Roman Holiday Locations…The Concept

OK, it's another crazy project. I'd like to identify every...and I mean every...location in the movie Roman Holiday.

 

Why?

After two trips to Rome I foolishly thought I'd like to end up with a Google map or Google Earth file that would serve two purposes. One would be the ability to recreate the movie's pictures. That is, I would map the precise spot where you would have to be to take a picture of a friend or partner—or have them take your picture!—appearing exactly like the actors in the movie. In other words, to take your own "Roman Holiday."

The other purpose would be to map the movie's movement through Rome. Having noodled around the city a bit it seemed that, with the exception of a very few brief lacunae, the chronology of Roman Holiday was fairly faithful to Rome's geography. That when the characters walked or rode from location to location, for the most part they followed a sensible path through the city.

Of course I began this project by doing some research online. I assumed most of it would already have been done, and that I'd just have to add a few locations to some already existing list. Hah. Fairly early on in this project I discovered Valerie Schneider's page at Slow Travel. It did by far the best job of detailing locations. But since her page is a walking tour, it doesn't follow the movie's chronology. That seemed reasonable. I hadn't expected the movie to create an efficient path for a walking tour of Rome.

So I bulled ahead, making screen shots of the movie and trying to find their location on maps. At first it seemed I was having some success. The sequence I called Escape moved from the Palazzo Barberini to Piazza Repubblica. I could even recreate a plausible route for the delivery truck to have taken from one to the other. Then the movie stumbled. Where was Irving's poker game? The apartment shown in the movie wasn't, as the movie implies, just off the piazza. Well, I thought, it's a movie. I'll let that one go for now.

But then the movie shows Joe Bradley walking through the Forum, supposedly on his way home. I knew from Valerie's page, and other confirming sources, that Joe lived on via Margutta. Even assuming Joe had been somewhere near Piazza Repubblica, as the movie implies, the Forum would have been a heck of a long detour on the way to via Margutta. I was on a wild goose chase. Even though I was beginning to fill in a chronology of places seen in the movie, many sequences just didn't follow a geographically sensible path. In lieu of a map showing a reasonable path through the city, I decided to settle for satisfying the first original purpose. I should have paid more attention to Ms. Schneider! Live and learn.

 

How?

Even that goal was well beyond my rudimentary knowledge of Rome. So I made this suite of web pages, and called for help. Emails and bulletin board posts brought responses from several people. I've tried to keep track of most of their contributions with notes in the body of this suite of pages. By August of 2008, most of the obvious locations were identified. In August, I received copies of the Daily Operations Reports for Roman Holiday.

Googling around had led me to the web site for the The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They own a complete set of these Reports, which give details about each day's filming. After a few emails back and forth with a very helpful and patient librarian, I got 25 pages of these reports. For some reason, they wouldn't just copy all of them for me. I had to ask for pages individually. The Reports are kind of a mystery. They are set up to track what was done by whom each day, and how many hours it took. The Reports include several important categories of information useful to this project. Location, Cast, and two categories of Extras are listed.

The Reports are explicit in placing shots. They have a category for Luogo (Shooting on) and under that there are three preprinted categories, each with open parentheses for typing in an "x" or other mark, to show that category as chosen: Teatro (Stage) ( ), Terreno (Studio Lot) ( ), and Externo (Location). There are also categories for Descrizione (Description) and LocalitÓ (Location). Between the three types of categories, there's little doubt as to Locations for most day's work.

The mystery comes in when the Location is not identifiable as some particular scene.

For instance, one location is INT. CELLAR STEPS AND DOOR. One might assume that's the delivery van scene, just before Ann stows away (04-08). But really, it might have been some scene that got edited out of the final movie.

The Reports have one category of informtion that would confirm or deny everything we need to know: Script Scenes Shot. The notes in this category are numerical: D-74, C, D, E; D-760, D, E;... If we had the script that was numbered this way and the full set of Reports, we could collate the two sets of information. I was still, as of early November 2008, working on finding such a script.

Then, in the spirit of obsession which has characterized this project, I contacted Roberto Piperno, author of the Rome Art Lovers' web site. As of the middle of November, Mr. Piperno had identified pretty much every one of the outstanding locations. If I had contacted him early on, I could have saved myself a heck of a lot of work. But I might not have learned nearly so much about Rome!

Concept  /  Concept continued  Method  00: Cast   00: Credits  01: Arrival  02: Reception  03: Bedtime  04: Escape  05: City Night / 05: continued  06: Day Begins06: continued  07: Free for a Haircut  /   07: continued  08: Vespa Tour  09: Wild Chase! / 09 continued  10: Wishes  11: The Night  12: The End  
via Margutta 51  The Map  (The Map Key)

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