Roman Holiday Locations…The "Locations"

A Bit of Confusion Arises From the Use of the Word "Location"

There are at least three ways the word may be used.

First, there's the obvious where in Rome did this supposedly take place? For my purpose of recreating the scenes, there's the question of where was the camera, and what direction was it facing? Then, there's the (to me) less obvious where was it filmed?

Knowing nothing, really, about making movies, when I began this project I wasn't considering the director's art of cutting in film to suggest that two shots filmed in different places are the same place. Nor was I thinking about studio locations. I'm not sure when I first began to think about these possibilities. It soon became clear that I needed to distinguish between where the acting took place and where it was supposedly set in the story of the movie.

Perhaps the best example of this is the use of two palazzi for Princess Ann's Embassy home. Why exactly this was done I haven't a clue. Perhaps the director liked the gates at Palazzo Barberini but preferred the look of Palazzo Brancaccio's interior. Or found some incovenience inside the former. I assume we'll never know. But if you want to go to Rome and see "Princess Ann's Embassy," you'll have to go to two places.

Before I received the Reports, I had satisfied myself that the interior of the apartment ostensibly in via Margutta 51 was really a stage set. I've left the relevant web page as I had it in the spring of 2008, just to show everyone how I puzzled it out. With the Reports in hand, that deduction was quickly confirmed. And I saw there was more studio work than I'd thought. Although perhaps not as much as one more familiar with making movies might expect.

So, every scene has two "locations" noted. The first is the Movie Location, that is, where the scene is supposed to be, according to the movie. Then a Filming Location is noted. In many cases, the two are the same. That's what we like! I've also noted the camera angle, and, just for fun, often include a note on what the scene shows. Locations positively identified have their names in bold.


Movie Location: Piazza Republica

Filming Location: via Ruggero Fauro 22

View to: East

Object or Scene: Street, facades

For an explanation of the scene numbering scheme, see the next page.

It's interesting to note that, as far as I can tell, no studio shots are divorced from some city location. For instance, G. Rocca's caffè is a studio location. But the movie is at pains to locate it beside the Pantheon.

As another instance, although I have no Report saying so, I'm assuming the American New Service office was a studio location. Yet the director and set designers were still careful to suggest a city location opposite the Piazza Colonna. There was no need for that suggestion. No one watching the movie would care about exactly where in Rome Joe's office supposedly was. Yet it was given a movie location, with both a shot out the window, and scenery in the window, that match what one would see from a certain place. Was it a coincidence that the movie location had two such a recognizeable landmarks as the fountain and column?

I don't know if this principle was deliberate. It almost seems so, especially if my suspicions about Irving's studio (05-03) are correct.

The Report for 3 February, 1953 is the chronologically last one I have. Instead of listing script scenes, it lists "Slate Numbers." It looks like a different person typed it. The word "Location" is typed out for the Location, instead of being an "X" like all the others I have. I suspect the little scene of crossing the street and the camera panning up to a balcony was added very late in the schedule, unrelated to any script pages, because Irving's studio was the only "location" shown in the movie that was not tied to some actual city location. Someone noticed that, and the director decided to take a Photographic Double out somewhere and fix the omission. At least, I'd like to imagine that's what happened. I suppose we'll never know.


Scenic Locations Made Dead Obvious

As mentioned above, I'm a bit of a naif when it comes to movies. If I'm enjoying it, I'll cut a movie all the slack it wants. Very probably you more sophisticated viewers noticed the almost childlike setting up of a few of the scenic scenes before I did. It took me a few viewings before the, I suppose, rather clichéd scene setting shots of the Piazza Repubblica, Forum, Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps and a few others stood out for the travelogueish cinematography they are.

Sources differ on why the movie was made in Rome. Perhaps all the reasons cited were real considerations all adding up to one conclusion. Perhaps once in Rome, William Wyler and his crew decided to milk the exotic location for all it was worth. But, because of the pains they all took to locate each "location," I like to think they kind of fell in love with Rome the way Loie and I have.

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)