites in Rome.
Audrey Hepburn does not know that Gregory Peck is a newspaper reporter out to get an exclusive story on the day in the life of a princess escaped incognito “out on the town,” who has seemingly dropped out of nowhere into his world.
Peck is helped in his scheme by his photographer friend in the movie, the actor Eddie Albert.
But the unexpected happens. At an outdoor dance along a waterfront barge that evening with Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert, Hepburn is recognized by her country’s secret service. In their attempt to pull her away toward a limousine to take her back to the embassy palace, Peck and Albert come to her rescue, a wonderful brawl ensues, and Peck and Hepburn jump into the water to escape, swimming to safety to a nearby shore while the police arrest the disguised in-plain-clothes secret service agents.
There they sit down to rest for a moment to catch their breath, and break into laughter about the excitement and adventure of their narrow escape. Wet and cold, Peck puts his arm around Hepburn, they unexpectedly kiss, and while looking intently into each other’s eyes they discover through the course of the day’s events that they have somehow fallen in love.
Back at Peck’s apartment later to change clothes and dry off, Hepburn (Princess Anne) realizes she has fallen in love with this handsome man, and if she were free to have her way would like to explore the possibility of spending the rest of her life with him.
But they both know, for reasons that cannot be verbalized for the time being, that in reality their one-day romance can only last for a single day.
Peck cannot come out and reveal his intentions without ruining this journalistic opportunity, and Hepburn still thinks that Peck does not know who she really is (the movie script leaves out the obvious question that should have been asked by Peck after their narrow escape: “Why were those men attempting to abduct you?”).
Anne offers to cook something for them to eat and finds out that he does not have a kitchen. He tells her that he always eats out. She asks him: “Do you like that?”
He then utters a line that is the secondary theme of the movie: “Life isn’t always what we would like it to be.” She answers: “No, it isn’t.”
Audrey Hepburn’s character is torn between her duty to continue being the princess and future sovereign in her country, and her personal desire to run off with Gregory Peck.
She chooses to return to the embassy palace. Peck then drives her to within a short walking distance from the palace entrance, both still attempting to hide their true identities, and they tearfully part.