Roman Holiday

roman_holiday★★★

Princess Ann desires to be free from the royal treatment. She has grown tired and medically ill of the routine in business affairs. One night, she sneaks away from the palace, jumps into the back of a delivery tricycle and hides there as it drives. Later, medicated by sedatives, she gets off and falls asleep on a bench where a Gentleman comes across her.

Joe (Gregory Peck) is a gambler and a writer, but doesn’t yet realize the identity of the woman he has taken home. It is only in his office, after a discussion with his bossy editor Mr. Hennessy((Hartley Power) that he catches on to the weight of his situation. So he goes back to his apartment, pretends not to know that Ann is the missing princess, and the two of them begin to drive around Italy to her wishes, which includes having a haircut, ice cream, and doing sight-seeing. Accompanying them as a secret photographer is Joes friend Irving (Eddie Albert).

Innocence is evoked through Princess Ann in her adventure. The effect is from the screen presence of Audrey Hepburn who is attractive and all the more in her appearing modest and natural. Joe is a confident, kind man who understands people. The Chemistry between Gregory Peck and Hepburn works to great effect to bringing the film closer to a fairytale. The film, directed by     William Wyler and from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton the film contains romance and affection and is simply appealing.

How to Marry a Millionaire

how_to_marry_a_millionaire★★1/2

It opens like a musical and then into a story. A ridiculous tale about three women (Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe) who dream of marrying rich men. The extent of their plan is to pretend they are rich, single, and living together in a posh apartment. They behave with elegance and glamour to bait business men of status.

Then the ridiculous scheme begins to show progress and soon they have all managed to schedule dates at a dinner of the oil business institute. Betty Grable gets set up with a grumpy married man, Lauren Bacall with an gentleman widower, and Marilyn Monroe sits with an eye patched millionaire who likes to brag about his money. The dynamic of their relationships provide some humor and irony. And the women are funny when trying to be affectionate to these men with whom they are bored with, when money isn’t being mentioned.

The performances by Grable and Monroe are quite good. And Bacall controls a mean spirited persona within her character as the group’s leader. Directed by Jean Negulesco, and with a screenplay by Nunnally Johnson, How to Marry a Millionaire may not exactly be laugh out loud comedy, but it has entertaining performances worth receiving notice.

Tokyo Story

Tokyo_Story_poster★★★

Shūkichi and Tomi are an elderly couple who are in good spirits and have a reserved cheerfulness.  They are getting ready to visit their grown up children in Tokyo. The temperature is hot and the mood is natural. They travel by train, the family reunites, and all seems well.

Their behaviors are delicate and there is a certain quietude. Neither the son nor daughter are able to free time to spend with their parents. The son (So Yamamura) is a pediatrician and the daughter (Haruko Sugimura) is a hairstylist. At one time, the daughter drops them off at a spa hoping that the parents would stay there for the day, only to find them returning early.  There is however a widowed daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara), once married to their other son. She seems to show more interest in Shūkichi and Tomi.

Nothing seems to happen. But the calm and simple surface belies the enclosed feelings of the characters. There are unresolved issues in the family. Things have not been forgotten. For example it is revealed that the father was an alcoholic. And when he visits a bar with an old friend, it is realized that he can still revert back to his old ways.

There is a conversation that is filled with repentance. Shūkichi’s dissatisfaction with his children is touched upon but also a disappointment with the younger generation. And yet the father admits that one must not expect too much from one’s own children. He contains regret.

Shūkichi and Tomi reminiscence about the old Tokyo. They remember it, miss the familiarity, and have a longing for a place that once felt like home. In their discussions, they speak with long pauses and a sense of fleeting time is evoked.

Much of the film directed by Yasujirō Ozu is shown in enclosed spaces. The elderly couple are effectively performed by Chishū Ryū and Chieko Higashiyama. There are melancholy moments particularly towards the end. But the film takes a modest approach in studying interactions. Occasionally characters seem to speak directly to us as they face into the camera. But they are being direct to one another as they slowly share their true feelings towards one another.