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.
Comedy / Romance
Comedy / Romance
A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.
February 1, 2020