Review: Holiday (1938)



George Cukor
Donald Ogden Stewart, Sidney Buchman (Play: Philip Barry)
95 min.
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton, Henry Kolker, Binnie Barnes, Jean Dixon, Henry Daniell
MPAA Rating

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Source Material

My second experience with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant surpasses my first, Bringing Up Baby. In Holiday, Grant plays an idealistic middle class bank worker, Johnny Case, who falls for a young woman while on vacation, but doesn’t realize until he arrives at her spacious mansion that she is a very wealthy woman. He has a plan: save up a little money then retire young, experience the world and then, when he’s run out of money and has an idea of what he wants to do with his life, come back and go to work doing what he wants to do. The problem is that his fiancee doesn’t know about his plan and may not be too keen on its implementation.

Enter her idealistic sister Linda (Hepburn) who falls for Grant’s carefree ideals, but wants to see her sister happy and is certain she would not turn him down for wanting to be himself. And there lies the key to the film. Where one sister wants to live in the lap of luxury, the other, an admitted black sheep, doesn’t care what she does as long as she has fun doing it. While there’s no one who can go into this movie and not know exactly where it’s going, the fun of it is getting there. Hepburn showcases her comedic talent like I haven’t quite seen before. She was solid in Bringing Up Baby, but here, she’s luminescent. Grant delivers the same kind of performance, impressing me with his freewheeling and naturalistic performance.

Both Grant/Hepburn films were released in 1938, making them a fine pair to delight audiences, but while most audiences seem to favor Bringing Up Baby over Holiday, I feel the opposite. While I enjoyed Baby, there’s something about Holiday that’s more humanistic, engaging and entertaining. I was consistently in good humor while watching Holiday and felt myself actively rooting for Grant and Hepburn to get together. The secondary characters are significantly more engaging from Lew Ayres as Ned, Linda’s alcoholic, but sympathetic brother to Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as the loving, down-to-earth couple with whom Johnny lived for a time. These people help elevate the film to a well acted character ensemble instead of just a simple showcase for Grant and Hepburn.
Review Written
October 11, 2010

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