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4.3 out of 5 stars30
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2003
Like all the best comedy, the full effect of 'Holiday' arises out of the fact that it juxtoposes humour with real and unpaletable truths. Grant and Hepburn as Johnny and Linda - he the idealistic poor-boy-come-good and she the unmaterialistic black sheep of a wealthy family - battle against a fickle world concerned with material wealth and living out the WASP dream.
Edward Everett Horton as Linda's traditionalist father Mr Seaton and Doris Nolan as Linda's conventional sister Julia - initially Johnny's fiancee - provide the obstacles in the path of the the pair's voyage of self discovery. Brutally broken by the phony world he lives in but eager to aid Johnny and Linda's escape is Linda's dipsomaniac brother Ned (Lew Ayers), proving that theory that many a profound truth was spoken by a drunk. Rounding off a great ensemble cast are Johnny's friends Nick and Susan, who provide a Greek chorus for the battleground of idealism vs convention.
'Holiday' provides a cutting satire of the wealth culture that is as pertinent today as it was sixty years ago and the poignancy of Linda and Ned's oppression offset by her fiesty optimism provides more than enough emotional drive to power the film. Then of course there's the comedy: fast-cracking one-liners, great physical gags, a marvellous array of facial expressions and several acrobatic and musical feats provide something for all tastes, held together by an intelligent script. Hepburn as usual shines with enthusiam and sly wit, Grant is at his most animated, bemused and naive, and Lew Ayers puts in a wonderful performance.
How anyone can say that 'old' films are no longer appealing or relevant to a modern audience is baffling in the face of an offering like 'Holiday.' Upon first viewing it immediately became one of my top 3 films of all time. Having seen it however it becomes obvious why Hepburn was at the time branded 'box-office poison' - no society is tolerant of such a sharp and witty critique of its values as the film provides. Time may have made us more appreciative of 'Holiday's' greatness, but don't fool yourself that this critique doesn't apply to you to!
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Katharine Hepburn made three films in a row with Cary Grant when she brought her career back after being branded "Box Office Poison." The pair had first made "Sylvia Scarlett" together in 1936, the infamous film where Hepburn's character pretended to be a boy. In 1938 they made the classic screwball comedy "Bringing Up Baby" with director Howard Hawks and in 1940 Hepburn returned to stardom and Jimmy Stewart won an Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story." The latter had been a play specifically written for Hepburn by Philip Barry. In between these two classic films, Hepburn and Grant did "Holiday," another film based on a Barry play. Hepburn had been the understudy for Hope Williams in the original 1928 Broadway production and it was the way she picked up a glass in her screen test of a scene from the play that inspired director George Cukor to cast the young actress in her debut film "A Bill of Divorcement." Now, five years later, he would direct her in the second movie version.
The story begins with us meeting Johnny Case (Grant), an engaging young man with some interesting ideas about life. At Lake Placid he met Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), fell in love, and proposed to her. Coming to New York City to meet her family, he arrives at a mansion and is shocked to learn that his beloved is one of THE Setons. Julia's father (Henry Kolker) is not sure what to think of his daughter's intended, but Julia's rather unconventional sister, Linda (Hepburn) thinks Johnny is wonderful. The problem is that Johnny's big plan is to make his fortune when he is young and then retire (i.e., go on a "holiday"), returning to work again when he gets older, which is heresy to old man Seton. He and Julia will try to teach Johnny the error of his ways, while Linda offers her support. Helping to balance the odds for Johnny are his friends, Nick (Edward Everett Horton) and Susan Potter (Jean Dixon), the chief members of his fan club. Linda tries to keep Johnny and Julia together, but it seems she is the only one in the Seton household who appreciates Johnny on his own terms.
"Holiday" had been filmed in 1930 by Edward H. Griffith with Ann Harding as Linda, Mary Astor as Julia, and Robert Ames as Johnny. Edward Everett Horton played Nick Potter in that version as well, although his wife was played by Hedda Hopper. The screenplay for the 1938 version was done by Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman, and it was primarily Stewart who punched up the script version of Barry's revolt against the stuffed-shirts of the world with smart and literate dialogue (Stewart had played the Nick Potter role on Broadway). The result was that the production ended up with some nice ensemble work. Hepburn was under contract to RKO at the time, but bought herself out of her contract to do this film with Cukor at Columbia. Her performance was arguably the most simple and straightforward of any she had done in films up to that point, with all of the pretense and mannerisms stripped away, and the scene where she compares her angular face, with those famous cheekbones, to that of a toy giraffe, is one of the most endearing shots in her film career. Granted, "Holiday" is not going to end up on the AFI's list of Top 100 Films like "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Philadelphia Story," but it is still an enjoyable, solid little filme in which the two stars actually get to do some acrobatics.
