Go to contents

[Opinion] Roman Holiday for the Late Gregory Peck

Posted June. 13, 2003 22:02,   


It seems as if no woman eats ice cream as lovely as Audrey Hepburn. In ‘Roman Holiday`, Audrey Hapburn created an indelible image as a lovely and innocent young woman. Yet, Gregory Peck, her counterpart in the movie, was as charming as Hepburn. Peck played a newspaperman who luckily encounters the princess, who escapes from her royal entourage. At first, he willingly becomes a guide for the lost princess to write a headline story, but gives up the scheme later after he falls in love with Hepburn. He was a real gentleman.

Peck drives an Italian-made scooter with the princess on the backseat. When the princess sheds a tear saying, “I don`t know how to say goodbye,” he replies kindly, “You don`t have to.” In the memorable last scene, he looks at the princess at a press conference, with his eyes all showing love, understanding, compassion and sadness. In Britain, it was said at that time that Audrey Hepburn reminded them of the free-spirited Princess Margaret and Gregory Peck of a man named Peter Townsend whom the real-life princess fell in love with. Gregory Peck`s second wife Veronique Fasani was a reporter who interviewed him as in the movie. She later said that she forgot to interview other actors due to her first date with the good-looking actor. The episode also reminds people of the movie, in which Peck gave up the big story for love.

If his favorite role was the newspaper reporter in `Roman Holiday`, the best role he ever played was a father and lawyer in `To Kill a Mockingbird`. In the movie, he played widowed lawyer Atticus Finch, who defends a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. The character is still remembered as the most heroic man ever created in the movie. The famous line from the movie - “Every man is born equal before the eyes of the courts.” – was often quoted during the 1960s civil movement and is still used by human rights activists today. He represented integrity, compassion, honesty, honor, intelligence and moral belief, values upheld by Americans in real life. This is why Peck is called `the last true nobleman in Hollywood` instead of merely a good actor.

His on-screen image as a dignified man fighting for justice was also reflected in his off-screen life. Since he had “feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity,” he joined anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and championed liberal causes. Yet, Peck used to say that the foremost obligation of an actor was entertain the audience, stressing professionalism. He was a true symbol of a gentleman in post-war America. With the dignified gentleman now spending his holiday in heaven, who will bring joy for our holidays on earth?