When The Old Hollywood Garden was a baby, I posted something about Holiday (1938) and I compared it to an underrated bassist from a four-piece band (Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), Bringing up Baby (1938) and The Philadelphia Story (1940)). Those four Grant-Hepburn movies all occupy a different place in movie history: Sylvia Scarlett is just not that good, there’s no way around that. Bringing up Baby is pretty much the most hysterical movie ever, and The Philadelphia Story is a romantic comedy masterpiece. And then there’s Holiday, which is quite possibly one of the most delightful and sweet movies ever, but it has kind of slipped under the radar a bit. Obsessed Kate and Cary fans *raises hand* love it to pieces, however, and we can’t talk about it enough.
Johnny Case (Cary Grant) is a happy-go-lucky young man who’s in love with Julia Seton (Doris Nolan), the daughter of a millionaire businessman (Henry Kolker). He wants to marry her but her father wants him to settle down in the family businesses, much to Johnny’s dismay, who’d rather be as carefree as he’s always been. Linda (Katharine Hepburn) and Ned (Lew Ayres), Julia’s siblings, are the only ones who understand him. So, when the New Year’s Eve party arrives and they prepare to announce the engagement, the three of them, along with Johnny’s friends Susan (Jean Dixon) and Nick (Edward Everett Horton), spend the evening in the playroom upstairs, away from everybody else. I mean, who hasn’t felt like that at some point? The scenes in the playroom are simply heart-warming because of how safe the playroom feels. You want to be there with them and just play games and laugh and enjoy their company. What a wonderful afternoon that would be!
Simply put, Holiday is just lovely. And, like with every George Cukor film, it’s the performances that stand out. There’s a reason why Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made four films together, they are just perfect as a duo and they bring out the best in each other every time, without really doing a whole lot. It’s just natural for them. And I have to mention Lew Ayres’ performance as Ned, which I just love. It could have easily become a cliché – the long-suffering brother who’s always drunk – but it isn’t. It’s sweet and you know that there’s a broken soul in there somewhere and you want to protect him. Which is why the relationship between Linda and Ned is so special. They’re always there for each other.
There is so much to love about Holiday. So if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a huge favor and watch it. You’ll get lovely feels all over, just in time for the holiday season.