Posted Tue Jul 21, 2020 at 05:00 AM PDT by David Krauss
Roman Holiday, the classic 1953 romantic comedy that won Audrey Hepburn a Best Actress Oscar, has been spectacularly restored and will finally make its Blu-ray debut in a limited collector's edition on September 15 as part of the Paramount Presents line. Directed by two-time Oscar winner William Wyler and co-starring Gregory Peck, this charming Cinderella-in-reverse tale, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, follows the adventures of a rebellious princess who goes undercover as a commoner so she can enjoy the simple pleasures of Rome. Yet little does she know her handsome male tour guide is really a journalist who hopes to get the scoop of the century.
Andrea Kalas, Paramount's Senior Vice President of Archives, and film historian Leonard Maltin shared details about the 4K restoration, which was completed back in 2015, during a recent Zoom press briefing. Because the original nitrate negative of Roman Holiday no longer exists, Paramount used the best existing sources - a 35 mm dupe negative and fine grain print - for this restoration.
Roman Holiday was shot on location in Rome, and problems in the Italian film laboratory during the movie's production reportedly compromised the original film elements. According to Kalas, issues like over-handling of the negative and primitive, careless splicing techniques plagued the film over the years and made its eventual deterioration almost inevitable. The original negative's fragile nature eventually spurred the production of a dupe negative, which had to be blown up a few thousandths of an inch to cover all the splice tape that previously had been applied to the original negative to hold it together.
Thanks to the miracles of digital technology, the film has been meticulously repaired, cleaned, and restored to its original splendor without compromising its artistic integrity. The original mono track also has been restored and appropriately corrected. (Elements to upmix the soundtrack to 5.1 do not exist.) Below are a few capture frames from the film that illustrate the video restoration.
This new Blu-ray edition also marks the first time a home video release of Roman Holiday will feature Dalton Trumbo's screenplay and original story credits on both the film itself and its packaging. Trumbo was blacklisted by the film industry after refusing to comply with demands from the House UnAmerican Activities Committee but continued to surreptitiously work on many productions - without screen credit, of course - for years. Writer Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for Trumbo on Roman Holiday, which won an Oscar for Trumbo's original story. In 1993, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at last presented that Oscar to Trumbo's widow, but it wasn't until 2011 that the Writer's Guild of America restored his name to the film itself. Now those credits will be etched onto home video versions of Roman Holiday forevermore.
The limited-edition Blu-ray release of Roman Holiday will be presented in collectible packaging that includes a fold-out image of the film's re-release theatrical poster and "an interior spread with key movie moments." In addition to previously released featurettes, the Blu-ray will include an all-new "Filmmaker Focus" with Maltin, as well as access to a digital copy of the film.
Video excerpts of the comments made by Maltin and Kalas at the press briefing, including some restoration comparison clips, can be viewed in the video below:
Kalas also confirmed during the press briefing that A Place in the Sun, another Paramount classic that has been long overdue for a Blu-ray release, has received the same type of meticulous restoration as Roman Holiday, and will be released on Blu-ray in the U.S. sometime in the future. The 1951 adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel An American Tragedy won six Oscars, including Best Director for George Stevens, and stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters is also on deck for a future release. Kalas mentioned that producer George Stevens, Jr. was involved in the restoration...more evidence of Paramount's commitment to quality as the studio continues to restore and preserve its catalog of classic films.
Pre-order Your Copy of Roman Holiday HERE
Read the full press release below
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The treasured and enduring classic ROMAN HOLIDAY debuts on Blu-ray for the first time ever as part of the Paramount Presents line on September 15, 2020 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
The exquisite Audrey Hepburn lights up the screen in her first starring role opposite the charismatic Gregory Peck in this funny, beautiful, and intoxicating romantic comedy. Ranked as the #4 greatest love story of all time by the American Film Institute, ROMAN HOLIDAY earned 10 Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, and won Best Actress for Hepburn, Best Costume Design for legendary designer Edith Head, and Best Writing for Dalton Trumbo.
About the Film
Director William Wyler’s 1953 fairy tale was one of Hollywood’s first on-location motion pictures and memorably captures the bustling streets and iconic sites of Rome. ROMAN HOLIDAY expresses the exhilaration of joyously breaking free as the lead character escapes her royal obligations against the backdrop of post-war Europe embracing long-awaited peace.
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee and his name was not included in the film’s original credits. In 1992 the Board of Governors of the Academy voted to finally credit Trumbo for the “Story Writing” Oscar and his widow received a statuette in 1993. In 2011, the WGA restored Trumbo’s name to the screenwriting credits. This is the first physical home entertainment release to correctly credit Dalton Trumbo with both the screenplay and story by credits both on packaging and the film itself.
About the Restoration
The original negative was processed at a local film lab in Rome and was unfortunately badly scratched and damaged. The film had to be pieced back together, but the splices were so weak due to the damage that extensive amounts of tape had to be used to allow the negative to make it through a printing machine. Because of the fragile state of the negative, a Dupe Negative was made and then blown up a few thousandths of an inch to cover all the splice tape that held the original negative together.
In anticipation of this new Blu-ray release, the film was digitally restored using the Dupe Negative and a Fine Grain element to capture the best possible image. Every frame was reviewed, and the film received extensive clean up to remove thousands of scratches, bits of dirt, and other damage. Because audio elements to properly up-mix to 5.1 do not exist, the original mono track was remastered, and minor anomalies were corrected. The result is a film returned to its original vibrancy and beauty that remains true to director William Wyler’s vision.
About the Release
The limited-edition Paramount Presents Blu-ray Disc™ is presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the film’s theatrical re-release poster, and an interior spread with key movie moments. Newly remastered from a 4K film transfer, the ROMAN HOLIDAY Blu-ray also includes a new Filmmaker Focus with film historian Leonard Maltin, access to a Digital copy of the film, as well as previously released featurettes on Academy Award®-winner Audrey Hepburn, Edith Head’s Oscar®-winning* costumes, the blacklisting of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and much more.
- Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Roman Holiday
- Behind the Gates: Costumes
- Rome with a Princess
- Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years
- Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist
- Paramount in the '50s: Remembering Audrey
- Theatrical Trailers
- Four Photo Galleries: Production, The Movie, Publicity, The Premiere
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