Roman Holiday appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only a few minor concerns emerged during this solid transfer.
Edge enhancement was the primary problem here. The haloes never became heavy, but I noticed them on occasion, and they created mild distractions that sometimes affected sharpness. While most of the movie appeared crisp and concise, a few wider shots demonstrated light softness. Nonetheless, the image mostly came across as well-defined. No issues with shimmering or jagged edges materialized.
Source flaws were also a minor concern. I noticed marks during the opening “newsreel” but felt those came from the source and weren’t a transfer issue. Otherwise, a few blemishes popped up during the film, but not anything significant. Blacks looked deep and firm, and the movie exhibited good contrast. Low-light shots also appeared clear and smooth. Overall, I felt quite impressed by this satisfying presentation.
While not as impressive, the monaural audio of Roman Holiday seemed perfectly acceptable for a 55-year-old effort. Speech always seemed concise and natural, with no edginess or other distractions. Music lacked much range but came across as clean and acceptably clear. Effects showed decent definition, and the track came essentially free from defects. This was a perfectly solid little mix.
How did the picture and audio of this 2008 “Centennial Collection Edition” compare to those of the 2002 Special Edition? I thought both appeared to be virtually identical. The new version may’ve been marginally brighter, but I got the impression that the two were very close siblings, so I noticed no significant differences between them.
In terms of extras, this “Centennial Collection Edition” mixes new components and elements from the 2002 SE. I’ll note 2008 exclusives with an asterisk. If you fail to see a star, that means the component also appeared on the old disc.
Most of the package’s extras show up on DVD Two. Only a Preview for It’s a Wonderful Life appears on DVD One.
Over on DVD Two, we start off with *Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years. During this 29-minute and 54-second piece, we find notes from film professor Jonathan Kuntz, authors Pamela Keough and Barry Paris, fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, producer AC Lyles, and actors Stefanie Powers and Pat Crowley. As the title implies, the show looks at Hepburn’s stint at Paramount as well as other aspects of her life/career and her impact on films.
While the show’s emphasis on her six flicks at Paramount limits its scope, I kind of like the focus. It makes “Paramount” unusual since it doesn’t really attempt to be a full career examination. Sure, it delivers some quick notes about her life before and after that period, but it mostly sticks with the decade in question. It investigates that era well and becomes an involving piece.
For *Remembering Audrey, we take a 12-minute and 12-second look at the actor. It includes notes from Hepburn’s son Sean Ferrer, her companion Robert Wolders and “Audrey Bags” designer Egidio Fontana. They mostly tell us about Hepburn’s life outside of the movie industry. Much of the content simply lionizes Hepburn and talks about her greatness. Expect little depth in this fluffy piece.
For the eight-minute and 57-second *Rome with a Princess, we take a tour through the Roman locations featured in the film. A narrator provides details about the various spots as we see them portrayed in the flick and in today’s world. This becomes a competent travelogue.
*Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist goes for 11 minutes, 55 seconds and presents remarks from Kuntz, blacklisted actors’ wives Betty Garrett and Jean Porter Dmytryk, novelist/filmmaker Nicholas Meyer, and actors Allan Rich and Marsha Hunt. The program looks at the film’s screenwriter and controversies that affected his career. It’s too brief to provide a great take on a topic as complex about the Hollywood blacklist, but it provides a taut and intriguing piece.
Next comes the six-minute and 50-second Restoring Roman Holiday. It features Paramount Pictures’ Senior VP Operations Phil Murphy, Paramount Pictures Executive Director of Broadcast Services and Film Preservation Barry Allen, Paramount Pictures Head of DVD Mastering Ron Smith, Paramount Pictures Head Film Librarian Steve Elkin, Lowry Digital Images president John Lowry, and LDI project manager Ryan Gomez. The show looks at the work put into the transfer for this DVD. I find this kind of piece to be self-congratulatory, but we do find some decent notes about the challenges presented in the restoration process.
We focus on clothes during Behind the Gates: Costumes. It goes for five minutes, 31 seconds and offers comments from Paramount archivist Randall Thropp as he leads us on a tour of the studio’s costume vaults. None of this has anything to do with Roman Holiday - the closest we come is a look at a Hepburn outfit from Breakfast at Tiffany’s - but it’s cool to see some of the costumes on display.
For the final featurette, we get the nine-minute and 37-second Paramount in the ‘50s. It simply shows us clips from a few of the studio’s biggest flicks during that era. A narrator provides some remarks about the movies as well, but nothing particularly revealing emerges here. Instead, the show feels more like a long ad for the studio.
In addition to three Trailers, we find four Galleries. These cover “Production” (36 images), “The Movie” (43 images), “Publicity” (13 images), and “The Premiere” (8 images). If you’re a fan of still images, you should really enjoy this section, as the images are documenting a classic. While this was a nice addition to the disc, the few images we are given don’t seem to be quite wide-ranging and all-inclusive enough. Even so, it’s a decent effort.
Finally, the set includes a *booklet. The eight-page piece provides some short production notes and a few photos. It’s not memorable but it’s a nice way to finish the set.
Does the 2008 “Centennial Collection” release lose anything from the 2002 Special Edition? Yes – it drops a documentary about the movie. However, because the 2008 version packs so many new featurettes, it more than compensates for that loss.
An enduring romantic comedy, Roman Holiday hold up well after five and a half decades. A lot of the credit goes to its stars, as you’ll not find bigger Hollywood legends than Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The DVD provides very good picture along with satisfactory audio and a collection of decent extras. This is a positive release for an enjoyable film.
For viewers who don’t already own the 2002 release of Roman Holiday, this 2008 “Centennial Collection” version is the one to get. However, I’m not sure it merits a double-dip for fans who bought the prior disc. Sure, it presents a nice array of new extras, but the movie looks and sounds pretty much the same on both discs; you’ll not find any real improvement with the 2008 transfer. Serious fans may want to drop the extra bucks for the new supplements, but others will remain happy with the original release.
To rate this film, visit the Special Collector's Edition review of ROMAN HOLIDAY