March 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Holiday

Criterion, 95 min., not rated, DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Writing in VL-1/07, reviewer Ed Hulse said, “based on a successful Broadway play by Philip Barry, this stylish and delightful 1938 comedy reunites Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, teamed so felicitously in Bringing Up Baby (and appearing later in The Philadelphia Story, another Barry adaptation). Grant plays a cheerful but impecunious nonconformist who becomes engaged to the snobby daughter (Doris Nolan) of a millionaire banker (Henry Kolker). In getting acquainted with the family, however, he finds himself drawn to his fiancée’s unconventional sister (Hepburn), a rebellious young spitfire. Also along for the ride are Lew Ayres, as Hepburn’s cynical, disillusioned, perpetually drunk brother, and Edward Everett Horton, playing Grant’s fun-loving but henpecked friend. As one might suspect from a story originating on the stage, Holiday unfolds largely indoors on lavishly appointed sets peopled with glamorously-gowned women and dinner-jacketed men. But the dialogue (much of it retained from Barry’s original by screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart) is sharp, and George Cukor’s customarily precise direction elicits letter-perfect line readings from the excellent cast. Holiday‘s principal theme—that life’s riches can’t be counted in dollars and cents—might seem a little shopworn to today’s viewers (the movie doesn’t seem as daring or provocative as it was in the Depression era), but it still holds up as grand entertainment, with Grant and Hepburn really lighting up the screen in their scenes together.” Making its debut as part of the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray, Holiday features extras including a 1930 adaptation directed by Edward H. Griffith, a new conversation between filmmaker Michael Schlesinger and film critic Michael Sragow, archival audio excerpts of director Cukor, a costume gallery, and a booklet with an essay by critic Dana Stevens. Recommended. (R. Pitman)