- Grant and Hepburn Make the Magic 4/29/2001 12:00:00 AM by jhclues
Today, the world around us may be changing by leaps and bounds, but as this film so aptly illustrates, this is nothing new; the world has always been, and always will be, in a constant state of flux, from one generation to the next. In `Holiday,' a delightful romantic comedy directed by George Cukor, a young man of thirty has some decisions to make about his life and love that are going to determine the course of his life. After a whirlwind, ten day romance with Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), a girl he's just met, Johnny Case (Cary Grant) asks her to marry him; and she accepts. But the story really begins when he shows up at her house to meet her widowed father, Edward (Henry Kolker), to ask for Julia's hand in marriage.
This is not an early version of `Meet the Parents,' however; Johnny's a regular guy with a good job at an investment firm, and he's in love. All is going well; he's about to meet the family of the woman he loves, and he's made a decision about his life. And when he arrives at Julia's house, he makes some startling discoveries: First, she's filthy rich-- her house is so big he calls it a museum-- and she has a beautiful, spirited sister named Linda (Katharine Hepburn). But soon he'll be married to Julia, and if all goes right with a deal he's been working on for the firm, he'll also be able to follow through on his decision. If the deal at work goes through, it'll put some change in his pockets, which is all he wants; but not because it'll put him on the fast track to getting ahead with the company. He wants to make enough to get married and quit his job, so he can take a `holiday' while he's still young enough to enjoy it-- even if it only turns out to be three months or so-- and have some time to discover just where he fits into a world that's rapidly changing. Now all he has to do is explain it all to Julia. And to her father. And all while trying to deny the fact that he's attracted to Linda.
Cukor takes a lighthearted approach to this story, which keeps it upbeat and entertaining, and he laces it with warmth and humor that'll give you some laughs and put a smile on your face. But beyond all that, Cukor shows some real insight into human nature and the ways of the world. And it makes this film timeless. Consider Johnny's comments about how the world is changing, and wanting to find out for himself where he fits in; or the comment by one of Julia's cousins, Seton Cram (Henry Daniell)-- who is already wealthy, apparently, beyond all comprehension-- that there would be a lot of money to be made if only `The right government was in place.' To make this film today, you'd only have to change the dates on the calendar, shoot in color, substitute Norton for Grant, Danes for Hepburn and bring in Nora Ephron to direct.
But what really makes this one special are the performances of Grant and Hepburn. Grant is as charming as ever, but just a bit looser and slightly less debonair than he is in most of his later roles. And it becomes him; he endows Johnny with youthful exuberance, good looks and personality, as well as a carefree yet responsible attitude that makes him someone you can't help but like. And Hepburn fairly sparkles as Linda, a role she was born to play; this young woman filled with a zest for life and an indomitable spirit. She imbues Linda with that same, trademark Hepburn feistiness you'll find in so many of her characters in films like `The Philadelphia Story,' `Adam's Rib' and `The African Queen.' All of whom she plays with a variation that makes each of them unique. And it's that personal spark of life that she's able to transfer to her characters that makes Hepburn so special. Whether she's locking horns with Tracy, pouring Bogart's gin into the river or falling in live with Grant, nobody does it quite like Kate. And Cukor had an affinity for Hepburn that enabled him to bring out the best in her, always. Arguably, her best work was with Cukor.
The memorable supporting cast includes Lew Ayres (Ned), Edward Everett Horton (Nick), Binnie Barnes (Laura), Jean Dixon (Susan) and Mitchell Harris (Jennings). A thoroughly enjoyable film, `Holiday' makes a subtle statement about embracing the time you have and grabbing for the brass ring while you're still able; that in the end, life is what you make of it. But Cukor never lets it get too serious, and never lets you forget that the main thing here is to have some fun, beginning with this movie. And by the time it's over, the world seems just a little bit brighter somehow. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 8/10.
- Now THIS is romance 8/10/2005 12:00:00 AM by FilmOtaku
Now THIS is romance Back in the mid-late 1930's, when Katherine Hepburn, though she had already won an Oscar, was labeled (along with several other actresses) "box office poison", it was Hollywood that suffered. Unfortunately, after the Production Code blasted out full throttle, strong roles for women disappeared because women no longer had a strong voice in cinema, so a lot of the heavier-hitters (Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Miriam Hopkins) ended up foundering in what they were given. In the case of George Cukor's 1938 film "Holiday", she had a couple of friends involved with the picture who insisted that she be used (she had been the understudy of her film counterpart on the stage) which turned out to be an excellent plan since she is one of the many great things about this film.
Set in New York, "Holiday" stars Carey Grant as Johnny Case, a fledgling businessman who is more concerned about making a career out of something he wants to do, and not what he should do in order to make a lot of money. He has a plan; he has been working hard at a job that he doesn't particularly like to save enough money to take an indeterminate time off to figure out what he wants to do with himself. While he takes a holiday, he meets Julia Seton (Nolan), the two fall in love and go back to New York to tell Julia's father. What Johnny doesn't know is that Julia comes from an extremely wealthy family, and while he is shocked and bemused by this fact, he finds himself taken with the other members of Julia's family; Linda Seton (Hepburn), Julia's free-thinking and dramatic sister, and brother Ned Seton (Ayres) a kind but dour alcoholic. Both siblings are discontented with being under their father's thumb (while he is not a bad person, Edward Seton has strong feelings about how things should be handled) and both take an instant liking to Johnny, particularly Linda who finds herself falling in love with him. As plans for the marriage begin to solidify, it becomes clear that Johnny is being forced to quash his dreams, not only to gain the approval of their father, but because Julia thinks it is the way to go as well.