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on 12 May 2008
This is one of the best teamings of grant and hepburn. I won't tell you what is going to happen but the build up to the inevitable is brillaintly acted and paced. It's a gentler and more well observed than the screwball antics of 'bringing up baby' and much more in the style of 'the philadelphia story'. I'm not saying it's predictable in any way. It's one of those situations where you want the ending you get and can't wait for it to happen.
I love the pairing of grant and hepburn as much as grant and irene dunne, check out 'the awful truth' and 'my favourite wife' if you want to see a woman get the better of grant! Grant and hepburn as a team are superlative and I prefer them to hepburn and spencer tracy.
The observations on money and success are still relevant to today and we should all take heart from this.
I love this film and it it is definitely in my top ten. I cannot recommend it enough.
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Katharine Hepburn made three films in a row with Cary Grant when she brought her career back after being branded "Box Office Poison." The pair had first made "Sylvia Scarlett" together in 1936, the infamous film where Hepburn's character pretended to be a boy. In 1938 they made the classic screwball comedy "Bringing Up Baby" with director Howard Hawks and in 1940 Hepburn returned to stardom and Jimmy Stewart won an Oscar for "The Philadelphia Story." The latter had been a play specifically written for Hepburn by Philip Barry. In between these two classic films, Hepburn and Grant did "Holiday," another film based on a Barry play. Hepburn had been the understudy for Hope Williams in the original 1928 Broadway production and it was the way she picked up a glass in her screen test of a scene from the play that inspired director George Cukor to cast the young actress in her debut film "A Bill of Divorcement." Now, five years later, he would direct her in the second movie version.
The story begins with us meeting Johnny Case (Grant), an engaging young man with some interesting ideas about life. At Lake Placid he met Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), fell in love, and proposed to her. Coming to New York City to meet her family, he arrives at a mansion and is shocked to learn that his beloved is one of THE Setons. Julia's father (Henry Kolker) is not sure what to think of his daughter's intended, but Julia's rather unconventional sister, Linda (Hepburn) thinks Johnny is wonderful. The problem is that Johnny's big plan is to make his fortune when he is young and then retire (i.e., go on a "holiday"), returning to work again when he gets older, which is heresy to old man Seton. He and Julia will try to teach Johnny the error of his ways, while Linda offers her support. Helping to balance the odds for Johnny are his friends, Nick (Edward Everett Horton) and Susan Potter (Jean Dixon), the chief members of his fan club. Linda tries to keep Johnny and Julia together, but it seems she is the only one in the Seton household who appreciates Johnny on his own terms.
"Holiday" had been filmed in 1930 by Edward H. Griffith with Ann Harding as Linda, Mary Astor as Julia, and Robert Ames as Johnny. Edward Everett Horton played Nick Potter in that version as well, although his wife was played by Hedda Hopper. The screenplay for the 1938 version was done by Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman, and it was primarily Stewart who punched up the script version of Barry's revolt against the stuffed-shirts of the world with smart and literate dialogue (Stewart had played the Nick Potter role on Broadway). The result was that the production ended up with some nice ensemble work. Hepburn was under contract to RKO at the time, but bought herself out of her contract to do this film with Cukor at Columbia. Her performance was arguably the most simple and straightforward of any she had done in films up to that point, with all of the pretense and mannerisms stripped away, and the scene where she compares her angular face, with those famous cheekbones, to that of a toy giraffe, is one of the most endearing shots in her film career. Granted, "Holiday" is not going to end up on the AFI's list of Top 100 Films like "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Philadelphia Story," but it is still an enjoyable, solid little filme in which the two stars actually get to do some acrobatics.
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2007
"Holiday" was directed by George Cukor in 1938 and is another excellent example of the sophisticated comedies that made him famous. Cukor made Katherine Hepburn a star directing her in several quality films from the period which include Little Women(1933); Sylvia Scarlett (1935); The Philadelphia Story (1940); Keeper of the Flame (1942); Adam's Rib (1949) so much so that Cukor became known as a womens director having also produced fine work with Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich and later with Judy Holiday and Audrey Hepburn.

