Today, I'm reviewing the romantic comedy, Holiday (1938), starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.
This article is part of The Cary Grant Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies.
Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made four memorable movies together, but the 1938 romantic comedy Holiday is unique among their combined filmography. The movie came at a pivotal time in both actors' careers and, in several important ways, it set both of them on the path to becoming old Hollywood legends.
Holiday tells the story of Johnny Case (Grant), a young New York City stockbroker who meets and quickly becomes engaged to the beautiful Julia Seton (Doris Nolan) while on a skiing vacation. What Johnny doesn't know is that Julia is from one of Manhattan's richest families, which includes her stern father (Henry Kolker), alcoholic brother (Lew Ayres), and free-spirited sister, Linda (Hepburn).
Holiday, which is based on Philip Barry's Broadway play, had already been adapted by RKO Pictures for a 1930 movie starring Robert Ames and Ann Harding (incidentally, Edward Everett Horton played Johnny's professor friend in both movies). In 1938, RKO sold the script to Columbia Pictures, who wanted to capitalize on the runaway success of The Awful Truth (1937) by re-teaming Grant and Irene Dunne for a lavish remake.
However, Columbia chief Harry Cohn didn't bargain on the force of nature that was Hepburn. The actress had recently bought out her contract at RKO after they offered her a terrible part in a B movie called Mother Carey's Chickens, and she desperately wanted to play the part of the independent and quirky Linda. In fact, Holiday was quite close to Hepburn's heart. She had been an understudy for the Broadway play, and her original screen test for RKO was a scene from Holiday.
Viewed today, Holiday is a sensitive and nuanced film about the love between two wounded people. The supporting cast is exceptional, especially Nolan, who does spoiled and rich well, and Ayres, as a lovable lush who drowns his daddy issues in a river of highballs. Hepburn gives what is probably her best dramatic performance of the late 1930s in a beautifully understated performance that critic Pauline Kael said "made ordinary heroines seem mushy."
|Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant practice a stunt in Holiday (1938).|
Holiday is available on DVD and video on demand.