Having never even heard of this film, I wasn't sure what to expect out of "Holiday"; I figured it might either be a screwball comedy (based on the Hepburn/Grant collaboration in "Bringing up Baby") or maybe a regular romantic comedy. What I got was actually a romantic dramedy that was not only charming but heartfelt as well. George Cukor's direction (as usual) is wonderful and the chemistry between Hepburn and Grant is simply electric. Hepburn, clearly the star of this production, acts each scene with an emotion and charm that is almost unheard of in the mainstream cinema of the present. While I watched the film, I found myself becoming so endeared to her character that I probably would have been completely devastated if she didn't get some sort of happiness in the end, probably one of the highest compliments that I can give to an actor's performance since I mainly pay attention to the story and the film itself primarily and the characters are important, but seem to be secondary. Grant, who is probably most famous for being debonair and dashing, often played the goofball in his films of the 30's and early 40's, and this was another one of those roles for him. He is such a fresh and passionate character however, (he often finds himself doing various acrobatic stunts with glee) that he quickly proves himself to be more than just the handsome doofus who makes bug eyes at the camera when he's confused. He and Hepburn actually look like they're having a good time together in this film; a wonderful thing to see when it seems that 90% of collaborations look like they are phoned in nowadays. If Doris Nolan isn't unremarkable and bland all the time, she did a really great job in her role as fiancée Julia ? at some point you're really wondering what Johnny ever really saw in her and made him declare his bachelorhood over with at the age of 30. Lew Ayres, a name I had heard before, but didn't recognize by face was also very charming as the alcoholic brother. I found his character to be incredibly endearing, especially as the film progressed. A mention also has to be made of the actors who played Johnny's best friends, the Potters. (Edward Everett Horton & Jean Dixon) Anyone would be hard pressed to dislike these two intellectuals with senses of humor that are more arid than the Mojave. Every scene they were in became even more enjoyable.
What stuck with me is that between the script and the actors, I felt like I was actually watching a real slice of life, kind of like Booth Tarkington without the depression. "Holiday" is a fantastic hidden gem in the classic film catalogue and I would recommend it very highly. Not only is it short in length, but also its engaging story, steady pacing and brilliant actors made me wish it were longer. Watch this wonderful movie if you have any ounce of appreciation for classic film. 8/10 --Shelly
- Delightful 10/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by aeh16
This is such a sweet, funny, heartfelt movie. The first time I saw it, I immediately wanted to see it again. Like so many of Katharine Hepburn's movies, it's about the kind of love you don't often see in movies. Hers is a pure, sweet, and intelligent love, one which we see develop and with which, by the end of the movie, we wholeheartedly agree. Cary Grant is just delightful in his acrobatics and his naivete, and Hepburn has all of her idealism and wisdom, and proves once again that the two aren't mutually exclusive. If you love witty and intelligent romantic comedy, then this is for you. Not as wonderful as The Philadelphia Story, but great nonetheless.
- a wonderful, enchanting film 1/30/2005 12:00:00 AM by surrealistgirl_x
This movie is one of my all time Hepburn and Grant favorites. It is truly a classic -- directed by George Cukor and written by Broadway playwright Philip Barry.
What really sets the film apart for me, as a comedy, is that the main characters are fully realized and complex. Cary Grant is Johnny, engaged to Hepburn's shallow, but socially acceptable sister. Hepburn's Linda is the black sheep of a vary ambitious, conceited family. It is her very humanity that makes her the "black sheep". She spends half of the movie in love with Johnny, but her respect for her sister and decency thwart her desires. Johnny wants to make his fortune as a young man, retire, and enjoy life. His fiancée attempts to control and manipulate him for her own ends and ambitions.
Edward Everett Horton is marvelous as one of Johnny's best friends. It is a warm and deep friendship.
As Johnny approaches the business deal that could leave him set for life, and marriage to a controlling woman conflict ensues.
I love the scene in the children's playroom -- it is witty and melancholy at the same time. There is a wonderful balance of drama, comedy, and heart in this movie. Don't miss it!
- So Right for Phillip Barry Roles 2/6/2006 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing
Katharine Hepburn brought three Phillip Barry characters to life on the screen in Without Love, The Philadelphia Story and first and foremost Holiday. Her upper class upbringing in Connecticut made her the perfect actress for his plays about the fabulously wealthy which Depression Era USA just ate up.
Holiday of necessity had to be updated. It debuted on Broadway in the boom year of 1928 so some lines to acknowledge the Great Depression had to be included. When Henry Daniell says his obscene market profits would be better with the right kind of government, he's taking dead aim at the New Deal, in particularly the newly formed Security Exchange Commission.
One guy who wants out of the money making rat race is Cary Grant as Johnny Case. He's a poor kid who's worked his way up, probably the same as the founder of the Seton fortune did back in the day. But he's decided there's more to life than just making money. Like Grandpa Vanderhof in You Can't Take It With You or Charles Foster Kane who admittedly inherited his. Henry Kolker as Edward Seton and George Coulouris as Thatcher think exactly alike.
Case has a vision of his life and wants to share it with his fiancé Doris Nolan. But he's picked the wrong sister, it's younger sister Katharine Hepburn of the Seton girls who's his soul mate.
As one who's now retired and admittedly not living in the style of the Setons I can empathize with Cary Grant. As long as you have enough to live on and you have interests to occupy yourself and you don't have a family to support, why work? In fact make room for the next generation who might have a family to support.
In that sense Holiday has a message that applies more for today than it did in 1938. Make what you can, take care of those who depend on you, but get out and enjoy life.
And enjoy Holiday.