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In this classic movie, Audrey Hepburn is a princess (of a country which is never named), who comes to Rome on official business.  Despairing of her pampered lifestyle and lack of freedom, she escapes from her country’s embassy, deciding to explore Rome by herself.

She soon meets up with cynical journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who initially thinks she is drunk, but soon realises her true identity, and sees the opportunity for a great story.  Princess Anne does not realise that Bradley is a journalist, and he doesn’t reveal that he knows who she is.  Instead, he takes her to see many of the sights of Rome, and gradually their feelings for each other develop.  But Anne has duties to her country and knows that her pretend life as an ordinary citizen cannot last….

I watched this film for the first time, the night that I got back from a mini break in Rome, and I adored the movie.  Black and white films are not something I would normally choose to watch, but this was a true classic – amusing, incredibly charming and romantic.  Much like the two leads.  Peck and Hepburn on screen are like genetic perfection, and both of them are perfect in their respective roles.  (It was in fact Audrey Hepburn’s debut film, and she won as Oscar for her part.)  Peck is gorgeous, but he is world weary and while he is a decent and kind man, his only care initially is for writing an exclusive scoop on the princess – but his feelings change as he comes to know her.  Hepburn meanwhile is cute, innocent in a child like way and very funny, capturing the vulnerability and loneliness of the princess in her ivory tower, and infusing her character with a great deal of fun on her ‘day off’.  I defy anyone to watch this movie and not fall a little bit in love with her.  The setting of Rome is of course beautiful and lends the perfect backdrop to this romantic comedy.

Some movies become classics for a reason – this is one of them.  I only wish I had watched it a long time ago, but it has instantly become a favourite film for me, and one that I will watch again and again.

Year of release: 1953

Director: William Wyler

Writers: Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo

Main cast: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert

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The beautiful gothic fairytale is one of my very favourite movies.

I am a big fan of Johnny Depp anyway – I think he is one of the most talented and versatile actors around today – and this is surely one of his greatest roles. He plays the title character, a man who was ‘created’ by an inventor (Vincent Price), but the inventor died before finishing off Edward by giving his ‘proper’ hands, rather than the scissors that were obviously a temporary measure. Stuck in the beautiful old castle where the inventor lived, Edward has never interacted with any other people before, but then a kindly Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) calls there and ends up taking him to live with her and her family.  And so ensues several hilarious but touching scenes (Edward valiantly battling with a pea on a plate, Edward waking up in shock and stabbing the waterbed, Edward’s first taste of alcohol). For a while, Edward is loved by all his new neighbours, except for one – everybody wants a piece of Edward, and he starts doing topiary, hairdressing and dog grooming for his all his new ‘friends’.  He also falls in love with Kim – the daughter of his new ‘family’, but who doesn’t warm to Edward like everyone else.  Kim’s boyfriend is also not happy about him, although he is quick to attempt to use Edward to his own advantage.

It doesn’t take long before things go wrong and pettiness and small mindedness sets in.  Edward, so innocent and eager to help, inadvertently ends up in a few situations where things go wrong and he gets the blame, and is hounded out of the neighbourhood.

Johnny Depp deserved an Oscar award for this.  Although he has few lines (less than 100 apparently, although I didn’t count), he portrays beautifully the innocence and wonder that Edward feels, and gives the character a lovable, childlike quality.  The viewer feels all of Edward’s emotions with him – fear, awe, anger, sadness – and this is largely due to Johnny Depp’s portrayal.

The other actors are fine; Winona Ryder does a great job as Kim, and Dianne West is great as Kim’s mother, but this is really Depp’s movie.  It’s no wonder that he and Tim Burton are such good friends, and have made so many movies together when they can come up with magic like this.

I laughed and cried in equal measure in this movie and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Year of release: 1990

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson

Main cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall

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