Sneak away and enjoy two perfectly paired films, mood food and a classic attitude that’ll carry you through ’til the next rendezvous…
THE FILMS: Roman Holiday (1953) starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn; Directed by WilliamWyler; Story by Dalton Trumbo (prior to 1993 credited to Ian McClellan Hunter) written by Dalton Trumbo (prior to 2011 uncredited), Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton; and Trumbo (2007) documentary, some of the actors featured: Paul Giamatti, Josh Lucas, Nathan Lane; Directed by Peter Askin; Written by Christopher Trumbo.
THE CONNECTION: One is a black-and-white, classic romantic comedy, set in post war Italy; the other a documentary about the black-listed Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, yet both, surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, tell the tale of true love, secrets, and sacrifice.
Roman Holiday stars Gregory Peck and, in her first American film, Audrey Hepburn, who plays Princess Anne. Uncomfortable in her official role and chafing against its demands, the young Princess runs away and meets Joe Bradley (Peck), a journalist. But he doesn’t tell her his real job; and she doesn’t tell him her real name. Though Joe quickly figures it out, he maintains the deception as the Princess experiences life as a commoner. Joe’s in pursuit of an exclusive scoop as he records her shopping, sightseeing, and dancing. She even gets her hair cut! But beneath the secrets and the lies, in the 24 hours spent together, Princess Anne and Joe fall in love.
In Trumbo, various actors and actresses read Dalton Trumbo’s letters written over the decades to family, friends and enemies, alike. The letters reveal a man of absolute convictions that you can either love him or hate him for. But, that he was a witty, self-aware, dedicated family man, is undeniable. A big secret gets revealed in this documentary: Dalton Trumbo was a hopeless romantic, completely and utterly devoted to his wife, Cleo.
Trumbo was convicted in 1947 for Contempt of Congress, following his appearance before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee ( HUAC). While his case was going through the appeals process, Trumbo wrote Roman Holiday. Think about that. With a potential jail sentence looming, friends and writing assignments disappearing quicker than the spines of the Hollywood moguls, his name decried in newspapers, Dalton Trumbo sat down and wrote a romantic comedy for the ages!
The inspiration for Roman Holiday started with the headlines of the day, right next to the ones denouncing him, about the young Princess Elizabeth (the pre-coronation future Queen of England). She was in Malta to be near her husband, Prince Philip. Away from the pressures of the royal court, the Princess happily immersed herself in the life of a commoner: shopping, sightseeing, and dancing. The papers reported she even enjoyed the novelty of visiting a local hairdressing salon. Sound familiar?
But, as will happen with writers, something from deep within their hearts always seems to subconsciously end up on the page. And For Trumbo, what ended up on the page was a cinematic love letter to his wife that we all fell in love with.
Joe Bradley is a writer; Trumbo is a writer; Joe is keeping his identity a secret so he can do his job; Trumbo was keeping his identity a secret so that he could do his. In speaking, ostensibly about his small apartment, Joe/Trumbo says: “Well, life isn’t aways what one likes, is it?” Princess Anne/Cleo, replies: “No, it isn’t.” Princess Anne and Joe fall in love within 24 hours. Trumbo proposed to Cleo the moment he saw her.
Proof that kismet exists, the same words can be used to describe both Audrey Hepburn and Cleo Trumbo: ‘petite,’ ‘dark-haired,’ ‘fine boned,’ ‘graceful’ and ‘natural beauty.’ Let it be said, however, that Trumbo bore absolutely no physical resemblance to the tall, dark and handsome Gregory Peck.
From one of his letters written to Cleo from prison, he reminded her of the night she needed a ride and called upon him. Recognizing it as a turning point in the story of his life, he reminiscences about that night when a “… weary, frightened, teary-eyed girl who got into my car was the luckiest night of my life.”
A teary-eyed Princess Anne and Joe have a turning point in their story played out in a car, also. Though for them it’s not the beginning of their time together; but the end. Trumbo rewrote his past to reflect his ominous present. He was acknowledging that there were forces in his own life, as in his characters,’ that were beyond his control and would have to be answered to. For Trumbo, that meant serving 11 months in a federal penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky, becoming prisoner #7551.
But, remember the conclusion of his cinematic love letter? It’s a declaration of Trumbo’s absolute devotion to Cleo. He and Cleo had kept many secrets together; they had remained together in adversity and Trumbo, hopeless romantic that he was, believed they would remain together even when apart. And, he was right! Their marriage remained intact throughout his incarceration and Dalton and Cleo Trumbo remained happily married until the ultimate separation came knocking at his door in 1976.
MOOD FOOD: What food? These are worlds of cigarettes and champagne. Smoking is strongly discouraged, so skip the cigarettes–unless they’re candy cigarettes (and yes, they still do make those). But, like the dialogue itself, floating on champagne is highly recommended. And gelato. By all means gelato.
CLASSIC ATTITUDE: Have convictions. Honor your convictions. Wrap them in a loving embrace and hold them above all else.