Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Holiday

(This post originally appeared on August 29, 2009.)

HOLIDAY has a lot in common with the better known THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, which was released two years later in 1940. Both films star Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, are based on plays by Philip Barry, and poke droll fun at the foibles of society’s upper crust. In HOLIDAY, Grant plays an up-and-coming young stockbroker who meets and falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy industrialist while they’re both on vacation in Lake Placid. They return to New York planning to get married, but first they have to introduce Grant to the family and get the approval of the girl’s father.

In a nice twist, Hepburn doesn’t play Grant’s fiancée but rather her sister. Grant’s character has some charming eccentricities, such as turning back flips when he’s happy, and it doesn’t take long for him and Hepburn’s character to realize that they’re kindred spirits. Meanwhile, another of Grant’s “oddities”, at least to his fiancée’s father, is that he wants to make enough money while he’s young so that he can retire and just enjoy life. When he says that he doesn’t want to make “too much money”, the industrialist just looks at him with a blank stare indicating that he can’t even grasp the concept of “too much money”.

The romantic triangle is kept pretty low-key for most of the movie, and while the script is more amusing than it is actually funny, there are a few laugh-out-loud moments. There are also some surprisingly dark moments for a romantic comedy, most of them provided by Lew Ayres as the industrialist’s alcoholic son who wants to escape from his father’s oppressive influence but can’t find the courage to do so. The rest of the supporting cast is very good, including the great Edward Everett Horton. (Probably very few members of my generation can hear Edward Everett Horton’s voice without thinking of “Fractured Fairy Tales” on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.)

HOLIDAY isn’t as good as THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, or for that matter, BRINGING UP BABY, the classic Grant/Hepburn screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks. However, it is a solidly entertaining film and well worth watching if you haven’t seen it before.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, it does fall behind the other two. But what movies don't. Anything with this pair has to be worth watching.

Daniel Stumpf said...

I actually prefer this to PHILADELPHIA STORY, thanks mainly to Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

There were two film adaptations, the first in 1930. Edward Everett Horton played the same role in both. The second was better. Also, Hepburn was the understudy in the original Broadway production in 1928.

We saw this on Broadway some 40 (!) years ago, with John Glover in the Grant role and David Dukes in the Horton role. Charlotte Moore (who?) played the Hepburn role.

In 1980 we saw THE PHILADELPHIA STORY was Blythe Danner and Edward Herrmann and Frank Converse.

Jeff M.

Yvette said...

I actually hadn't seen this until, I think, last year. I know, where have I been? I loved THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and BRINGING UP BABY, but I don't love HOLIDAY. Of the three BRINGING UP BABY is my favorite. The thing is, I expected to love HOLIDAY - because of Edward Everett Horton whom I adore.

But the character Cary Grant plays in HOLIDAY doesn't seem quite normal to me. He seems a big mad, and not in a good way. Not 'mad' as Hepburn was in BRINGING UP BABY - know what I mean? His ideas about life make little sense. He's a little TOO energized.

P.S. However, Lew Ayres is wonderful as the doomed brother.