"Holiday" was adapted by Sidney Buchman (Mr Smith goes to Washington,1939) and Donald Stewart (Dinner at Eight,1933) from the Broadway play by Philip Barry and is about the quality of life one chooses for oneself free of the expectations of others. The character of Linda Seton was apparently based on Gertrude Legendre who once said "I don't contemplate life, I live it" and that seems to be the crux of this film: Getting out there and finding out who you are and want you want before it's too late and not being weighed down by the accumulation of material possessions. Cary Grant stars opposite Hepburn in one a several teamings but really it is Katherine Hepburn who's star shines the brightest here.

Cinematography was by Franz Planer (Roman Holiday, 1953; Criss Cross, 1948; Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1948; Champion, 1949; Breakfast at Tiffiny's,1961)
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2003
Again cast opposite Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn is the rich, rebellious free-spirited daughter of the House that effortlessly seduces her sister's fiancée away with the cumplicity of her good for nothing but likeable brother played here to perfection by Lew Ayres as the stereotype of the spoilt playboy. An additional cast of anchor characters for Cary's character - as well as the household servants at Kate's mansion plus her indomitable father - leave little room for breathing in this fast-paced comedy!
The DVD features aren't really much to write home about - but hey!, this is a well-preserved classic that will charm many generations to come. At least it's subtitled in all the major european languages.
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on 5 February 2008
This film is far from perfect but it is the best Grant, Hepburn colaboration of there careeers. It beats sylvia Saint, Philadelphia story and even in my opinion, Bringing up baby. It doesn't have the same production values nor even the plot as those films but it simply works as the perfect romantic comedy. It's also the only film i can think of where Grant displays his expertise as an acrobat and it's the only film where i actually sympathised with Katherine Hepburns character (i usually find her quite irritating)

The story is very simple. Boy meets girl. Boy meets family of girl. Girls sister falls for Grant. Girl turns out to be wrong for him. Sister turns out to be right for him. Simplistic but believable and rewarding.

It's warm, genuine and entertaining....prabably my favourite Grant film
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on 3 February 2008
Although this is set at Christmas, don't think it's the usual touchy-feely festive nonsense; it isn't.

This is refreshingly feisty with Hepburn in particular on fine form and getting her teeth into a character that you don't usually find in films like this. Interestingly, this film was made during the period when Hepburn was deemed to be "box office poison". It's funny how her character is appealing to our 21st century eyes as it's not run of the mill and she plays it with a lot of charm and gusto.

Grant is good here, although clearly hasn't settled into his peerless screen persona that served him so well in later films (North by Northwest, Charade, Walk Don't Run).

Supporting characters are also a cut above the average.

If you're looking for something that's not sentimental drivel a fiver spent on Holiday is a fiver well spent.
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on 22 November 2007
i don't love this film as much as bringing up baby but the two of them teamed up together makes me laugh regardless and that is the main thing!cary gant is one of my favourite classic actors and the quick wit yo yo-ed backwards and forwards between the two is enough for me anyday.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 November 2015
As film critic supreme David Thomson has pointed out, Cary Grant was always a more inspiring co-star for Katharine Hepburn than Spencer Tracy was. They'd made the classic Bringing Up Baby, went on to star in the immortal The Philadelphia Story (as Thomson says: 'the wrong man got the Oscar') but between these now famous films was this neglected masterpiece of thirties cinema directed by George Cukor, with Hepburn, Grant, Doris Nolan, Lew Ayres, Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon giving performances most of them never bettered.
On a vacation, Grant has fallen for Nolan, a brisk, severely pretty and, as it turns out, wealthy young lady, who has an idealistic sister (Hepburn) and a seemingly weak, alcoholic brother, played brilliantly and touchingly by Ayres. Grant's friends are the merry, cheerfully zany couple played perfectly by Horton & Dixon, who act as a kind of Greek Chorus throughout.
Grant and Nolan are planning their wedding, with the help and hindrance of her materialistic, tetchy, very rich father (Henry Kolker, excellent) but Grant (who had rarely been so engaging - or so acrobatic!) wants to test himself with an extended work-free holiday before putting down any roots, which alarms both his fiancee and her father.
Meanwhile Katy Hepburn (who's both delightful and lovely) spends more and more time in the games room on one of the many floors of their opulent town mansion, where most who enter seem to become children again, or at least get to express their innocence and sense of fun.
Unlike the two films that bookended this one, it's not really a screwball comedy, though there are elements of both. There's something more serious going on, a questioning of the whole American Dream, or at least some of its chief Dreamers. It's also very droll at times, as well as oddly moving.
Holiday is a film I could watch again and again - and indeed do. It's one of those near-perfect movies from the era that not only makes you feel good to be alive (if only so you can see it) but makes you realise how fragile life can be, and how the integrity of one's own feelings and behaviour really do matter.
In the end, I think this is a finer achievement than the far better known Philadelphia Story. It isn't as funny (it has no Roland Young as Uncle Willie in it) but it's less brazen, and in TPS its only Oscar winner James Stewart could be said to overact at times, and it's more stagy too, however great a film it admittedly is.
In this one, everything comes together, like a clockwork toy that gives pleasure every time you play with it. And Lew Ayres, as the sad brother never without a drink in his hand, is a revelation.

Holiday is a gem of a film - and dig those backflips!
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